Gracious God, our Heavenly Father, Your mercy attends us all our days. Be our strength and support amid the wearisome changes of this world, and at life’s end grant us Your promised rest and full joys of Your salvation; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
He had been a strapping fellow in his youth, now still hale but somewhat diminished by age. He was showing the new pastor around the house that he and his wife had built for their retirement. It was a lovely home with a beautiful view. They had done well. He credited his wife with most of the design and features of the house. But there had been one thing he had insisted on in this house. Just off the kitchen he opened a door to a very large pantry, its shelves filled with food. “You see, Pastor, during WWII my bomber ‘failed to remain airborne.’ I spent years in a POW camp in Germany and I vowed that I would never be hungry again.”
I can only imagine what an active young man felt like confined to a POW camp without enough to eat. It defined the rest of his life in a way and it defined what he meant by “rest and full joy.” For him rest and joy was sleeping in a house that had a large and fully stocked pantry. He had vanquished that gnawing hunger which had defined his youth. As you pray this prayer and meditate upon it, consider what rest and full joy looks like to you. We have had our fair share of “wearisome changes” in these past years. Does rest look like a COVID-free life?
My parishioner got to see something of his idea of rest and joy. But it was not long and soon health began to fail and life came to an end. But then he got to see what Jesus had in mind as He granted him His promised rest and full joy in His salvation. I think Jesus’ promise made a large pantry look small. I am tired of lockdowns and social distancing. I am weary of the distortions which this virus has brought to my life and world. But Jesus has in mind a rest and joy which transcend my and your expectations.