By Deaconess Heidi Goehmann, MSW, LISW
LCMS Worker Wellness Advocate
I have a little secret. I love winter. While people all around me are grumbling about the cold and the snow and the winds, I smile and nod, but deep down I know the truth – what would life be like without winter?
I love to look out the window and watch the snow come down. I like to add an extra pair of socks and trudge around my yard on a pair of cross-country skis in the wee hours of the morning with my husband. I like to sit in my car while it defrosts all the snow and ice, because I’m from St. Louis and even after 13 years in Northern climates, I still don’t own a snow scraper. I like to wrap my hands around a warm mug.
But most of all what I love about winter
is the rest of it all.
I love excitement. I love to go and do, and I love to take life at breakneck speed. Ministry is even like this for me, and, honestly, I think ministry, by its nature, feels like this for most of us. Each of us just experienced the thrill of Advent and Christmas — the rushing, the gatherings, the pomp for Our Savior born long ago. What’s next? What’s the next plan, the next program, the next step? Ministry doesn’t really ever stop. There is always more to be done, more people to care for, more to plan and prepare, and always, always more people who need to know the truth of Jesus.
It’s important to recognize though, that every day can’t be Christmas, every day can’t be Easter. Every day can’t be new stuff and greater things to come. Every day can’t be VBS and summer camp and youth bonfires. We can’t maintain that. Jesus ministered for 33 years between Christmas and Easter. He healed the sick, loved the passerby, but He also turned away crowds for the opportunity to rest (Mark 6:31).
And so I believe God purposely gives us winter.
In Matthew 11:28-29, we hear the much loved passage, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” God in heaven, maker of the stars, knows I need rest for my soul … but do I know it? Do you know it? Does your family know it?
Certainly His cross gives us all the rest we need, but in these verses in Matthew, Jesus shows us that, like He always does, He offers us more. He offers us His cross and tangible physical rest for our day.
Note that Jesus invites us into rest,
but it is a learned process.
“Take my yoke … and learn from me.” Rest is a practice developed. Create rest times in your daily schedule. Create moments of rest in your home schedule. Make the meal table a place of rest and embrace date night as a welcome invitation to rest. Use the gift of winter this post-Christmas season and practice rest. When the snow comes down, refuse to shovel the driveway for two extra hours, to hold your mug of coffee in your hand and praise the Creator for His wonder instead.
What if the phone rings? What if life happens? I don’t know. But you will. As we stay active in the Word for our own learning, God whispers in our hearts with His Spirit. He will guide us when we need some rest. He offers us rest-oration in these moments, through His Word, and the opportunity to put it into practice.
I pray for you in this winter season, that you find His rest again ... and in it ministry restoration, family restoration, and Newness of Life for all the seasons to come.