So, I was thinking about labor and rest. Particularly as there is a personal situation/family crisis going on with my beloved 95 year old auntie Elizabeth and my two cousins (her children). I know many of you reading this have had to confront this type of situation yourselves: an independent elder who is starting to physically fail (her mind is great still, thanks be to God!)—and you must seek what options exist as how to care for her while working your own job, responsibilities for children and grands, taking care of your and her household responsibilities—a very long, exhausting, endless list of priorities that must be faced and confronted. And right now—in the middle of a global pandemic.
That is hard labor. A labor of love, mostly, but also very awkward, surely inconvenient, and definitely pressured labor in terms of all the other family priorities and issues. And sometimes the labor is even physically impossible for those not experienced for this type of elder care—especially if you are not equipped with what is needed to care for her in the way she should be cared as twilight approaches.
You are not a nurse or health care professional; and you all waited too long to plan and prepare for the inevitable change of life that happens for all of us toward our ends. I am always amazed when I hear an older person say something like, “I never thought I would be this bad/need this much help/suffer so.” Really? That seems counter-intuitive to the aging and decaying we all go through; no one gets out of here alive—although the very graced ones go easily… It is still, if you blessed, very difficult to face a diminution of any abilities, physical or otherwise. I hear many stories in the course of my music ministry—a big part of which is the inevitable funeral at ones’ end, and the trials leading up to it.
So in the meantime, we seek help for our parents/aunties/uncles/etc.: labor for the everyday stuff for his/her care, but it feels like there is no respite or rest in the meantime as you run around trying to solve all the myriad problems with your hair on fire… We Christians should know better—we know that our bodies are a temporary residence for our Spirits. We know we should live with our eyes toward our heavenly journey—and take care of business here, and prepare for our real futures after.
In trying to help out my cousins and my aunt, I see how this labor is too much for them; they are overwhelmed and rest is needed—it’s hard to make big decisions in the midst of a this dire change of life. I know many of you have found yourselves in similar circumstances; this is a part of the life we have here—we should plan ahead for disability and death—because “Change is inevitable. Stress is manageable. Misery is optional.” We should plan for our ultimate life in our everyday living here… but do we? Are we?
I know that ultimately rest will come—because after any of our life’s labor that is what happens—a light at the end, a letting go of the burdens, peace. Jesus tells us today: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Our work, though hard and demanding, is a blessing to those around us—and our reward is eternal and everlasting rest. My advice: labor now, today; labor well as best you can, labor in love. Eye on the prize, people!
Keep singing from your hearts!
Just a Note: This past Saturday we celebrated our Independence Day in the United States. The specific readings for this day, by design and in our Church’s wisdom, are about peace. Personally, on Independence Day, I always think of my Dad, a World War II veteran. As U.S. citizens celebrating Independence Day this weekend, we need to remember the cost that has been paid to purchase our freedom─and not just for a nation, but for all people!
For the Christian, Independence Day doesn't come just once a year. For those who follow Jesus, Independence Day comes every Sunday! On any Sunday we should remember the Lord's Passion and Death and anticipate His return because freedom from death had been won. Our true Independence Day is the day of the Empty Tomb! I am comforted knowing that my Dad, who ‘labored’ for independence, justice and peace, is now living true independence, justice and peace in the heavenly kingdom. May God bless America—and may we begin to live with each other in peace, justice, mercy and love.
I thought you might enjoy this piece of music about true freedom.
Jesus Culture - Freedom (feat. Kim Walker-Smith) (Official ...