“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.”
Twice in this passage Jesus offers rest to those who come to Him. In the first He offers it as a gift and in the second promises that people will find it in their everyday working relationship with Him. Clearly this rest is something, then, that is a part of Him and that He is both willing and able to share with others.
The rest to which He is referring is not just a physical relaxation or an absence of hardship or even suffering, but something far deeper and profound. At one level it is the opposite of worry or fretting. At another it is the absence of a striving for perfection and acceptability through an obsession about keeping the law and all the laws dictated by both society and religion. This would include not feeling the need to manipulate or buy the affection or attention of others in our relationships, nor to prove ourselves in any way. At its deepest it is laying aside the unbearably heavy burden of sin with its guilt and shame and rejection.
Rest is found in our acceptance by Jesus and, through Him, by the Father. It is the unlovely prodigal dragging himself, or herself, home and finding the arms and blessing of God waiting for him. After all the journeys and strivings this is where he belongs and where he finds total acceptance and love. There is no longer any need to pretend or to hide his truth from himself or others. The real him has found the real God and the real freedom. And, because he is lovely in the eyes and heart of the Father, he finally becomes lovely himself. He is loved into loveliness.
Rest it not having to earn but being prepared to accept. God’s love, God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, God’s salvation, God’s gifts, God’s empowerment are all available. They cannot be earned or bought, just accepted with humble delight.
Rest is allowing God to carry the major part of the burdens of life as we walk with Him – whatever they are. In addition, it is accepting that ours is not the sole responsibility to solve the problems of the world in general or of our world in particular. As we walk with Jesus it is for Him to lead, direct and instruct. Our part is to ask, to listen, to obey and to trust. And although He may require certain responses and actions from us they will be lighter than those imposed by the world or our own fears and inadequacies. They will be those which He is prepared to endorse, encourage and empower.
Rest and peace are closely related to each other and both come from our Lord. With them comes meaning for our lives as well as hope, assurance, and joy, no matter the circumstances in which we might find ourselves. They are facilitated by our faith and trust in Him – and hampered by our doubts and self-concerns. We rest in the security of our relationship with the Lord, which is dependent only upon His limitless love and endless provision and control. Trusting Him enough to commit everything into His hands we know that in Him all is, and will be, well.
Turn to Him right now. Tell Him you trust Him. Keep reminding yourself that you do!
Lord Jesus, please help me to live, love and work in Your presence and under Your direction, and to trust you in all the areas that cause me concern. Amen.