Two weeks ago, the landscape at Fairwood suffered a significant change. One of the largest limbs on the big maple tree by the entrance finally succumbed to the forces of wind and gravity, and came crashing to the ground. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but it was a sober reminder of how untreated issues can become larger and larger over time. This huge limb had suffered a relatively small crack several years ago, perhaps in the ice storm of 2008. In the intervening years, winter ice and summer wind began to take a toll. Gradually the crack grew larger and larger, and rot began to set in. Each year the damage grew, most of it unseen, and finally the crash came.
I had thought many times of trying to repair the crack when it was small, or have the tree bolted together when the crack grew larger, but somehow it never happened. In the same way, many people in our fast-paced culture often think they should take a day of rest when the demands of life become overwhelming, but it often fails to translate into action. Instead we race ahead at full speed, not stopping to assess the damage to our souls incurred by such a frenetic pace. We race, and race, and race, and then we crash.
Fortunately, we have an off-ramp from the highway of craziness. It’s called the Sabbath.
This day is a wonderful way to rest in the presence of God, and allow the “cracks” that life inflicts to be healed. When we’ve had a hard week of work, when the burdens of family and society become overwhelming, we can choose to lay them down at the feet of Jesus, and rest in His love and presence. That refusal to keep roaring ahead brings peace to our spirits, and heals the cracked and broken places of our lives.
When He was on earth, Jesus often healed people’s physical needs on the day of rest. In one case, there was a man with a withered hand in the synagogue. Jesus asked him to stretch it out. It was an act of faith to bring to the light a part of him that he had no doubt tried to hide from prying eyes. Jesus asked him to hold it up, and as the man obeyed, his hand was made whole.
In our day, He still invites us to stretch out the cracked and withered parts of our hearts. We hold them up to him, and trust in His healing presence to bring life and wholeness.
Not only is the Sabbath a day of healing, but it is also a day of grace. If we’ve had a great week of work and accomplished a lot, the Sabbath comes and heals. If we’ve had a horrible week of work, made a wreck out of everything, and made a ton of bad choices, the Sabbath still comes and heals. It is a free gift, entirely unrelated to our accomplishments. And nothing can stop its arrival, just as nothing can stop the reach of the tender hand of Jesus.
My encouragement to you is to bring every cracked and withered place to Him tonight. Enjoy the Holy Day that He has made for us. And most of all, rest in His unstoppable grace and love.