Choosing Sabbath Rest

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Are there any other words that can soothe your soul like those? As the promise of rest fall upon our ears, we feel the weight of juggling many burdens. We have so much going on that pulls in many directions. If only we didn’t need to sleep! Maybe cloning ourselves could help us get one kid to swimming, bring another to tennis, make dinner, and actually sit down to eat it together!

Trying to serve two masters

Living in this world is just plain hard. Every day, life instructs us to do more and to live for self, even while we're trying to obey God’s command of loving him and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40). As believers we are trapped in-between the realities of this broken world and the breaking in of God's kingdom. It’s exhausting trying to navigate both. We try to serve others with love, and yet we find that we too want admiration from our peers. 

Relief from the Labor of Two Worlds

How can we live in both of these worlds? Christ says you can’t. Being stuck in the middle means that you are constantly toiling, working, and laboring at the very thing that should be easy and peaceful. The aloe of Christ’s words are for us to simply release the burden of selfish ambition and pick up the lighter burden of forgiveness in Christ. You can't fix it or do it all for yourself, and Christ offers the complete soul-filling rest of realizing you don't have to. 

Jesus' call is to those who are weighed down with laboring. To those who struggle, work against, are tired, or lose heart, Christ offers relief. Living a Christian life can definitely be a struggle and sometimes we feel the exhaustion of laboring. But the laboring we experience is not from being a Christian, but from being a Christian and still trying to be perfect ourselves. 

Faking is exhausting

We sometimes act like we have it all together when we don’t. We pretend to have an ideal life so that people think more highly of us, yet this becomes an exhausting toil. Our marriage might be struggling at home, and yet the sin of pride convinces us that we don’t need to seek help. Our children behave defiantly, but we keep it from our friends who could offer us support. Our relationships suffer from exhaustion in constant activity, yet we couldn't possibly not be involved in everything socially important. Our pride eventually defeats us. Our vices pull at us daily. We fight them by keeping busy, and ironically, the weariness of busyness leaves us weak to resist temptations. In the darkness of the night, we succumb to temptations that have nagged us all day. We become overwhelmed with guilt because we cannot serve sin and God. We cannot serve temptations and experience God's rest.

Words of Hope

“Come to me all who labor and are tired, and I will give you rest.” 

In Christ we find peace. Peace in who we are being made into, peace in where we are, peace in the decisions we’ve struggled with and yet held on to, and peace in the knowledge that, even in our failures, the grace of God overcomes. Christ’s words to come and rest in him are there because he knows we struggle and we need a daily reminder of what rest in him looks like. Just as each and every day we thank God for his love and mercy, we need a daily reminder to stop fighting and laboring and simply rest. So while these tips are not exhaustive, I pray that they encourage you in your resting in Christ.

  • Realize that you are not alone. We all struggle, and, while our battles look different from others', the labor is the same. When Christ says “Come to me, ALL who are weary,” the “all” should remind us that we aren’t alone. We all are tired and need to find rest. So think of the “all” more as “every single person in this world.”
  • You are not alone so ask for help. Galatians 6:2 reminds us to bear each other’s burdens--but the reverse is that we must actually share our burdens in order to be given help. We cannot expect people to be mind-readers, just as we wouldn’t want them to expect us to be either. Our triune God is relational in every way and created us to be relational as well. So let’s make sure we live out that communal identity in our lives together.
  • Rest. Half the battle each day is the battle we make it. We live with doubt, questioning our actions. We battle our very thoughts as guilt and shame take up residence. But we are not just the sum of what we do. You are more than your sins, you are more than your struggles, you are more than your battles. You are a child of God, and you are already saved (Eph 1:5). The nature of our battles can be strong and weigh heavy upon us. Even though their pull is strong, we should remember that God’s saving grace can not be defeated.
  • Rest in Christ. A yoke is meant to guide and tether two animals together. So when Christ invites us to take up his yoke, he offers for us to be tethered to him, linked with Christ in thoughts and actions. We allow Christ to take on our burdens--but that means we actually have to give it to him fully. As we pray, we must remember to release our burdens and let God carry them. Ask God for forgiveness but then drink in the fact that you are already forgiven (Rom 6:6).  

All of this resting in Christ is complicated within the busyness of our lives. I speak this from experience. Be sure to take a few minutes with God each day to fill you up and to remember to whom you belong. Resting in Christ Jesus will equip you to face the day's challenges. When life overwhelms you, opt to drop an activity that drains you and make room for the one activity that fills it back up.

About the author — Rev. Kelly Vander Woude

Kelly Vander Woude is always looking for something yummy to put on his smoker…and then getting friends and family to enjoy it with him. When he’s not smoking food he can be found playing and hanging out with his two kids, wife, and their dog, as well as preaching at Immanuel CRC in Fort Collins, CO. Oh…and he’s usually trying to learn some new musical instrument with the hopes of one day mastering at least one of them! You can find more of his writings at

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