By Nichole Deakins
“Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:29-30 (Message)
I was in charge of having something to say at a pastors’ wives gathering.
These women pour their lives into ministry and support their husbands in church leadership. Their roles are unique, and even after I found myself in their position, I still cannot explain the complex role a pastor’s wife lives out each day. But because I've been in their shoes, I now understand - with great empathy.
I wanted these women to know they were not alone. That they had a place to be themselves, a safe place to share, laugh, and have fun. My desire was for them to leave encouraged and inspired.
What could I say? I wrestled with ideas and words that just wouldn't be penned (pun intended). These women were giving up their Saturday to come; some were driving quite a distance. I felt the pressure. Then, in frustration, I dropped to my knees and pleaded to God using the only words I could form:
“I’ve got nothin’, God! You’re going to have to give me something.”
That was all I had to say, so I decided to wait in silence.
Not long after, I heard the door to my bedroom open and footsteps quietly walk across the room. I felt the presence of my youngest daughter kneel down beside me and gently place her arm around my shoulders. I waited for her to say something or ask what I was doing, but she didn't say a word, not one. She simply knelt beside me and loved me without words. That is when God spoke to me: “How about that analogy?”
I smiled and took in the moment of my eleven year old doing what came naturally to her.
"Unless you become like little children..." (Matthew 18:3)
Her actions spoke volumes to me. Her presence did more for my spirit than words ever could. I didn't need an eloquent speech or a creative activity to inspire this group of women. The gathering itself created the space to come alongside, be present, and put our arms around one another - the unforced rhythm of grace. No words necessary.
God doesn't lay "heavy" on us; we lay it on ourselves. He enters gently and naturally; we force things. Jesus simplifies the things of this world; we often complicate things in this life. .
How about that analogy? Is there someone in your life who simply needs a friend's presence today? No need to perform or feel unqualified. No pressure to say the right words, just live freely by keeping them company as Jesus does for us in our times of need.
Jesus says, "Watch how I do it. Keep company with me."
And sometimes his modeling is displayed through our very own children.