Sacred Spaces 324 – Rest for the weary
7 February 2012
[I write this Sacred Spaces sitting here at a coffee shop called JAVA, here in Durban North. It’s interesting watching the cars drive by and here the general buzz of people out and about. Indeed, a different feeling to sitting in the Eagle & Child pub (Oxford) or some other random coffee shop in the UK, but life is on the move. “Because in Him we live and move and have our being” – Acts 17: 28 (How, I pray that verse becomes more and more real for you and I.]
Part 3 our theme of “Looking to Jesus”
We catch up with Him carrying a yoke. Could that be “your” yoke He is helping carry? Or does He offer another sort of yoke?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11: 28 – 30)
Are you like me? Always when I read words from scripture that talk of rest or being restored or giving peace, my heart skips a beat. I want in on that offer. An offer of rest for this busy heart and mind of mine, yes please.
He is that rest.
I know a bit about other religions and I have not heard of any of them “offering rest”
Religions throw a “keep working hard to be okay with your god” idea at you. That’s not freedom to me.
Then in Matthew 11, I see and hear of a freedom in Jesus.
Let’s break down the scripture a bit. Jesus invites us to “come” meaning we have to act on our part. Jesus always invites, but so often we can be so stubborn and not “go” to Him. Jesus is not gonna drag us… going to Him, needs to be our choice.
Weary and burdened. I think no one is immune to those. We so often carry burdens. Life here in the world can be hard. Deadlines, bonds, education, health, family, provision, decisions, worry, need for safety… all of it creates stress.
The invitation is for REST. My favourite picture of rest is from the well-known Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not be in want,
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me besides quiet waters,
He restores my soul.”
Can you feel this imagery? How we all want our souls to be restored.
“Take my yoke upon you” What does Jesus mean here?
This is brilliant when we know what a yoke is (because no one wants egg thrown on them):
From the picture we see that a yoke is used for oxen to carry a load.
What is interesting is that it’s for 2 oxen. (NOT one!) This is important for us to remember. Jesus walks with us and helps us with life’s burdens.
Yet I noticed something else; Jesus said to “take my yoke” upon you. Not our own yoke?
So what does that mean?
Is it possible that we “carry” the wrong “load” in life so often? We fret about the wrong things. Where did stress come from? Is it God made? No way!
Stress is man-made. We run around chasing our tails too often! We run after the wrong things. We sponge our worries. Why oh why?
Jesus challenges us at the end of His sermon on WORRY in Matthew 6: 33 to “seek first his kingdom and all his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I believe this! Do you?
And how I do struggle to put Him first…
So I know the solution to doing life well lies in Him, yet I am foolish so often, I forget to seek Him first.
So in taking Jesus’ yoke, we are not “ignoring” our life’s hassles, yet in seeing life through Jesus’ eyes, we gain new perspective, we learn to put our energies in the right things.
This is the gospel, the good news. Believe it, embrace it!
“For I am gentle and humble in heart”
You can’t pretend that doesn’t sound inviting…
Humble? Huh? Well look at all these books that are about “self-help” and “seven ways to living effectively” or whatever other nonsense is out there… how arrogant!
Jesus is humble, that’s what I want in on.
And finally we are told His yolk is easy and His burden is light. Truth is there is still a yoke to carry and a burden to lift. We can’t and should not want to live a life in a “bubble.” (Heck, that wouldn’t be living.)
So life has things to carry, HOWEVER with Jesus we learn to carry the right things, and we are given strength to deal with those “loads” because “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.” (Phil 4: 13)
And at the end of the day, knowing what a yoke looks like, we see as we CARRY things in life that Jesus is by our side. How beautiful!
Hearing His promise “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13: 5
Rock of Ages,
Show me how to lean on You
My strength, I give to You
Let me be weak
And yet so strong in You
May I stand firm