“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
My heart sighs at Jesus’ words, so great is the relief they promise. I can almost sense Jesus taking my face in His hands and saying, “Stop looking to the rules for your worth. Stop trying to measure yourself against the law. It’s all too heavy to bear. You’ll never be good enough that way. Look at Me. Learn from Me.”
For some reason, when I read this mental picture of Jesus holding my face in His hands, tears swelled up in my eyes.
I can remember so many times I have found myself feeling so broken, so distraught over a situation, or so stressed about the chaos of my life, that I would have given anything in the world to have someone gently cup my face in their hands, look into my eyes, and tell me that everything was going to be okay. To have someone shower me with acceptance and approval, and wash away all the insecurities and fears that my heart was ravaged with.
Especially if that someone were Jesus.
Yet all too often, we feel that no one can wash away our hurts, and that nothing can minimize our stress. Including Jesus.
We fail to remember the promise of relief He offers, because we are too preoccupied remembering all the reasons we’re stressed or anxious. And at times, as Glynnis’s devotion mentions, we get so caught up in trying to be perfect and accomplish lots of things, that we begin to beat ourselves up emotionally, believing that we will never measure up.
I can vividly recall specific times in my life when I carried the weight of all those feelings. Trudging around my days with a huge rock of stress and pain on my shoulders, but too stubborn and self sufficient to lay it down.
But that not-so-pretty memory is exactly what empowers and motivates me to share my journey of stress-recovery with as many people as will listen. You see, when God finally opened my heart to embrace the peace that can be found in Him – even when my life was far from peaceful – I realized that I had power over my mind, and the memories that filled it.
Memories are tricky. Some memories give us courage, while others make us feel afraid. Some memories make us feel warm inside, while others feel like an arctic blast causing our hearts to shiver. Some memories bring back pleasant mental pictures, while others cause us to shut our eyes and try to forget.
But memories are what God can use to help us recognize His sovereignty – if we choose to focus on what He is capable of doing, and what He is doing, rather than what we think He is not doing on our behalf.
For example, when I think back about a difficult time in my life – I can either remember how hard it was and how I felt abandoned by God, or I can remember how God worked in that situation and praise Him for it. When I recall memories that bring a tear to my eye, I can either allow it to make me bitter, or I can remember how God made me stronger as a result.
When I remember times that I felt alone or confused, I can focus on whose fault it was that I felt that way, or I can envision Jesus cupping my face in His holy hands, reminding me that I was loved, and that He would never leave me.
When I remember times of joy and blessing, it motivates to praise God from whom all blessings flow.
As I think about the mental picture that Glynnis painted today in her devotion, it invokes many memories of times when I so needed Jesus by my side – but it invokes a sweet smile when I remember that He was there when all those memories were being made. And that is the memory I choose to focus on.
Jesus calls us to lay our burdens at His feet and surrender the situations that are stressing us out, so that He can help us find rest for our souls. When we make a choice to slow down the pace of life, trust that He is in control, embrace His love for us, and learn to soak in the peace that He offers when life is stressful – then sweet memories can begin to replace the ones that are stealing our joy.
Are you ready to start choosing sweet memories today?
Psalm 77:11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
** For more encouragement on managing stress, memories and emotions through the strength of Christ, mark your calendar for the release of my new book, Stressed-Less Living next week, and make sure you know how to get your 7 free gifts with purchase by visiting the Stressed-Less Living website for details **
And visit Glynnis’s blog today to enter to win a free copy of Stressed-Less Living!