Good morning! I am happy to be here with you today. Grab your coffee and let’s chat a bit about rest for our souls.
We just had a weekend but how many of you are still tired? I don’t mean the kind of tired where you didn’t get enough sleep, but the tired deep down in your soul, the weariness that never seems to go away…perhaps even a feeling of hopelessness? Let’s talk about that for just a few minutes. “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.” (Matthew 11:29 NASB)
Rest for our souls. Doesn’t that sound inviting? It is so easy to become bogged down with all the things we carry in our souls. In fact, Matthew 11:28, says, “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” I have often thought this verse was referring to being tired from physical work, but there is more to it and that is what I want to share with you today.
At the time Jesus uttered these words, He was desperately trying to show the people of Israel why He had come. He knew that the people were carrying heavy loads of ‘work’ oriented religion. The commentary I read said that the “rabbinical requirements were so many that an ordinary lifetime was too short to learn them all.” Now how discouraging is that? Sadly, most of the people either gave up or became rigid in trying to follow all the rules that would supposedly bring them salvation. I am sure they, like us, became good at pointing fingers to all who weren’t following the rules, and yet deep inside, carried the stress of knowing they couldn’t possibly do them either.
Jesus’ way is not our way. What does He mean when He says, ‘take my yoke upon you’? A yoke, as we know, is what goes around the neck of animals when they are pulling a wagon. At first glance, this imagery can seem negative. It seems something like that would be binding, and if the two animals pulled in different directions, it would make for a difficult situation. Again, we need to look a little deeper.
A yoke is used to ease the load so neither animal bears the weight alone. When we allow His yoke to be on us, we are joined with Him.
There is even more significance to this verse and this is what is exciting to me. The verse says ‘learn from Me.’ When we have chosen to take the yoke and join in working with Him, we have the opportunity to learn new ways of life. We may still walk along paths that are difficult; remember Jesus also tells us “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). However, learning His ways gives us the chance to learn better responses to the troubles life throws at us. And that, my friends, is where the rest for our souls lies.
I find this encouraging. I want that rest. I’ve looked for it all my life. I am great at ‘reacting’ to the problems life throws at me. That rarely results in peace. Jesus is teaching me how to respond, WITH Him…and I am here to tell you, it is worth it. I still mess up, often. But the beauty is, He’s right there, gently pulling me back on the right path!