Rest For The Stressed
Some of the most well-received words of our Lord are found in Matthew 11:28. Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.
This is an invitation from our Savior. Yet, as He walked among men, He was one who knew little rest. Day after day, the crowds followed; begging for healing, for teaching, for signs, and for miracles. Some nights He prayed all night. One night, He went walking on the water. And by His own testimony, the son of man hath not where to lay his head. (Matthew 8:20).
He knew weariness beyond what most of us have ever endured. Even at the time of His crucifixion, He had not slept in over 36 hours! Once, when He went to the desert to rest, He found a crowd waiting to be taught. Till it was over, He was feeding loaves and fishes to them also. Did He complain? Did He whine? Did He ever make it known that He was not being treated fairly?
Perhaps it seems like a paradox that the One who knew very little rest is inviting all to come and rest. Jesus says, Come; I will give you rest, I will refresh you. But what is even more surprising is that the rest which Jesus gives, includes work. Jesus continues with a command, Take my yoke upon you. We all know the purpose of a yoke. A yoke is to hitch two animals together, not for pleasure, but for work. Carnal man cannot understand this paradox.
How can being yoked together with Christ award one with rest? How can work be rest?
It is no secret that we live in a society that is probably heavier laden than in the time of Christ. People are taking on larger responsibilities, more land, more cows, more construction crews, and larger overhead. Day after day, they rush from project to project, responsibility to responsibility, from obligation to obligation. Hardly a day goes by that someone is not overheard complaining about all the things they have to do. Jesus says, Come; I will give you rest. Yoke yourself with me.
While this makes little sense to carnal man, it should be perfectly understood by those who have been born again. They should be those who have realized what Jesus is talking about.
To be yoked with Christ does not mean we will be consigned to the rocking chair. But it does mean we will have rest. This is a promise. We will have rest that soothes, rest that satisfies, and rest that is lasting.
One of the principles of being yoked together with Christ is to practice self-denial.
This includes denial of my dreams of work or hobbies. This includes denial of my pleasures and choices.
The off ox or horse in the yoke must give into the lead animal every time. Anything else generates confusion and is ineffective; so it is in the yoke with Christ. To be yoked with Him requires that I give up my preferences, wishes, or desires every time. When we do this, it provides a whole new experience or outlook on life.
Perhaps this indicates something about this rest. To be yoked with Christ yokes us to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows us better than our friends or employers know us. He knows our temptations and our weak areas of life. Because Christ knows us, He will always lead us in His best path.
Can we see what happens at this point? Now I no longer have to fret over life; I am yoked with a Leader who knows me best. I no longer have to worry over business deals; I am yoked with Christ. I no longer have to fight for my rights; I am yoked with Christ.
Thus the whole perspective of life changes. A flat tire on the way to an important appointment is no longer a day gone wrong. A broken-down tractor on harvest day is no longer a disaster. My Leader in the yoke is taking me through this path. At this point, I seek His purpose, and I forgo my schedule.
So, what happens to the one who is yoked with Christ?
This man has rest. He is convinced that this experience is one that Christ needs him to go through for a specific purpose. Perhaps it is only to teach him to be more Christ-like. Maybe it is so that the timing can be perfectly arranged to meet someone who needs to know about yokes and Christ. And with this understanding, you and I can rest. Why? Because we are exactly where our Leader wants us to be. And we know that is the best place on earth to be.
And lastly, let me leave you with this thought: "Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee."