According to tradition, when the Apostle John was leading the Church in Ephesus his hobby was raising pigeons. It is said that on one occasion a man passed John's house as he returned from hunting. When he saw John playing with one of his birds, he gently chided him for spending his time so frivolously. John looked at the man's bow and remarked that the string was loose.
"Yes," said the man, "I always loosen the string of my bow when it's not in use. If it stayed tight, it would lose its rebounding quality and fail me in the hunt."
"And I," said John, "am now relaxing the bow of my mind so that I may be better able to shoot the arrows of divine truth."
Whether this story has any grounding in history or not, it reveals an important spiritual principle: we all need to keep our bow-strings loose from time to time.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus speaks of a very important kind of relaxation: rest for the soul....
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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.The first thing we see in this passage is that Jesus invites the exhausted to come to him.
From time to time our souls get exhausted. "What is soul exhaustion?" you may ask.
It is the weariness that comes from running away. Until we run to Christ we are running away from so many things. We run away from deep relationships because we are afraid of being hurt. We run from problems. We run from quietness and solitude into busyness because we are afraid that if we pause for a moment we may be reminded of how empty our lives really are. We run because we think it is we who sustain our own lives and not God.
Columnist Herb Caen one wrote in The San Francisco Chronicle, "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you'd better be running."
I wonder: what are we running from today? Jesus invites the exhausted to turn to him and find rest.
Jesus invites those who are exhausted in their search for truth to come to him. The Greeks said, "It is very difficult to find God, and when you have found Him, it is impossible to tell others about Him."
Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Jesus claims that the long and lonely search for God, for soul-contentment, ends in himself.
Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee."
Why not take some time to rest in Jesus today: through prayer, through quiet, through taking some time to lay down on the grass somewhere and look up at the passing clouds?