(This post first appeared on May 5, 2009)
Sometimes you just have to stop.
Sometimes you have to stop and listen and ask and listen.
Sometimes you need questions. Simple questions. Questions of few syllables and deep thought.
When was the last time you stopped?
That’s an easy question to ask. That’s a very difficult question to be asked. Which is why I am asking us.
After denouncing the cities who ignored what he did, Jesus invites people to come and rest. After pointing out that they had seen miracles and hadn’t repented, Jesus calls out to weary people.
It is, apparently, not life-transforming to watch miracles. When we ask for them, we ought to remember that I suppose. We think that miracles will so amaze that everyone will be compelled to believe.
But it isn’t so.
A miracle watched happens outside us. Repentance happens inside us. With an about face, we find our lives changed, a turning from the way we were going.
We make much, however of the turning, of the repenting. But Jesus isn’t making much of the turn itself, of the moment of turning. Instead, after the condemnation, he speaks of rest, of humility, of burdens being lifted, of gentleness. More than lamenting the lack of repenting, he is encouraging the coming.
Late at night, when being driven by the list, rest seems desirable, but out of reach. In the morning, when being driven by the list, rest seems long gone. In the middle of the day, between the calls and the visits and the ambiguity and the precisely-phrased demands, rest seems impossible.
Which is, of course, why it is being offered by one with tremendous power and authority. How else could it happen? How else could we find it?
So then, you and I, a question: When was the last time you stopped?