Rest is something that I think we’re all looking for, especially at this time of year. Is it just me, or does life seem to speed up exponentially after September ends and October begins? I feel like I’ve been in overdrive for 3 months now. And before I get blasted by my family for taking a trip to Disney World recently, I’ll pose a question: when was the last time YOU went on vacation and actually returned feeling rested?
What I’m talking about is not just time off from work, though that is a part of it. It seems like life just accelerates, and you get a crystal-clear understanding of why people always say “stop and smell the roses.” Every area of life: marriage, kids, work, school, church, they all seem to be continually filled with things to do.
And in the midst of “doing”, you look around and realize that you’re another year older, and yet are you another year wiser? Have you learned from the things you’ve done the past year? Have you done ANY of those things you set out to do in that year? How many quality relationships have you built in the past year? How much time have you really taken to get to know your spouse? How much time have your really spent in the Word?
Or are your days filled with the following routine: get up, get dressed, go to work, read the paper, come home, eat dinner, put the kids to bed, watch a few hours of mindless drivel on the tele, and go to bed. Then get up and do it all over again tomorrow.
Now, before I am blasted yet again by the argument that “that’s just life,” I’ll ask another question: is it really? Is it the life that Jesus died to give us? He said he came that we might “have life, and that more abundant.” (See John 10:10) I know there will ALWAYS be the routine part of life, the part we’re all destined to endure. But I don’t think that the life I described in the previous paragraph is it. I think we settle for that life. I think Jesus is offering us a life beyond our imagining, if we’ll just take His offer and follow Him.
Look at it this way: the lives we live, do we feel at rest? Let me go out on a limb and say “no, we don’t.” Listen to what Jesus has to say on the subject: “Come to Me, all you 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Let’s dissect that for a minute. First of all, Jesus is calling us. He’s offering us rest. It’s not like we have to beg for it. It’s there for us, all we have to do is go to the One Who offers it.
Second, take a look at who He’s calling: all who labor. Here’s a quick lesson in Greek for everyone out there, compliments of my pastor: “In the Greek, all means all and that’s all all means.” He’s calling each and every one of us, ALL of us that labor and carry heavy burdens. Now I don’t think He’s simply talking about our jobs. It’s deeper than that. I think He’s talking about our laboring and toiling in areas where He has already won the battle. I am constantly struggling in areas that I know He’s already triumphed. Why? It is DONE. Move on. Let it go. And how many of us are “heavy laden.” How many are burdened by something that weighs on our minds and souls each and every day? To those who are, our Lord says “Come.”
Now it can get tricky. Some would tell you that following Jesus is complicated, that there are certain things you need to do, and then certain things you should NEVER do. They want to set up rules and regulations and tell you how Jesus would have you follow. In actuality, it’s really very simple (though so few of us do it, myself included): FOLLOW HIM. Let Him lead the way. When we’re following our own way, we end up weary and heavy laden. When we follow Jesus, we have a light burden and find rest. And what is Jesus’ way? To do the will of the Father (John 8:28). There is a peace that comes from following the will of the Father. It is a peace so great that even the prospect of crucifixion was not enough to deter Jesus. And the very peace that He had is the peace He offers to us. So, if we’re not at rest, who’s to blame?