My two-year old granddaughter was settling into her crib for a midday nap. Hop, the bunny, was in her arms and she was wrapped into her zippy sleep sack. Her mom had just finished reading Winnie the Pooh’s Honey Trouble and we were tiptoeing out of the room, when her sleepy voice proclaimed, “Too much…” We had to smile. Such a grown-up phrase! Too much what??
Maybe she was commiserating with Pooh Bear’s empty honey pot. But I like to think she was processing the activities of the morning – packing a bag and going to visit Momo at the beach (i.e. a corner of the basement), singing along with Mimi’s off tune ukulele, reading books to Hop, painting (with water), cooking delicacies in her kitchen, marching, bouncing, tunneling, practicing ABCs, giving running hugs, playing hide and seek with her sister, whacking Mimi on the head during duck duck goose, counting stairs, feeding pretend babies. snacks, lunch, clean-up. Too much fun. Too much cuteness. Too much love. Too much of life at its very best. Time for a reflective nap, for sure!
For those of us who don’t happen to be toddlers, life often becomes too much. We attend wakes where there are no words to say, or we deliver meals to those who suffer more than any human should, or we remember a tiny grave in the south suburbs where a baby is memorialized, whom we won’t get to know until we step into heaven. We sink to our knees to pray until our knees feel sore and nearly bruised.
I recently heard an interview with an author of a new book called Gentle and Lowly; The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers. (Click here for the discussion.) I immediately ordered a copy for myself and a few others to give away. This is a book for those of us who struggle to believe that Jesus really loves us. We think that Jesus merely tolerates us; puts up with us; is largely disappointed in us. And our life is too much.
The author, Dane Ortlund, points out that there is only one instance wherein Jesus describes his own heart. He 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 lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-30
He is the son of God. What does He mean by lowly? Ortlund says lowly means Jesus is accessible. He was (and is) drawn to sinners – not the “righteous” or those with spiritual PhD’s. He hung out (and hangs) with the sufferers and the sinners.
Ortlund elaborates, “He loves to respond to his people if they would but dump in his lap the ruin and wreckage of their lives. He isn’t like you. Even the most intense of human love is but the faintest echo of heaven’s cascading abundance. His heartful thoughts for you outstrip what you can conceive. He intends to restore you into the radiant resplendence for which you were created. And that is dependent not on you keeping yourself clean but on you taking your mess to him.”
Perhaps when we feel most unlovable or most decimated by life – maybe that is precisely when Jesus is most near.
“Our moments of feeling utterly overwhelmed by life are where God’s heart lives. Our most haunted pockets of failure and regret are where his heart is drawn most unswervingly.”
Jesus loves us to the end and back. To the cross and beyond.
Too much, indeed.
Perhaps it’s time to curl up in a zippy and take a nap.
"Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the 99. I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still You give yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God."
Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.