This is a guest post by Christine Wanstall who is a friend of Five Capitals in Australia. We thought this was a great message for us all as we head into the busy holiday season.
“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 gently and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. However, if I’m honest this kind of rest is not often my experience. I frequently feel tired and burdened.
When I read this passage it gives me hope that tiredness and burdened shoulders won’t always be my experience. But for many years now I’ve been challenged by the tension I experience in this scripture. This passage tells me Jesus will give me rest, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Yet I constantly find myself in the place of tiredness and burden.
If I took this passage seriously, rest and peace would not just be a momentary relief but would be the state of my soul more often than not.
A new perspective
Recently, I was reflecting on the words Come, Learn, Rest and felt challenged to consider this passage from a discipleship point of view rather than a transaction point of view.
See, I think I’ve been reading this passage like I view shopping. You go around all the shops, buy all this stuff and then when you get home you realize you don’t like most of it. So, you go back to the shop and exchange it. Handing back what you don’t like, you get your money back and feel relieved.
I go through life taking on all sorts of tasks and responsibilities. Then I find myself in a spot I don’t like, so I go to Jesus, hand back the things I don’t like and then feel relieved….only to start the cycle over and over again.
As I looked at this passage through the lens of discipleship, rather than transactional interest, two words struck me about it: proximity and posture. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the phrases in this passage with these two words in mind.
“Come to me….”
This invites us to move closer to Jesus. I can’t hand over my weariness and burdens if I am far away from Jesus. I need to actively move closer to Him to hand these over.
Moving closer to Jesus is about slowing my life down, spending time with the Father, worshipping Him in moments of my day, reading scripture, being more aware of His presence, moving myself towards Him.
My proximity to Jesus determines how much I can hear Him about where I am burdened.
“All you who are burdened…”
What are you carrying that Jesus hasn’t asked you to carry?
What are you trying to achieve in your day that Jesus hasn’t asked you to do? If I believe that Jesus has enough hours in the day to achieve what He wants to get done, what am I trying to jam in my day that the Father is not asking me to do?
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…”
My posture towards Jesus will determine how I take His yoke and how willing I am to learn from Him.
Am I willing to take Jesus’ yoke? Am I willing to learn from Him? Jesus’ invitation is one of gentleness and humility. Is my posture towards him one of arrogance, annoyance, frustration and bitterness?
To take Jesus’ yoke requires me to give up my own. It requires my posture to be one of submission, to mirror Jesus’ own gentleness and humility in receiving from Him the yoke that He wants to place on me.
“You will find rest for your souls”
I feel my soul yearn for this kind of rest. However, it doesn’t strike me as a one off transaction of momentarily experiencing rest, but then taking a deep breath to head back into the world.
This strikes me as a long-term posture. A great promise. You WILL find rest for your souls. Rest is the natural outcome of taking Jesus’ yoke and picking up His yoke.
Questions for reflection
So, here are some questions to help us in proximity and posture:
- Am I willing to move closer to Jesus?
- Am I making space for worship, engaging with scripture, talking with my Father, welcoming the Spirit in my day?
- Am I willing to surrender my agenda, my schedule, my task list, my priorities?
- Am I making space to hear from the Father what He wants to achieve in my day?
- Am I making space to hear from the Father what vision He has for my life, my business, my church rather than telling Him what I want to achieve?