I had recently become very tired in a season of back-to-back commitments and events. I was daily labouring for good things, with a heart in the right place, but it had gotten to a point where I was nearly exhausted.
I needed joy and strength, so I went to my church’s upper room to pray. And there I read that famous verse on rest:
“Come to me, all who labour 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)
COME TO ME
In the first place God says to us who are all so tired: Come.
Come and spend time with me. Come and find rest. Will we carve out time to come and sit by Jesus’ feet? (Luke 10:42) He’s waiting to give us rest.
We need to train ourselves to go to God. I’m learning that true rest isn’t quite something that falls into your lap. It doesn’t equate to more hours of sleep, an afternoon with a good book, or a day spent café hopping. It’s found when we rouse ourselves from slumberous ways, and actually go to Jesus to spend unhurried time with Him.
Paradoxically, rest requires intentional effort.
TAKE MY YOKE
Jesus says to take his yoke. We have to be intentional about doing so. A yoke is a wooden crosspiece you put on the necks of two animals, to which a rope tied to the cart behind them is fastened.
The yoke which we carry will direct and determine the path of our entire lives. So whose yoke are we wearing? Is it the yoke of our self-ambition – the yoke of what we want to do in life? The yoke of what we think rest means?
Or are we carrying the yoke of the Father’s will? If so, we have a great promise in Proverbs 3:6.
“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:6)
And what are we carrying in our wooden cart behind us? Our work, all our stuff? Are we even carrying things that have to do with God? If we’re yoked to the wrong things and pulling the wrong cart – is it any wonder that life would feel like a meaningless chore?
But if we are yoked with Jesus, we have this promise that His “yoke is easy”, and His “burden is light”. After all, it means that our yoke partner is infinitely wiser and stronger than us. We just have to follow His lead.
That doesn’t mean life will be smooth sailing. You still have to pull the cart! There is work to be done. But it does mean you will be filled with peace – restfulness in work – driven by a higher purpose being aligned to his His will. That’s what a Matthew 6:33 life looks like.
LEARN FROM ME
To “learn” is to be teachable. Personally, it meant acknowledging in the upper room that what I thought would be restful might not be the best way for myself. If we would follow Jesus we must lay our pride down. We need to humble ourselves, let God into our lives, and say: “I don’t know better than You. In fact, I don’t really know at all. Lord, please show me Your better way.”
And He did. That afternoon I sat by Jesus’ feet, realigned my life to His will, and told my Lord I wanted to learn from Him. After an unhurried time, when I lifted my head from the carpet floor and got off my knees, I left the room feeling more rested than I had been in a long time.
*BONUS POINT* RENEW YOUR MIND
I was at a conference recently where Senior Pastor Yang from Cornerstone Church was speaking. One thing that stayed with me was this: “Your life doesn’t change over long periods of time. Life changes when thinking changes. If we don’t start thinking new thoughts this year, we’ll be living last year next year.”
It’s certainly true, so to renew my thinking I made a little chart which I call The 6 Whats. I like to take it to a private place with God and ask Him to give me clarity and speak to me as I begin to fill the chart up:
THE 6 WHATS
1. What am I worried about?
2. What do I feel about it?
3. What’s the normal solution?
4. What does God say about this in the Bible?
5. What must I surrender to Him?
6.What will I do in obedience?
I like to put these questions into a chart with columns. One “what” for every column. In the first column, I write down what worries me: “Daunted at the long week ahead”.
Then I write what it makes me feel in the column next to it: “Drained”.
In the third, I write what I think is the solution: “More sleep”.
At the fourth, I get my Bible out, ask God to speak to me, and I read. I make it a point not to use my phone, or to Google certain answers. I just sit with God and let my mind be fully engaged with the Word, without shortcuts. Then when my heart stirs at something God says about my current issue, or certain words pop up at me, I write them down: “Come to me … Take my yoke … Learn from me …”
At the fifth, I surrender my old way of thinking in Column 3 – what I think is the solution – to God, and ask that He leads me along His better way. Then I tick the box to seal the surrender.
Finally, as I kneel before God, and take His yoke upon myself, I begin looking to Him for the next action step. How will I now live life differently, so that I can imitate Christ. What will I do differently the next time my struggles resurface?
We desperately need clarity in a cluttered life. We need to chase God’s destiny for us so that when pain and pointlessness set in, we’ll still have purpose.
By giving up our old ways of thinking for God’s ways – rejecting that which is normal and worldly for what God wants – we may then experience a renewal of the mind (Romans 12:2).
Peace is waiting for you. Come, take it and learn from Jesus.