“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)
Labor. Work, especially hard physical work. To work hard, make great effort.
Heavy laden. Burdened by cares. Weighted down with (or as if with) a heavy burden. Oppressed. Very tired or troubled.
Rest. Cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. Peace of mind or spirit. Free from anxiety or disturbance.
If you’re anything like me, you can identify with all three of these words every day. Working hard and laboring throughout the day, feeling overwhelmed and burdened in my head, and desiring rest. Oh, sweet rest.
Even though rest is the place I want to be, I probably end up in the heavy laden part the most. Very tired. Weighted down. Burdened.
Why? Why is this me when I know the truth, that Jesus wants to be with me and share the load, if not take it all Himself? I need His rest. Everything that defines rest – relax, refresh, recover, renew, remain – is exactly what I need. So how do I do that when nothing has let up? How do I find what seems to be ever-elusive amidst the noise of life?
Lift my eyes to Him instead of my immediate circumstances and the world around me. Jesus is the source of rest. Perfect rest. Complete rest. Trust him to repair and restore what you cannot.
As a dear friend used to tell me, “Let go and let God.” If I’m honest, that’s a lot harder than it should be. At this point in my walk with God, shouldn’t it be my first instinct to lift my eyes to Him when I’m feeling overwhelmed? Not yet. The strong, stubborn part of me pushes all the harder, not caring what it takes out of me or the effect it has on my family. It’s what we do, right? We get things done! We don’t ask for help! We exhaust ourselves with good, necessary things. Work hours, laundry, health concerns, chasing toddlers, teaching our kids, staying up with friends, volunteering at church, keeping the house clean, keeping the family fed, not to mention seasonal sports, activities, and longer daylight hours spent in the yard. These are all good things that can quickly flip to exhausting things if they’re not balanced with focused rest.
During this time of pause for the pandemic, some things have gone by the wayside. But it also has added more to the “heavy laden” list: isolation, stress of grocery shopping, staying home, political arguments, social media…and fear. Nothing is the same, even though life has to continue on. Jesus talked about being heavy laden like it’s something we all experience, like we all have something that’s oppressing us. Burdening us. Knowing that, I actually find some hope and comfort. Maybe even rest. Jesus doesn’t say, “Keep working harder – earn that rest!” No, He just says “Come to me.” It’s a process, but I’m on my way.