When I graduated from college I took a job teaching English in the country of Taiwan for what amounted to a school year.
It was a very challenging and interesting experience for me. I was thrust into a new culture, an assortment of new foods and maybe the most difficult -- a new language, Mandarin.
Mandarin is a tonal language that has four different tones. This is quite a bit different from our phonetics or pronunciation based language.
In Mandarin you can get the tones of the words right and phonetics wrong and "get by," but on the other hand you can say the phonetics right and utilize a wrong tone you can completely miscommunicate with those around you.
One day I popped into work practicing my Mandarin and decided to strike up a conversation with the owner of the school, a woman who went by the English name Stella.
I commenced on a sentence or two feeling really proud of myself that I was speaking Chinese.
After I uttered my pleasantry, Stella, in all seriousness, looked at me and said, "Do not ever say that to me again!" To this day I have no idea what I said, but it must not have been perfect!
It can be scary to begin something, leaving us unsure of what to do. Maybe you have started something new. Maybe it was a new era in your life like fatherhood, marriage or a career. Perhaps recently, you have begun a new relationship, got going on another job or started a college class.
What about beginning with God. What if someone came up to you and said, "How do I start with God?" What would you say? How would you direct them? Maybe this is a question that you have. It could be a frustrating question for you.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus Christ 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 humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
The Lord Jesus invites all to come to him when they are ready.
What does it mean to be ready for God?
In the above passage, it is hinted at that those who are ready are the ones who are weary and burdened. Life is taking it right out of them. They cannot continue on in the same way anymore.
It could be the breakdown of a marriage and all the pain that comes with a family being ripped apart. Or maybe it's the loss of income that leads to the inability to make a mortgage payment. It could also be the dark haze of depression setting in because of a myriad of reasons and leading to thoughts of suicide.
If you are worn out and continue to struggle with the strain of your circumstances, Jesus says, "Come to me."
Brokenness is the key. Brokenness is realizing that we can't do it on our own. It is articulating plainly, "I need help." It is coming to the conclusion, "My way is not working and I need a new way."
Turning to the Lord brings rest and a different way to walk in this life.
Many times terrible circumstances bring people to the point of brokenness and they are ready to reach out for God's help. But brokenness can also be arrived at intellectually by realizing the fragility of life and the need for the Almighty.
Are you ready to begin with God? Simply call out to him and he will meet you where you are. Maybe you need to "begin again" with God. If so, I encourage you to bring your burdens to him.
Imagine what would happen if you started anew with God.
It would change your life and those around you.
Peace would flood in and you would find true rest.
The Genesis One Gathering is 5 p.m. this Sunday, March 18, at Petoskey Middle School. For more information, call (231) 487-0081. Comments and insights are welcomed on Twitter @NormByers.