What does it mean to rest? We all know we need it, even crave it, but typically struggle with how to find it, acting like we are too tired to rest. Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30, although encouraging in concept, appear so abstract that we are not even sure what he means (please note I use the “we” intentionally). He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 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.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” How do we get to him? What do we have to trade our heavy burdens for to get his much more manageable yoke? Wait, what’s a yoke?
We took the opportunity to have this discussion a couple of weeks ago on the Student Central Ski Trip, and the result was an encouraging thing to be a part of. Imagine a room full of students, ranging from age, gender, and schools, engaging with one other, vulnerably digging down into their own hearts, and confessing a disconnect between their belief and practice when it comes to making time to spend with God and making that the place to find rest. The obstacles to them finding rest was not the surface things, like a busy schedule or a pressure to say ‘yes’ to things they do not want to do, but rather something much, much deeper. It turns out many of them believed God loved them, but struggled to believe that he liked them, and that was enough to keep them off their knees and out of the Word.
Can you relate to that? Do you agree that, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” but are not sure that God likes you and wants you hanging around? In my own life, this lie creeps in when I feel I’ve fallen so short of his standard and accumulated so much filth because of my callous heart and lack of spiritual discipline, that it angers God that I even thought I could approach him. I say things like, “I will wake up extra early tomorrow and read Leviticus, then, once I do that, I can pray again.” Ridiculous right? I submit, however, that I am not alone. What’s your story?
Allow me to point us Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” The very heart of the Gospel is grace, which is true for those of us in Christ for eternity, and every, single day. The beauty of the Gospel is that we are loved, liked, approved, and welcomed into God’s presence, not because we are worthy, but because we are in the one who is worthy, and that is Jesus Christ. Our souls find rest when we come to God, not with what we think you offer and have accomplished, but rather when we come in the confidence of the person and work of Christ.