You will probably find that this is a common theme in my posts:
Jesus calls us to rest.
Because I don’t know about you, but I struggle to apply this to my life. How do I rest? Is he just talking about my salvation? No? Okay, then how do I live in this rest and also get everything done? How do I run my business and minister to my family and serve my church and still rest? Is it simply an attitude, a perspective, or is it really a matter of my calendar?
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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.Matt. 11:28-29 (ESV)
Let’s break that down.
First, Jesus welcomes me–because I will openly admit to being one of those “who labor and are heavy laden.” I labor: I ty to serve my family faithfully, but there is always so much more I could/should/want to be doing. I work at my career: entrepreuer, educator, photographer, unending directions and ideas and hours and hours of work. I counsel people in our church, people I love, people going through heartbreaking trials. I lead the music in the church, which is a great joy, but also a calling which I feel needs full-time attention and gets only fleeting moments. And then there are friends and relationships and family spread around the country, and personal projects and hobbies and trying to take care of myself. Labor. Heavy laden.
Jesus doesn’t say, “Just leave all of those things right here, and go play.” His instruction comes from a familiar scenario to his original listeners: oxen in the field. He invites me to take his yoke on me. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t immediately sound restful. Do you mean that big wooden thing? Take that on me?
Yes. My yoke. In other words, tie yourself to me. We will walk shoulder-to-shoulder. Rather than running down each new path that presents itself, I’m inviting you to walk beside me, at my pace. Learn from me.
Jesus is God, and therefore could have written volumes of attributes to prove his point. I am faithful and strong. I am your fortress. I am Truth. I always know the way. I am Eternal, Unchanging, Secure.
But he instead gives us two of his characteristics:
I am gentle and lowly in heart…
Jesus invites me to walk beside him, to yoke myself to him, and then promises: I am gentle.
It’s not a gentle world. I am rarely gentle with myself. But Jesus longs to show me his gentleness, and to let it redefine my life, my calendar, my relationships.
And he is humble. He does not put himself first. He sacrificed himself for me; how much more would he teach me to live in him.
And indeed, the depth of his humility–he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)–is the source of all of my hope, the reason I can walk side-by-side with him in the first place. Jesus calls me to experience the fullness of his love for me by walking with him, at his pace, on his path.
So, how do we do that?
This morning, getting ready to move into our new house, it means I will start the day by meditating on this truth: I am invited to walk beside Jesus today. I am invited to go through the many demands of the day steeped in his grace, drinking from the flowing water he provides. I am invited to walk at his pace, not running ahead or lagging behind, but walking in step with his Spirit through prayer, through dwelling in the reality of his love for me.
Jesus, it’s a day that I could easily dsecend into stress and anxiety, a day packed with jobs. But you invite me to rest even in the midst of activity. You invite me to walk at your pace and dwell with you. You invite me to the comraderie of shared experience and conversation. And you have even provided many of my brothers and sisters to be your hands and feet today, to help me with many practical tasks. Thank you, Jesus. It is all you; it is all grace. Be glorified in how I live this day. I choose to rest in you, and I will need moment-by-moment reminders of that choice. In your gracious and gentle name, Amen.