“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!
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster