DG-blog-header-Apr18-01 I received some difficult, hurtful news yesterday. News that caused pride to surface, rage to bubble-up, and pain to abound. As I laid in bed, desperately trying to escape the taunting lies that filled-up my head, I was met with restlessness and sleeplessness instead of peace. In a plea and an attempt to set my mind on things above, I began reciting Matthew 11:28-30 to myself over and over and over.

"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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

I wish I could say I peacefully drifted off to sleep upon reminding myself of the richness of this verse. But I didn't. It seemed to amplify the restlessness I felt. The recitation of the passage became less and less about falling asleep, and more and more about knowing God's goodness and letting His Word change me, pruning away my sinfulness. An Address "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. " Christ addresses this statement to "all who labor and are heavy laden." This exhortation invites those who labor and are burdened into Christ's secure fold. Us who are wearied by the world. Us who are trying their best to be faithful and obedient to the tasks at hand. Us who are burdened by sorrows and suffering. Christ is calling and encouraging those who have been caught in the throes of life and fractured by sin to come to Him. What an astounding invitation! DG-instas-Apr18- When we are distressed and dismayed and broken, we are invited to come to Him. When we are distracted and busy and overwhelmed, we are urged into His arms. When things don't seem to make sense, when our souls cry out for rest, we are welcomed-in by God Himself. Each of us has experience being burdened and wrestling through this life. Christ doesn't discriminate. He is beckoning every single one of us to come to Him and find rest. An Instruction "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. . .For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" Christ describes His rest as requiring an action on our part. When we take on His yoke and learn from Him, we will find the rest that we have been searching for. At too quick of a glance, it seems strange and punishing that Jesus would ask those of us who are already laboriously burdened to take on His burden, or yoke, as well. We have enough to bear, why would we want to add on to our load? A yoke is probably a foreign instrument to most of us, but to Jesus' immediate audience this imagery would have been clear. Yokes, used for plowing, were a means by which two oxen were connected. The farmer drives the plow and oxen, and the oxen provide the brute strength which enables the plow to work and break the ground. The oxen, connected by the yoke, share the burden of work. DG-instas-Apr18-2 Christ instructs us to take His yoke upon us, and then provides two reasons why we should do so. Firstly, we are invited to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him because He is gentle and lowly in heart. When we take off our own burdensome yokes, and put on the yoke of Christ instead, we're allowed to learn His character. When we share our burdens with things of this world, or yokes bear down and break our necks, but when we share the burden of work with Jesus we learn from His meekness. The character of Christ is something that we should always seek to emulate, and this instance is no exception. His gentleness and lowly heart is what drives work forward. His humility empowers the ground to be perfectly tilled. The second reason He gives for the superiority of His yoke is that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. Submission to the yoke of Christ is easy and light because, in part, of the singular purpose with which we plow alongside Him; it is easy and light because of our focused faith in God. It is easy and light because our purpose is to submit to Him, and not to this world. His yoke is easy and light because we are called to faithfulness and obedience to God alone. This frees us from the strain of the world, and breaks its power over us. So, Jesus isn't adding to our load. By putting on His yoke, our burdens disappear and are replaced with fixation on His meekness and on our singular purpose to obey Him. With His gentle and lowly heart, Christ submitted to the Father, and we are commissioned to imitate that. When we do, we share in the easy, light burden that Jesus offers us. A Promise "You will find rest for your souls" This is the second time that Jesus promises something to those who come to Him and share His yoke: rest. The rest that Christ offers us is enduring and undefiled. It is pure, holy, and true. The rest that He provides is set apart from the rest we might find on earth. While the world might offer us the comforts of food, friendship, or sleep, those will not satisfy us, nor will they bring us peace. But Christ gives abundant rest. Rest that lasts, rest that revives, and rest that teaches us more about Him. DG-instas-Apr18-3 But let us not forget that us finding rest in Christ is contingent on something; this requires participation on our part and represents an active choice in our lives. True rest is not laziness, true rest is leisure. The rest that we find in Christ is work, but it is work that refreshes us. Rest is us working to become more like Him. It is taking on His gentleness and humility and forsaking our brashness and pride. Rest is submitting to the task He has given us, knowing that He is the fount of strength that drives the plow and breaks the ground. Rest is found in detachment from the trivial things of the world and cleaving to the imperishable things above. Rest in Christ comes when we take on His easy yoke and learn from His gentle and lowly heart. When we learn from Him, and imitate His meekness, the burdens and weight and demands of this world become dimmed, and the glory of the Lord appears ever more brightly to our eyes. The paradox of resting in Christ is that it takes work, but the efforts we give to imitating Him and loving His tasks is so very, very worth it. Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.
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