The prophet Jeremiah writes these words of the Lord. ”I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25. God's people of Judah have been taken into exile in Babylon. They have been told to make themselves comfortable because the time of their exile will be 70 years. In Jeremiah chapter 29 we read the familiar words, ”For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” These words came to the exiles in a letter. Following this came God’s promise of the restoration of Israel to her former glory. And then the words quoted above. The journey back to Judah was long and arduous. They had been away for 70 years. And Jerusalem was a destroyed mess when they arrived. God promised to refresh His people after their journey and their exile away from Him.
Jeremiah's words are similar to Isaiah 40:31, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Throughout scripture we see pictures of God refreshing His people. God, the Good Shepherd, leads His people by still waters and on to green pastures. And, He restores our souls. Not only did Jesus draw away by Himself to spend time recharging, but He also took the disciples with Him on occasion. Every one of us needs times away to recharge, refresh and renew. And if Jesus, the second person of the trinity needed to spend time away, how much more do we need to do the same?
All of us recharge differently. Some of us travel...looking for adventure. Some of us recharge with family gatherings. Still others go on retreat. And some simply take time off. But all of us need time to recharge, refresh and relax. This has been a challenging year...and it is not over. Perhaps some of our biggest challenges lay ahead of us still. Many of us have had the opportunity to work from home. We have had time to clean closets and sort through the things of our lives. We have even had time to reconnect with family. But that is not necessarily time to recharge.
This has been the week for Barb and I to recharge, refresh and relax. We have turned off our electronics, something I rarely do. We have read, slept in and spent precious time together, just the two of us. I have spent time reading scripture. It refreshes my mind and soul. There has been uninterrupted prayer time. That too is a precious commodity. Acts 3:19 tells us times of refreshing come from the Lord. We can receive refreshing every day. Scripture tells us God’s mercies are new every morning. Every day is a chance to start over, to renew relationships, to draw closer to the Lord. An extended period of refreshment not only draws us closer to the Lord, it also allows us to rid ourselves of the stresses and weight of the world. Days of refreshment allow us to store up strength for the days ahead.
Jesus speaks these words to us, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. Regardless of how we relax and refresh, our greatest refreshment comes from Jesus Christ. It is in Him and His Word that we find peace. It is in Jesus we receive grace. He gives us courage when we do not know where else to turn. Jesus has shown us what mercy looks like so we might show mercy to others. When we feel weighed down, He will carry the load. He has lavished His love on us...not so we can hoard it for ourselves but so that we might share it with others. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to out path.
We turn to Him when the world closes in. We turn to Him when we don't know where else to turn. And He is always waiting for us. He offers the refreshment we need, the relaxation we crave and the rest that seems to escape us. He is all we need.
As you think about your life, what do you do to rest, relax and refresh? Where do you go to spend time to refresh? And when was the last time you took time to do that?
In His grip
Pastor Matt W