What is your understanding of rest and relaxation? Steph Beth Nickel shares perspective on rest according to Jesus.
Would you like someone to pray with you? Contact us here
As I write this, I am officially on holidays. Although I have a very full day ahead of me, getting things done around the house, primarily in my home office, I look forward to a couple of weeks of rest and relaxation. As I finish up this devotional, I am approximately eight-and-a-half hours away from taking off for Alberta.
Rest According to Jesus
While I am thrilled for this opportunity to visit the Rockies with my husband of almost 35 years—and know he and this trip are gifts from God—this is not the kind of rest the Lord is referring to in Matthew 11. This is a more amazing type of rest, one that we can enjoy while on vacation or in the midst of our busiest, most demanding day.
In verses 28-30 of Matthew 11, Jesus says,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (ESV).
If we come to Jesus and accept the gift of salvation He purchased, it’s highly unlikely He will remove all the people and circumstances from our life that we find burdensome and exhausting. However, we can discover a peace that overshadows even the most challenging task or individual.
Peace Beyond Our Understanding
There is a dear senior saint in our congregation who will likely go home to be with the Lord before I return from holidays. Although I haven’t gone to see him in hospital, our pastor has—several times. And his report? That Harry never fails to be an encouragement. He has a big smile on his face and reassures everyone that he is ready to enter eternity. Even his wife and daughter shared this with me recently. That’s the kind of peace that surpasses human understanding.
And that same peace is what will see his family and friends through the challenging days ahead.
Although the verses in Matthew 11 read as a wondrous invitation—and they are—there are actually three commands in the passage. We are to come to Jesus. We are to take His yoke upon us. And we are to learn from Him. These are not suggestions. These are imperatives.
We must come to Him, originally for salvation and then day by day for comfort, guidance, direction, etc. We will not experience His ongoing gift of true peace and rest if we neglect our time with Him and our fellowship with other believers.
Second we are to take His yoke upon us. Remember what Jesus says in Luke 9:23:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (ESV).
In human terms, we think of rest as a break from our routine, possibly to sleep in, sit on the beach, and read a book. While all of these may, in one way, be restful, they have little, if anything, to do with taking up our cross.
As we learn what the Lord would have us do with our life, and we willingly lay aside our own agenda, we will experience a rest that makes vacationing seem insignificant by comparison.
The last command the Lord gives in this passage is the directive to learn from Him. And that will take a lifetime.
How do we learn from Jesus? We study the gospels. John is my personal favourite.
Next, we must prayerfully ask the Lord to show us how Jesus’s example translates into our own life.
We must seek to live according to His example and instruction. This won’t happen in our own strength. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the desire to do so—and the insight as to how to follow the Saviour’s example.
We ask for forgiveness when we fail to do so. As believers in Jesus, we can rest assured that He has already forgiven us. Talk about a cause for peace!
Whether we’re on vacation or in the midst of our busiest time of the year, these pursuits are crucial.
A life of godly rest may or may not include a vacation in the mountains. It will, however, include sacrifice, denying oneself, and hard work. But even more than that, it will mean partnering with the Lord Himself, walking side by side with Him, and finding deep soul rest because of His grace.
Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance writer and editor. She is the coauthor of Paralympian Deb Willows’ award-winning memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books.
Steph is a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and The Word Guild. She and her husband of over 30 years live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.
Steph’s goal is to nurture and inspire. She blogs at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests. She also guest posts regularly on the topics of Christian living, writing, and fitness. You can visit her website, stephbethnickel.com, to learn more about her.
If you have enjoyed reading this post and wish to send us a comment or share a prayer request, please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know.
Images Courtesy Of:
Alberta – jameswheeler
Road – PublicCo
Yoke – skeeze
Couple – Pasja1000