Strange question right? To those who can just live a relaxed life, and have ways of de-stressing, rest is a natural thing and easy to come by. But for the heart that is beat up and has a hard time letting go, rest can seem impossible. The things that others find relaxing may do nothing for you, or may actually make things worse.
So how does a tortured heart find rest in this world that seems all but God forsaken?
In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus invites us all to come to Him when we are weary, overwhelmed, and just plain burdened, so that we can find the rest we need. He loves us so very much and wants us to live a life rested and at peace. The very fact that we avoid stress, and stressful situations points out to us that we were not made for stress. The very fact that our bodies have stress coping mechanisms that help us to deal with that stress is another indicator that living a life bound up by anxieties and stress was not God’s plan. (Had it been His plan why would He offer rest, and why would He create an entire system in our bodies that copes with the effects of our stress? )
Jesus promises when we come to Him, we can learn His way of doing things and find rest. Not just physical rest, the kind of rest that we all need, deep soul rest. This rest is a rest where your heart can be free, the anxieties leave, and you become like a little child sitting on her daddy’s lap smiling and enjoying life with no worries because Papa God is right there protecting you.
So how do we get this rest? The answer may be hard to understand at first but hang with me because it is sweeter than wine.
We get this rest by submission to the Lordship of Jesus. …Ouch right? But wait, don’t quit on me here. There is more to this than you understand.
Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle, and lowly in heart…” He is gentle! From His own mouth He is saying, “I am gentle”. His Lordship is not harsh and demanding it is gently like a Father with a newborn baby. His commandments are not grievous ( 1John 5:3)
When we take the yoke of Jesus upon ourselves we learn His ways, and His ways are easy and light. (Matt 11:30) He promises us rest for our souls if we do. But what if we don’t? What if He asks us to do something that we fail at or that we just emotionally can’t handle yet? Well take heart beloved one. There is now therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Jesus. He will not condemn us. In fact He tells us that He gives us peace, not what the world gives (John 14:27).
When we mess up in this world people don’t give us peace. They give us HELL. And that is the way of the world, immediate judgement and condemnation for every mistake. Jesus however, promises us that we will receive no judgement from Him or condemnation from Him, only peace. Why? Because He believes so strongly in the power of His love and forgiveness to keep us on track and headed the right direction. (We may miss out on the rest, and we often do, but we will not receive condemnation.)
There is more power in the Love of God to keep us living a holy life, than in fear of punishment to get us running from sin. Time and time and time again it’s been proven. God is love. Run to that love.
The last thing I want to mention is that Jesus did not say “Take my rules upon you!” He said “Take my Yoke upon you”. A yoke is a strong bar of metal or wood that binds two oxen, cows, or horses together so that they may share the weight of the load they are pulling. Jesus is saying “I want to be joined with you in this effort. I am not leaving you all alone to do it yourself.”
When we come to Jesus needing rest He takes the weight on His shoulders and gives us His shalom. When we follow His wisdom for our lives we find rest. Take His yoke upon you today, and learn from Him. Find rest when you start applying His wisdom to your circumstances and letting Him be Daddy God in every situation.
Don’t we all wish our earthly Fathers could do this for us?