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How To Rest Well

"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.“ (Matthew 11:28 -30 ESV) 

"I just want a break."

We all at some point in our lives have expressed this desire. This desire normally arises when we have come to the point of exhaustion. This exhaustion can be physical, spiritual or emotional. Whichever form our exhaustion takes, what we truly long for is rest. We want to be free from the feelings of weariness and exhaustion we are experiencing. Many things in our lives can be the cause of this weariness and exhaustion. This could be the daily pressure of meeting demands at our jobs, maybe it’s the weight and responsibilities as a father or mother, maybe the cause could be the failure of not meeting the expectations of loved ones or it could be the continual feeling of guilt for some sin you have not been able to conquer. As a result, we try to get away from the responsibilities and pressures we believe are the cause of our exhaustion in order to be refreshed and replenished. We plan for vacations, exclusive getaways or sometimes withdraw from others only to find out that the rest we need is much deeper. At the core of our exhaustion is a weary soul. Therefore, we need soul rest. How do we get that rest? Jesus’s invitation to the exhausted and tired grants us the rest we need if we would accept his offer. Three things Jesus tells us to do: Come, take, and learn.


How often do we run to things of this world to find rest for our souls only to find out they can’t completely satisfy us? In our weariness, we fill our hearts with god -substitutes rather than God himself. These very things that we substitute in place of coming to God reveal that we have looked to these things to satisfy us rather than God. Our constant laboring to find rest outside of God also reveals we are trusting in our own strength to save ourselves and that we believe we are in control. Rather than saving us from our weariness our efforts only prove futile and we become even more overburdened. To the overburdened, Jesus holds out an invitation which is to come to him. This invitation is a daily invitation. He longs for us to bring those things that are burdening us and release them to him. In our coming to him he also promises to give us rest. This rest is a settled rest that we can receive as we continually come to him by faith and place our trust in him. This rest also sustains and empowers us even in the midst of our labors.


Christ also says to take my yoke upon you - Yokes were a piece of wood used by masters to keep oxen under control and to guide them to perform useful work. Two animals would normally be held together by a yoke to help them share the load in pulling a till or a buggy of some sort. The yoke would allow the animals to support each other in pulling the heavy weight. Jesus is asking us to come to him and take his yoke is saying he wants to come alongside us and take the weight of our burdens off our shoulders and lay them on him. This happens as we surrender our wills, wants and desires to him. In doing this, he makes our burden lighter. This is because his yoke is easy and his burden is light. His yoke is a yoke of grace and therefore we can be liberated from the internal weariness we may be experiencing as a result of laboring in our own strength rather than resting in Christ. In submitting ourselves fully to him we can rest and trust his work on our behalf.


Lastly, Christ calls us to learn from him. In learning from him, what we will find is that he is gentle and humble in heart. Christ rather than holding onto his rightful privileges humbled himself and gave his life for us that we can share in the privilege of being adopted as children of God. His heart toward us is one of gentleness also as he deals with us in grace and love and he does everything for his glory and our good. This is where true rest is found, in enjoying and delighting in the one who is eternally delightful.

In reading this you may be wondering so how will this look practically? Here are a couple of ways we can come, take and learn from Christ:

  1. Come to him in prayer – Set aside personal time to be with God.
  2. Take in the grace of his people – Spend time with his people. A means God uses to encourage us and remind us of the Gospel is through his people.
  3. Learn – Stay connected to God’s word. The primary way God reveals himself to us is through his word. If we desire to grow in our relationship with God and to know him more we must be constantly devoted to his word.