When Did Rest Become a Four Letter Word?
Matthew 11:28-30 in the Message Bible says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Does this sound like you? Our culture values busy. Ask anyone walking the social mecca of Monticello, also known as Wal-Mart, how they are, and I would almost guarantee they will say, “I’m so busy!” What are we busy doing? Are we being fruitful, or are we just grinding on the daily hamster wheel of life?
I used to value busy. I used to think that the more things I could pack into my answer somehow made me more awesome, more productive, or more spiritual. I found that all it really made me was grumpy and exhausted. I would come home at the end of the day wondering where my day went and why little to no progress was being made.
God values our quality of life! John 10:10 in the Amplified versions says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”
This tells us the enemy is seeking to destroy our quality of life. He comes to steal away precious moments which God gives us to steward. He comes to steal family dinner time, precious time praying and interceding for others, time spent seeking God and reading His Word, and seeks to exhaust us to the point where we are ready to give up. When speaking about Satan, the Prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 14:12, “How have you fallen from heaven, O light-bringer and daystar, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground, you who weakened and laid low the nations [O blasphemous, satanic king of Babylon!]” He wants to weaken us and take our joy. No one who is exhausted is full of joy. Why does he go after our joy? Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” Without joy, the believer is rendered powerless.
However, the blame cannot be given entirely to Satan. Eve tried that trick in the garden by blaming Satan for eating the fruit, and God didn’t buy her “the devil made me do it” defense. I have found that sometimes I can do a better job than Satan of putting on myself much more than I can bear. Then, I begin the blame game of trying to ask God why He gave me so much to handle, or trying to tell myself that the old Devil is just stealing my time. In reality, when I am overwhelmed to the point of being ready to quit, it’s normally me stepping outside of God’s intention and design for my life.
God is calling us to come away with Him. He’s calling us to a more intimate relationship with Him. That type of intimacy can only happen when we can devote time to Him – to prayer and reading His Word. We will only be able to devote time to him when we begin to edit our life. Not every good thing we do is something that God intended for us to do. Maybe, the kids don’t need to have 5 extra curricular activities each. Maybe, we don’t need to volunteer for everything going. Maybe, we don’t need to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself that seems good. Maybe, we can learn to be content with doing less, having less, and being less. This line of thinking sounds so weird doesn’t it? As I read those words back, I can almost picture the look on your face. When we are willing to let go of a life lived pursuing the “Joneses,” then we can make room and time for a life lived pursuing the Master.
I’m reminded of Luke 10 beginning in verse 38: “Now while they were on their way, it occurred that Jesus entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha received and welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching. But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!
But the Lord replied to her by saying, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.”
Here Martha is just trying to be a good hostess. She wants to make sure everything is perfect for Jesus’ visit. She is trying to get the meal ready, make sure the house is clean, and try to make sure everyone has everything that they need. Sound familiar? She sees Mary just sitting at Jesus’ feet, and finally, she can’t take it anymore! She walks up to Jesus and says, “Do something about this! She knows I’m working myself to the bone here! Make her get up and help me!”
Jesus tries to make her see that it’s better to not be caught up in the hamster wheel of life. He tries to invite her to drop all of it and come sit at His feet. Jesus offers us the same invitation today. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer. 6:16.] For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified Version