When the stay-at-home order was first issued, I was content. An introvert who likes home and loves to garden, I thought having extra days outside sounded pretty good. But God has been teaching me a deeper contentment.
Initially, I was drawn to Matthew 11:28, which says, “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.”
I think contentment involves purpose. Humans need purpose to thrive and, with stay-at-home, it has been an issue for some with schedules in upheaval to figure out how to spend their time. Even in “normal” times, most Christians I know sit before the Lord with the questions: “What should I be doing; where should I serve; what should my commitments be?” I approached stay-at-home with those questions. How can I take the right precautions and still be of use? I am healthy but in contact with several who are vulnerable. Like many not on the front lines, I have found the ways an average person can help—shop for an immune-suppressed neighbor, encourage and support several who have been furloughed, support local establishments and those in need. I thought I was putting on the yoke God was fitting to me.
But I did notice anxieties in myself and others. In this surreal time, we are an anxious world, a “weary and burdened” one. And I re-read the verse. Rest comes first. Rest in Christ. Rest in Him, yoke well, rest well. I’ve noticed His blessings even during a stay-at-home order: no alarm clock set (unless we want to hit senior hours at the grocery!), long quiet times, home projects getting done, God’s provision for a beautiful spring while we seek relief outside, extra hours in the garden, watching whole families walk together, meeting neighbors I didn’t know and getting to know others better (from a distance of course), intentional conversations with friends and family. Limiting outings gave extra time, limiting purchases simplified life, limiting news consumption guarded perspective. The worship songs from Sunday worship stayed in my head throughout the week. I sought God in wonderful times with Him in the morning, did what He called me to do during the day, and at night rested in His sovereignty and faithfulness.
He was teaching me contentment was not what I did with my hands and feet, but what I did with my heart, mind, and soul.
During this season I am so thankful for our church. Brian’s sermons on finding peace during anxiety and chaos are exactly what I and a burdened world need, directing us clearly to the Lord. Maintaining fellowship and prayer support with other believers provides energy to persevere. Even apart, even on Zoom, I feel yoked together with you, receiving and giving encouragement. We are sharpening each other to do well what God calls us to do—rest in Him, His sovereignty, His provision, His blessings.
At one time in my life I was trying to memorize Psalm 91:1: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty” (NASB). My mind got muddled around the words and I’d find myself thinking, “Is it dwell then abide, or abide and then dwell? Is it shelter then shadow or shadow and then shelter?” I’ve since read the New International Version of this verse: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” There’s that rest again. But whatever the version, I love that Psalm 91:1 uses the word shelter, and I don’t think I’ll ever again mix up the sequence. I am currently obeying orders to dwell mostly at home, in my shelter. But my shelter-in-place order is first and foremost to the Lord God. No matter my physical surroundings, if I dwell in Him, He provides rest for my soul. Contentment.