Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Nothing but Fumes
Mild nostalgia for the souped-up preachers I loved as kid occasionally prompts me to watch televangelists. Some are very good; others aren’t. The common appeal these days seems to be pep. (Power was big when I was young.) It’s sometimes hard to locate scriptural nuggets buried in the motivational malarkey. According to a lot of these ministers, living by faith is a joyride. Grab the wheel, kick into high gear, and drive like the dickens. Don’t let anything or anyone slow you down—not doubt, not doubters, not temptation, and most certainly not the Tempter. Should any of these speed bumps arise, TV preachers recommend a lot of talking. “Tell yourself this,” or “Tell the Devil that.” Apparently, these bromides are all you need to leave the conflict behind in a cloud of dust.
They get me tired, these coaches for Christ—principally because they skim over a very real aspect of following Jesus. We get tired. Life naturally piles up demands on our time, energy, and attention. Couple that with the believer’s unnatural, faith-driven approach to life’s stresses and moving forward at all is miraculous. Thankfully, we’re not stuck for life with all of the strains and burdens taxing us. Bumpy patches and steep inclines give way to stretches of smoother road where we gain momentum. But let’s be truthful. When everything comes at us at once and all kinds of problems block our way, we’ve got nothing but fumes to keep us going. We’re weary and carrying added weight. Thinking we can talk ourselves back up to speed is foolish. We need rest.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. In our case, though, when the going gets tough, we go to Jesus, per His instructions. We know we’re running low on confidence and commitment. Barreling ahead on our own strength isn’t an advisable risk since He’s already promised to restore us. So how do we do that? What does resting in Christ involve?
First, we pull aside for time alone with Him. This requires shuffling priorities, especially if we’re already pressed for time. So often prayer, meditation, and Scripture are the first things we drop when problems and responsibilities overcrowd our days. They should be the last. Lacking time to spend in Christ’s presence indicates we need more time than usual with Him. We let something else wait; it’s not as urgent as finding rest. Whispering prayers while we run errands or meditating on the Word as we wait to see the doctor are terrific ways to redeem lost time. But we’re not resting. It’s vital we reach Christ at a time and place conducive to listening and learning. They’re the keys to rest.
No Problems Allowed
Second, before entering our rest period, we observe the “No Problems Allowed” sign on the door. Burdens and worries depleted us to begin with. Going over them when should be resting defeats the purpose. Since Jesus knows and understands our struggles, there’s nothing to tell. Yes, He’s concerned about our situation. 1 Peter 5.7 encourages us to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Rest begins with release—turning our troubles over to Christ—yet we take care of that prior to seeking rest. Notice Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” This is about us, not the issues confronting us. He goes on to say when we come to Him for rest, He replaces our burdens with a lighter load. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11.29)
“Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46.10 says. “Learn from Me,” Jesus says. Rest won’t come by ruminating over our worries. Rest is a listening proposition. Christ does the talking. We become still and as He speaks, we know we’re hearing God’s voice. The gentleness of His words and the simplicity of His counsel revive our spirits and renew our resolve. “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart,” David writes in Psalm 27.14. Waiting is resting. Courage is confidence. Strength will come. It takes time, and the time it takes is the time we make.
Rest comes by taking time to listen.