“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 (NIV2011)
The most illusive of the Big Five to see on a safari, guides tell us, is the leopard. Many will travel all the way to the African Serengeti and miss seeing it. In our soul safari the most illusive of the Big Five our souls seek is rest. The great philosopher, St. Augustine of Hippo wrote this in his Confessions: “You formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.” Have you felt that restlessness in your soul? The problem is that when we feel restless, we try to compensate with more activity and our soul never finds rest!
Real rest, the kind of rest God designed for us to experience, will satisfy the longing of our souls. This rest is only found in the One who Created us. Like seeking purpose to find out why we were made and what God created us to do, we ask the One who made us. The same is true of rest.
When Jesus walked this earth in His humanity, He connected with the restlessness of those around Him and offered this Divine invitation to experience rest. It was a two-fold invitation to rest. The first is a rest that is received and the second is a rest that is learned. Look at the promise again in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV): Jesus said, “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.”
Did you notice? Jesus said if you want to experience the rest your soul needs, you must come to Me … and I will give you rest. When I come to Christ, I receive rest! I experience His rest, peace with God! My soul no longer strives to be accepted. I find in Him peace with God and forgiveness of sin, freely given, because of what He did in my behalf on the cross. That’s the first rest.
But there’s another rest mentioned in this passage. It’s a rest that is found. Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me … and you will find rest for your souls.” This rest is the peace of God that passes all understanding as I learn from Him the rhythms of grace and how-to walk-in rest and serve in rest. That sounds strange doesn’t it? The point here is that rest isn’t inactivity. Rest is His activity clothed with our flesh and blood in our union with Christ.
When we come to Christ, we are given rest and when we learn from Christ daily, we find rest in the midst of all our activity. We begin to share that life with Jesus, here on earth, that we will share with Him for all eternity! It’s a life of rest! It’s not about religion and all that we do that brings rest to our souls.
I love the way the Message paraphrases this passage as Jesus spoke to so many under the heavy burden of the religious leaders in His day. It 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.”
This week in our soul safari we’re going to spend some time each day on our knees as we begin and end each day seeking the most illusive of the Big Five that our soul seeks so that we can learn to experience the rest Jesus promised. By the end of the week, we will learn the rhythms of grace that will bring rest to our souls. Are you ready to begin? Ready – Set – Rest!