My only thought, after 59 minutes and 50 seconds of trying to escape this Star Wars themed room, was “I hope this 12 year old knows how to unlock an actual doorknob!” I took my sixth grader group this week, and we escaped with only 5 seconds left! It was thrilling!
As I was reading my Bible today I was reflecting on how youth ministry is a lot like an escape room. Every week feels like a mad dash to one issue, one task, one problem after another. Always trying to unlock people’s potential, solve problems, and figure out “just the right” fill in the blank. And then hopefully, you escape occasionally and get a chance to breathe.
Feeling overwhelmed seems to be an epidemic in modern culture. Would you agree? Have you felt it today? This week? Have you felt that sense of “I’ll never get this all done?” Or felt that tension in your chest as you try to be the best pastor you can, and worry about how it impacts being the best spouse, or parent, or friend?
I want to encourage you today with the words of Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30 reads:
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT)
I see four promises for you and I today in these verses:
The Promise of Jesus
Right off the bat, Jesus promises that in our moments of frustration when we are overwhelmed, that he is available to us. He is here. Often with my kids I have found that there are times when they just need to “come to me.” They need me to be there, be present, listen, encourage, and hug. I don’t change their situation, but I change them in the situation. And this is what Jesus offers us. “Come to me, and I’ll give you everything you need.” (Also think – Ephesians 3 – “every spiritual blessing”).
The Promise of Rest
Sounds good right? I can almost guarantee that if you are in youth ministry you aren’t sleeping enough! Am I right? But this rest is beyond sleep obviously – it is rest that comes from connecting with the sacred and the eternal. It is the rest that comes from getting our eyes off of all the swirling immediate needs around us, and seeing the divine perspective of Jesus in it all.
The Promise of Teaching
He promises to teach us. Did you catch that? “Let me teach you.” Not scold you. Or put demands on you. Teach you. What does that remind you of? “Be my disciple?” Doesn’t being a disciple mean being one who is taught? I don’t know about you, but I don’t know everything. The further along I get, the more I realize how much I need the wisdom and revelation of Jesus. I want to create space in my life to connect with him (Come to me!) and let him show me what it is I need to be learning.
The Promise of Guidance
This yoke thing – have you ever thought about that? How can putting a yoke on be easy to bear? Especially the yoke of Jesus? Seems like his yoke would be pretty intense. Well, being a good bible preacher, I looked it up 🙂 In that culture, when a new or young ox was bought, he would be yoked together with a stronger, wiser veteran ox. That older ox would carry the brunt of the weight and would lead the younger one so he could learn the ropes. That’s why Jesus says his yoke will be easy to bear! He will do the brunt of the heavy lifting and we’ll be more closely connected to him so we’ll know where to go, what to say “no” to, what to say “yes” to, and so on.
I hope today you can pause and reflect on these great promises from Jesus. I hope and pray that Jesus can enter into your “overwhelmed-ness” and meet you in a powerful way. Ministry is hard. Balancing life is challenging. But you are not alone. Go to Him today. He’s waiting.