Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Come and Rest

laundry 2 To every toiling, heavy-laden sinner, Jesus says, “Come to me and rest.”  But there are many toiling, heavy-laden believers, too.  For them this same invitation is meant.  It is not, “Go, labor on,” as perhaps you imagine.  On the contrary, it is stop, turn back, “Come to me and rest.”  Never, never did Christ send a heavy laden one to work; never, never did He send a hungry one, a weary one, a sick or sorrowing one, away on any service.  For such the Bible only says, “Come, come, come.”

Hudson Taylor

I recently had the privilege of reading Jennifer’s wonderful post about the Sabbath on the Reformed Sheology website, and it spoke to my heart in a very relevant way.  Go ahead on over and read it, and then come back here, okay?  I’ll wait for you.

You’re back?  Good. 

I loved the way Jennifer said,

“We often only consider [the Sabbath] question in terms of two choices: Saturday or Sunday. But I believe there is a third option, one that we almost never even consider, because we are too busy focusing on the wrong thing. You see, I believe God changed the Sabbath from a day to a Person. That's right: God changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Jesus Christ.” (Col. 2:16-17)

Christ is our rest!

While Jennifer focused on “resting” in Christ as it relates to our salvation, I felt it more deeply as it relates to our daily walk.  You see, while I have grappled with many deep theological issues, and I have come to a richer faith in my mind, my heart is still playing catch-up.  And though it has come a long way, it still knows far too little rest. 

I worry.

I fuss.

I fret.

I fume.

And what’s more, I feel proud of those things.  Not consciously, of course.  But when I start to try to rest in Christ, I immediately accuse myself of being irresponsible and lackadaisical.  And that must mean that I consider all of my worrying and fretting and fuming to be responsible behavior.

Can you see me?  I’m clunking the heel of my hand against my forehead.  DUH!

Jesus promised that those who come to Him would find rest (Matt. 11:28).  He told us not to worry, because our worrying is faithless and futile (Matt. 6:25-34).  I’ve known those verses since I was a little girl.

I’ve known them in my head, that is.  But like the men on the road to Emmaus, I am foolish and slow of heart (Luke 24:25).

It’s beginning to dawn on me that, not only am I commanded to stop worrying, but I’m given permission to be at rest!

That’s a cool thought, because I tend to “stress out” about commands, even the command to stop worrying!  But permission to be at rest…that sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

It’s okay, Betsy,” my Father reassures me.  “I can run the universe without your help.”

My heart balks.  “But Lord, You have work for me to do, I know it!  I can’t just spend the rest of my earthly life on spiritual vacation, can I?”

“No,” He reminds me.  “I gave you a light and easy yoke, not a light and easy beach umbrella.  Yokes are for working.  But it’s My yoke.  I bear most of the weight.  And if you want to have the strength to carry your end, you’ll need to have My joy for your strength (Neh. 8:10).  Come to Me, take My yoke, and I will give you rest!” 

Wow.  I may have heard this sort of thing before, but it never sank in.  It couldn’t sink in, because I heard it as a call to frivolity.

The funny thing is, I tend to do far too little work!  I fear frivolity…and yet I engage in far too much of it.  Why?  Because the yoke I’ve been contemplating has not been easy, nor has the burden looked light. 

I know I need to take life’s responsibilities seriously, and I do so in the form of reading and writing and studying.  But in the actual business of physical working, while I know I need to be serious, I usually back away.  What with chronic back pain and generally low physical stamina, all physical work is daunting.  And when “I need to” meets “I can’t,” or even “I don’t think I can,” the result is paralysis.  And escapism. 

But though my physical problems are real and have an impact, most of my burden is not physical.  Most of it is mental and emotional.  And that’s a burden I’m not supposed to be carrying (Ps. 55:22).

If I had the Sabbath in my heart…the restfulness of God’s Spirit (Ps. 37:7), the joy of the Lord (Php. 4:4), the peace of God which is to rule in our hearts (Col. 3:15) and which surpasses understanding (Php. 4:7)…if I had all of those things, how much more readily could I face the demands of life?  How many of them could I actually meet?

I need more of that kind of Sabbath!

Can any of you out there relate?

(John Piper preached a wonderful sermon called, “Are You Humble Enough To Be Carefree?”  It shows clearly how much pride factors in to our insistence on worrying.  I hope you’ll check it out.)


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Ed said...

Thanks Betsy. Sometimes (often?) it seems like such a long way from the mind to the heart. A good reminder that Jesus is 24/7.

Esthermay said...

Thank you, but why didn't you just put it in an e-mail to me privately?
I often realize that --yes, I too -- I have come to a richer faith in my head and my gift of teaching has a hey-day! But my heart is still playing catch-up.

This was very good!

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