The other day I had a sweet reminder of how good it is to have a friend like Jesus. The reminder came from three humming birds and a woodpecker.
I was sipping on my morning coffee, watching humming birds buzz around the backyard. They would dart in close for a sip of juice from the jar hanging upside down by the fence and then zip over—faster than my eye could follow—to the flowerbed, bouncing back and forth between the red, yellow and purple zinnias. The drone-sounding hum of their wings was interrupted by a metrical tapping sound from overhead.
Tap, Tap, Tap, pause . . .
Tap, Tap, pause . . .
Tap, Tap, Tap, pause . . .
Tap, Tap . . .
I began to reflect on the disparity between the privilege of the hummingbird and the fate of the woodpecker. If I had to live as one or the other I would definitely choose the life of the humming bird—floating through life, sucking sugar out of flowers is far better than banging your face against a tree and eating bugs. Who wouldn’t choose the life of a hummingbird over the life of a woodpecker?
The truth is, my life has been a mixture of the two. On some days everything goes right; with little effort I find myself flourishing in friendships, working side-by-side with my family and friends, using our gifts and talents to accomplish goals and add flavor to life. But on other days, nothing seems to go right. The harder I work, the further I get behind. On days like that bitterness can work its way into my imagination, robbing me of the joy I had when I set out to meet the day.
Stringing one “woodpecker day” after another—banging your face against the wall and getting nothing but bugs for your effort—will eventually lead to fatigue and possibly burnout. If life has been an uphill battle for a while and you find yourself tired and weary this might be a good day to stop and hear the invitation your friend Jesus is speaking over you:
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.
Jesus knows life can be tough. He knows what you are going through today. Here are four things you can do to respond to his invitation.
First: Take a moment and name the fatigue. What is it that is wearing you out?
Second: Take the burden to Jesus in prayer. Remember, Jesus promised to be with you always, to never leave you or forsake you. Jesus is present with you in the chaos of life.
Third: Make an exchange. Jesus is inviting you to give him your burden and to receive his yoke in its place. When you are yoked with Jesus he will help you carry the load. It will be a great exchange because, his yoke is easy and his burden is light.
Fourth: Ask Jesus to help you hum a little today. Humming your way through the madness will help you taste and see the sweet parts of life in spite of the bug filled, rotten tree standing in front of you.
Larry Stoess is an author, public speaker, and urban church planter. He loves telling stories about how dreaming with God will empower people to make old and broken things new again. Larry and a band of friends founded the Church of the Promise in Louisville's Portland neighborhood; The Table, a pay-what-you-can community café; and Promise Housing Plus, a non-profit construction company. He has written about their experience of dreaming with God in his new book: Think Red.