Come to me is a common invite, honestly. But one must consider a couple things—first what is being offered? Is it worth the effort to come, to join, to vote, to believe? So who am I and what do I long for? And then, just as vital, who are they and can they appease this longing? Enter Jesus. “Come to me,” he says, “and I will give you rest.”
Rest. In the past few weeks we’ve been looking at it, juxtaposed against the shattering schedules and the broke-back weariness of life. When Jesus offers rest, it is bound up in all sorts of things. But is his offer true? Check out the video and essay below to hear more. You can find the whole series here.
There was once a bachelor whose house was too quiet. So he went to the pet store in search of a singing parakeet. The store owner had just the bird for him, so the man bought it. The next day, the man came home from work to a house full of music. Sweet chirping filled the air with joy and cheer. The man could not be more pleased with his musical companion. However, he went to the cage to feed the bird and noticed for the first time that the parakeet had only one leg. Feeling cheated that he’d been sold a one-legged bird, he called the pet store and complained.
“What do you want,” the store owner responded, “A bird who can sing or a bird who can dance?”
The bachelor had an expectation that his bird would not only be able to sing, but have with two legs. Seems a reasonable enough expectation.
We have a natural tendency to pin our hopes for happiness on our expectations for what we believe will happen.
A trip away will be just what I need.
A quiet weekend will be so nice.
That meal is going to be delicious.
It should be a good game.
I’ll be able to check off everything on my to-do list.
Take a moment right now for reflection—what are you waiting or hoping for that will lead to your happiness?
Expectations are when we believe we must have something to be happy and fulfilled. Expectations can be about our personal identities, about other people, or about our life circumstances. Here are some examples, “If I do this, I will be happy.” “If I am this, I will be more content.” “If he, she or they changes this, everything will be better.” “If this happens, I’ll be happy.”
There is nothing wrong with expectations by themselves. However, we need to have good reasons to believe that fulfilling an expectation will make us happy. Moreover, we need to be willing to take the necessary steps toward fulfilling those expectations. Good reason expectations are based on past experiences when certain things have made us happy.
For example, many of us have a good reason expectation that our morning cup of coffee will almost inevitably give us a little bit of happiness. We take the necessary steps to fulfill our expectation for that delicious start to the morning and of course, the coffee does its part in being all warm and tasty. Good reason expectation.
The problem with expectations occurs when we expect something to happen without good reasons for that expectation. We could call these negative expectations or no good reason expectations. If I believe that my expectations alone will bring me what I want, I am using magical thinking and setting myself up for unfulfilled expectations. This is really obvious when we are talking about coffee. I can’t make a cup of coffee just by thinking it into existence; I have to take the necessary steps to make it happen. I have to grind the beans, put the coffee and water in my coffee maker, and push the button. Just expecting my cup of coffee to appear is delusional.
This reality is less obvious when our expectations involve other people. Most of us realize that expecting a cup of coffee to materialize from our thoughts is unrealistic. But how often do we believe that expecting other people to behave the way we want them to will actually make them behave that way? We set expectations for how our interactions will go throughout the day with our family, coworkers and friends, but often, these expectations do not match reality. And when our expectations aren’t met, we feel disappointed.
The bachelor expected his bird to be able to sing and have two legs. He wanted more and was disappointed.
Our human condition usually expects more of self, others, and situations. We end up disappointed, and after disappointment after disappointment, we get weary.
But this is where Jesus meets us. In our weariness and disappointment, Jesus shows us that our expectations of Him are always too small.
We see this beautifully displayed throughout the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. Jesus meeting people in the midst of their pain, showing them more than what they had hoped for, and giving joy in the midst of sorrow.
One such account occurred on the Sunday after Jesus was crucified. Mary Magdalene and two other women walked to his tomb. Mary was very close with Jesus and was carrying a heavy load of grief, discouragement and heartache.
Things had not turned out at all like she had expected.
Mary was a Jewish woman from the fishing town, Magdala, and Luke tells us that Jesus had cured her of demon possession.
Before Jesus cast out the seven demons, she was battered and in agony from the suffering that came with demon possession. Someone possessed by a demon lost all control and dignity. Mary had no life outside of pain and suffering. But all that changed when Jesus saw her and healed her.
After her healing, Mary became one of Jesus’ faithful followers. She followed him all the way to the cross, standing close by until Jesus breathed his last breath.
Jesus died on Friday and the women got up early Sunday morning to take spices to anoint the body of Jesus.
Was their walk to the tomb quiet and somber? Did these women cry aloud? Or were they extremely quiet as to avoid the attention of soldiers watching over the tomb?
I can only imagine their heartbreak as they knew this would be the final time they would see the body of their Lord and Savior. How they must have felt – the lowest of lows, devastated, defeated, discouraged. In this time period, women were seen and treated as nobodies, but to Jesus, they were His followers and a part of His ministry. Jesus honored them by healing and including them. But that appeared to be over now.
For these women, the path to the tomb was filled with heartache and pain – a heavy weight of sorrow and grief.
Today we are carrying the weight of our lows, our concerns and struggles. Expectations have been crushed in big ways and small ways. Disappointments weigh us down and we feel an emotional heaviness just like the women on the path to the tomb.
You are so burdened by the weight you are carrying that even considering the invitation to come to Jesus seems too much. But the invitation Jesus extends never requires us to do anything other than come to Him. His invitation comes without any expectations. Jesus does not expect anything of us, and he even invites us to bring our unfulfilled expectations to Him.
Maybe, like Mary, things haven’t turned out like you’ve planned and you face the future with weariness.
But remember, this is where Jesus meets us. This is where He met Mary. In her weariness and disappointment, Jesus showed her that her expectations of Him were too small.
In the garden outside the tomb, Mary mourned the loss of Jesus. As she cried, something unexpected happened. A man, she believed to be the gardener, approached her. Mary asked if he had any knowledge of where Jesus’ body was. Then to her surprise, the man called her by name and she knew it was Jesus.
This encounter with her resurrected Savior was completely unexpected. In her grief and hopelessness, Jesus met her. He exchanged her dashed expectations with joy in the unbelievable.
And Jesus wants to meet us in our own places of weariness as well. Coming to Jesus with your weariness is an invitation to name the reality of unmet expectations and disappointments.
Perhaps, today’s invitation is to honestly assess the root of your weariness. Consider these questions as a starting point:
Would you be willing to be honest with yourself and face the reality of the weariness you are carrying?
Is your weariness is rooted in fear?
Is your weariness is rooted in doubt?
Is your weariness is rooted in the past?
Are your expectations of what Jesus can do in your life too small? Are you seeing a gardener instead of the Risen Savior?
Mary’s journey to the tomb was filled with heartache and grief. But her journey from the tomb was filled with joy and excitement as she proclaimed, “I have seen the Lord.”
Come to Jesus with your heartache and pain and He will meet you there.