I went to a writers’ conference last April and learned something about health and fitness. Crazy, huh? The speaker used an aerobics metaphor to make her point: Measure your resting heart rate before beginning a workout and then at the height of activity. When you’re ready to cool down, measure heart rate again, and time how long it takes to return to resting. This measurement is an indicator of your heart health.
Why was a writer talking about aerobics at a Christian writing conference? To make this unforgettable point:
When I deny my heart rest, I deny its true home.
Our Heart’s True Home
Our hearts desire rest. They were created for rest. In fact, the very next thing God did after creating mankind was rest!
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day…By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Genesis 1:27,31; 2:1
We know God wasn’t tired on that seventh day, so why did He rest? We talked in a previous blog post about his possible motivation of satisfaction. Our God was satisfied, so He rested, and satisfaction is the thing that can reign over our Sabbath celebrations each week. But today I want to explore the journey toward rest and the destination.
Resting With the Creator
Imagine that first day after Creation. Everything pristine and new. Man and woman walking on two legs, watching animals walk on four and insects on eight. Can you imagine God’s delight in each new discovery they make? Every taste, sight, smell, touch, and sound?
Can you imagine man and woman’s delight in every new revelation of their Creator? His provision. His love. His forethought. His sufficiency.
No distractions. An intimacy so deep, it speaks without words. A peace so profound, it penetrates flesh and soaks into spirit.
Do You Want It?
I want it. I want that kind of intimacy with God, that kind of peace. Don’t you? Jesus said we could have it.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
So…what’s a yoke? ‘Cause it looks like His yoke is part of the deal, right? If we are to find rest for our weary and burdened souls, He asks us to do two things:
- Take His yoke upon us (which is easy, and His burden is light).
- Learn from Him (to be gentle and humble).
So again…what’s a yoke?
Yoke’s On You!
When I read a favorite passage of Scripture, I like to read its context—chapters before and after it—to be sure I get the full picture. This comforting little “rest” promise from Jesus follows a grueling passage where John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He’s really the Messiah. Jesus then denounces doubt in many towns where He’s done miracles, and in the following chapter, Jesus is persecuted for plucking a few heads of grain (and eating them) on the Sabbath.
Not a very restful snapshot of our Savior’s life, eh? Come to think of it, Jesus didn’t have many restful moments on this earth.
Hmmmmm. Sound like your life?
I gain even more comfort from Jesus’ promise of rest BECAUSE He offers it in the midst of such craziness. The rest Jesus offers isn’t circumstantial it’s supernatural. And remember, our hearts were created to go there.
So, how did Jesus rest in the midst of His circumstances? Maybe that’s the key to finding out about this yoke thing…
It’s All About Learning
I remember being amazed the first time I realized Jesus actually learned while on earth. How could God learn? He learned because He was also fully Man. I don’t claim to understand all that entails, but God’s Word says Jesus learned, so I believe it:
“Although he was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered.” Hebrews 5:8
If Jesus learned obedience from suffering, shouldn’t I try to view all my trials, all my hardship, all my life-woes as lessons in obedience from my loving Heavenly Father?
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” Hebrews 12:7
But it’s not just about WHAT I learn. It’s about HOW I learn it. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 11:29:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (emphasis added)
It’s that gentle and humble learning that gets me every time! I tend to kick and scream…
And there, my friends, is the impediment to my rest. True rest comes only when we submit with a gentle and humble heart to God’s loving discipline.
Scripture doesn’t say all hardship IS discipline; however, it says we should endure it—treat it—as discipline. To me, true rest means bearing the yoke of sonship with a gentle and humble heart, trusting completely in God’s love.
- When I deny my heart rest, I deny its true home.
- The rest Jesus offers is not circumstantial; it is supernatural.
- Obedience is not just about WHAT I learn. It is about HOW I learn it.
- What practical steps can you take toward resting like Jesus did?