“This is going to be amazing!” I exclaimed as I grabbed my mug of hot chocolate and headed down the forever long staircase at my work. I had been craving the yummy treat all day and couldn’t wait to pour it down my throat when my thoughts were interrupted by my feet misjudging a step. I bounced my way down a flight of stairs, flinging my treasured prize as I went. When I pulled myself up off the ground I was met with visions of hot chocolate smeared from the walls to the ceiling. I had unknowingly created a masterpiece and I’m sure the bank I worked at still holds the stains of my embarrassing incident.
Sometimes my life feels a bit like my humiliating hot chocolate fiasco. I fixate on making myself comfortable a bit too much. My cravings demand to be satisfied and I cave in. My need for being indulged outweighs my commitment level and I lose sight of the things that really matter to me. The next thing I know I live in a chocolate covered world and I’ve got mysterious bruises. Sound familiar?
Which brings me to my next point, why do I need to be indulged? Why the need to constantly feel comforted? Stress, stress and more stress piles up on me like I’m a dirty clothes hamper. No matter how hard I try there is always some task I need to see to, some project to be completed and another hamper full of dirty clothes that need to be washed. Most days my schedule looks like a page from “The Amazing Race” script. Flying from one appointment to the next, scarfing down quick drive through meals and multiple cups of coffee are the norm. It’s no wonder that my muffin top has grown substantially over the last few years despite my daily 4:30 a.m. workouts. I tell myself, “Just get through this week and you can rest this weekend” but the weekend comes fully stocked with a list of errands and family events. Endlessly exhausted and perpetually busy.
I could sleep for weeks and not recover from the level of exhaustion I feel. But I lie to myself. I just need another cup of coffee or I’ll sleep late Saturday. Saturday comes and goes and despite the fact I slept in I’m still exhausted. Does it ever end? Will I ever get the rest I need?? Where is God in all of this? Oh yeah…I haven’t prayed or cracked my Bible in like four days. I was so busy I honestly forgot.
Is this really the life Jesus wanted me to have? I’m free but I’m a slave to my schedule and the endless appointments I feel bound to keep.
Jesus’ invitation of “Come to me and I will give you rest” sounds so enticing right now. I need rest…and not just a 2 hour nap on Sunday afternoon. I need a Sabbath day EXTENDED rest. I need a few minutes that I don’t have to think about all of the things I have to do and all of the people that need my help. I could run to hot chocolate but that won’t cure what’s ailing me. I just need a few minutes of uninterrupted time at the feet of Jesus. I feel like Martha but what I really need right now is a Mary encounter.
I need to drop everything else and just spend time with Him. He can give me what a 12 hour night of sleep cannot. What I long for and what I crave is His presence, I just don’t always realize it. I’m so quick to run to coffee, chocolate, sugar, whatever and neglect the real issue at hand.
Is that you as well? I love what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28:
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. (NASB)
Ah yes that’s what I need….SOUL rest. My soul is tired. But the only way I can strengthen my soul is to receive from God through my spirit. That’s the way it works. We communicate with God through our spirits, not our souls. We just don’t always take the time to create space for that communication. The price we pay for that is exhaustion and frustration.
The “yoke” that Jesus referred to here is something a slave would wear around his neck. This same word is used in a number of other verses in the new testament that reference slavery within the same verse. Jesus is saying that the yoke that He puts on us is not one of slavery, but an instrument that leads into rest for our souls. It’s a much different picture than what we had imagined in our heads. We always think God needs our service. But actually, He wants to give us rest from our labors. Rest from always trying to have it all together. Rest from saving the day. Rest from being supermom or dad every day of our lives.
I need someone to remove the yoke of slavery from my neck. Jesus can do that for me. He can do that for you too. We are hardwired for communion with our father from our birth and nothing can take the place of that. We were never meant to live separate from His presence. When we try to live apart from Him we fall apart. His life giving presence is the very fiber that holds us together. His words are the very breath of life to our weary bodies. He alone is able to give us the rest our souls long for and crave.