My Labor To Rest

Rest

One of the greatest promises that Jesus gives humanity is found in Matthew 11:28-30:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Rest.

I love this promise but I have such a hard time receiving this promise.  You see, I am a performer.  I feel that I must always be doing something to show God that I am worthy to be used.  I have been brought up with the notion that to be used of God I must “pay the price.”  By that I mean that I must do things in order for God to notice that I am hungry to be used.  I must prove to God that I am dependable and a spiritual go-getter.

There’s a problem with that thinking.  It’s not what Jesus taught.  Look at the promise again.

Come to me and find rest!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oliverkendal/3777040907/ Creative Commons

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oliverkendal/3777040907/
Creative Commons

I’ve lived most of my life on the “treadmill of performance.”  I’ve tried to run faster, harder and longer in order to be used of God.  It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been listening to the Lord to just rest.

It’s interesting that Jesus made this promise to people living under the Old Covenant Law.  They were consistently trying to gain God’s favor by living more righteous and holy lives.  The Law is a harsh taskmaster.  Religion is always hard to live up to.  All the rules are impossible to follow. We will never measure up to religion’s rules.

Not to mention all the rules that religious leaders put upon us to make sure we obey the original rules.

It’s exhausting.

Performing is exhausting.

The “treadmill of performance” is exhausting.

The problem is that you never know when good is good enough.  You never know if you fully measure up.  You certainly can’t rest because you can’t afford to slow down.  You must keep up the pace.  You can’t fall behind.  You can’t show spiritual weakness.  You have to catch up to the pastor or to the apostle that just preached at your church.  You have to be on the same level as your Sunday School teacher that knows the Bible better than anyone.

It’s exhausting.

When we labor under the heavy yoke of rules and regulations we will become exhausted and burned out.  We . . . need . .  . rest!

Jesus calls out, “Come unto me if you are tired.  Come rest!”

Can you hear Him calling out to you?

I’m in season right now where I feel that God has put me on a shelf so to speak.  I’ve been in full-time vocational ministry all my adult life.  For the last four years I’ve been working a job outside of the church.  My “long story short” is that I’ve been through a lot of trials and struggles that have left me saying, on more than one occasion, “I am so tired.”  Yet, I felt that I had to keep pressing through.  I felt that I had to continue to work for whatever it was that I was supposed to be doing.

All the while, I have felt God just saying to my spirit, “Son, just rest.”  But to rest would mean, in my mind, that I am spiritually weak.  I can handle all this.  I feel that I must be doing something.  Anything.  I must be working because that’s what I’ve been taught to do.  I’ll be alright.  Just tell me what to do, where to go, who to see, what to say.  I’ve got this. I don’t need to rest.  I am okay.

Really?

Why do we, especially us men, think that resting is for the weak?

Why are we so performance driven?

Why can’t we just receive this beautiful promise of coming to Jesus and finding rest for our souls?

It’s because we’ve been taught to be self-reliant.  We have become our own saviors, or so we think.  We want to prove to God that we can do it. We want to prove to God, and to ourselves, that we are healthy.  However, if we are healthy then we don’t need Jesus.  He came for the sick.  He came for those needing a rest from their wearisome labors.  He came for those about to be crushed under the weight of religion and rule keeping.

Rest.

It sounds go good.  It sounds so refreshing.

I have no problems sometimes being lazy. By that I mean procrastinating projects because I don’t want to do them.  Being lazy isn’t the same as resting.

Resting is . . . well, resting, relaxing, being inactive, rejuvenating.   It’s taking His yoke upon us.  It’s allowing Him to shoulder the load.

Resting in Jesus is simply trusting in His finished work.

Resting in Jesus is stepping off the treadmill of performance to the realization that I don’t have to do anything to get God’s attention.  I don’t have to do anything to be holy or righteous.  I can just rest in the fact that Jesus did it for me and now He just wants me to rest in His finished work.

Resting is so hard because religion demands that I work.

Resting is so hard because it requires that I let go and lose control.  It’s amazing how much we think we are in control.  Control is an illusion. Resting in Jesus is a reality.

Jesus isn’t looking to put encumbrances upon us.  His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He isn’t looking to imprison us.  He’s looking to free us.

He wants to give you rest because He knows how demanding the world is.  He knows how demanding sin is.  He knows how hard it is to be human.  He wants to give you rest.

His rest must be received.  We must learn to exchange our heavy burdens, worries and cares for His burdens and yoke.

I . . . must  . . .  rest.

Do you find it hard to rest in Jesus?  Do you find yourself striving to get God’s attention?

2 Comments On “My Labor To Rest”

  1. John

    Great article Michael. I guess we have all been on that ‘treadmill’ at some time or other.

    My view change once my view of God as my Heavenly Father. Psalm 145: 8 revolutionised my life! I was introduce not just to law but also a God who, if I didn’t do so and so, no longer loved or accepted me! Thank God that true revelation of His nature and character brought about a transformation of my heart and mind. Thank you!

    John.

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