Posts tagged Rest
Resting While You Work
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I’ve always been a worker-bee. Well, perhaps not as a child. As an adult, though, and especially as a Christian, I’ve been a worker-bee. I found great pleasure in life by accomplishing a goal, but there was a driven-ness in this way of living. I’ve discovered that being a worker-bee is especially dangerous, spiritually. I’ve lived for a long time under the yoke of what I call "to-do list" Christianity. What a bondage. Self-effort doesn't work when it comes to doing what only God can do,which is anything of any spiritual value. That's why I love the Lord's invitation to the weary, burdened folk who followed Him:

 

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. Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

 

As we have seen in the previous blog post, Christ’s invitation in verse 28 is a call to find true rest in Him alone. And this rest is a gift (literally, “I will rest you.”) It’s the rest of spirit that is fixed and permanent, resulting from all that the Person and Work of Christ accomplished for us – total forgiveness, birth into the family of God, union with Christ, and much more. And this rest of spirit is mine when I respond to Jesus' gracious words, “Here to Me” (verse 28.)

But now the question is, how do I experience this rest in my soul every day of my life on this earth? How can rest be mine even in the midst of all the “doing what needs to be done?” How can anapausis, “the inner tranquility of soul while engaged in our necessary labors,” be mine right here, right now? I believe it’s all wrapped up in the image of the yoke.

But now the question is, how do I experience this rest in my soul every day of my life on this earth?

What is a yoke? A yoke is a bar or frame of wood that connects two animals together for a purpose or work of some kind. This was, and is, a common sight in the Middle East. Typically, a stronger animal is yoked to a weaker or more inexperienced one and so takes the lead. The two animals then work together to complete the same job. In addition to this use with animals, a master sometimes used a yoke to bind and control his slaves. Symbolically then, the yoke is a picture of yielding control to a master who is greater in power and authority, as well as being attached to one who is stronger and more skilled to accomplish a purpose together.

Jesus says I am to take on His yoke in order to find rest for my soul. My soul is my inner person – my mind, my emotions, and my will. This is where I often struggle and experience lack of peace and rest, but as I chose living from union with HIM above all other competing attachments, I experience the peace and rest of a loving Lord who lives through me in every situation I face.

However, the fact is there are other yokes pulling at me. These other attachments are often good things that end up becoming addictions, obsessions, dependencies, mini-gods exerting control over my life. Christine Wyrtzen, in her lovely website Daughters of Promise, names a few that women can become attached to, if we are not living by our indwelling Christ, yoked to Him above all else:

  • the yoke of religion and living by “others’ measuring stick” (like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day)

  • the yoke of slavery and living by “the demands of controllers”

  • the yoke of shame and living by “the opinions of flawed people”

  • the yoke of the flesh and living “like I did before I believed”

  • the yoke of deception and living by “lies conceived at the gates of darkness.”

One I might add would be the yoke of self-effort and living by my own ingenuity and type-A personality. As I take HIS yoke upon me, though, and as I yield to the loving Lord who lives within me, I experience what Major Ian Thomas calls the faith-rest life: “Christ is in action, and you in your humanity are simply the clothes of His divine activity. This is the rest of faith. It is your hands with which He is at work, your lips with which He is speaking, your eyes with which He sees the need, your ears with which He hears the cry, and your heart with which He loves the lost. (The Indwelling Life of Christ, p 99)

So dear sisters, “take His yoke upon you” today and live from His indwelling life, while you are preparing the next meal, running to that necessary appointment, reading the Scriptures, loving your husband, changing another diaper … You may find that, in whatever unfolds before you each day, you will experience Love beyond your love, Forgiveness beyond your forgiveness, Patience beyond your patience, Skill beyond your skill, Fullness beyond your fullness, Peace beyond your peace, and Rest beyond your rest. 

You may also discover that His yoke is easy, His burden is light, because you are united to Him and His yoke fits you perfectly.

 

“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.”
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

 

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Jan Loyd is a child of God, a disciple of Christ, a Jersey girl, a former nun, a teacher, and now a wife of 47 years, mother of two, grandmother of 5 boys and finally a baby girl...these are just some of the hats she wears or has worn. Her hat as teacher has seemed to be one she’s worn her entire adult life, ranging from elementary school, homeschool, adult ESOL and GED language and writing. But along with all of these opportunities has been her favorite above all the rest: teaching women the Word of God in various ways, Precept Upon Precept and Bible Studies she’s developed by the grace and tutelage of God along the way. Currently you may find her on her devotional blog “A Branch in the Vine” where she share several times a week and in her Bible Study/ devotional book The With-ness of our God: Relationship in Every Dimension.

An Invitation to Rest
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Ah! REST...what a glorious word! I inhale and exhale deeply at just the sound of it. And oh, how we humans need deep, glorious rest... Moms especially need it...as do dads. Single folks need it; workers need it; retirees do, too. Even kids need it (although they would protest most loudly...especially in the midst of the frenetic-ness of no-sleep sleepovers!)

I remember as a mom of an infant how I longed for rest, praying my crying-in-the-middle-of-the-night baby would just fall quietly back to dreamland. Or my napping toddler would stay napping so I could lie prostrate for just a few more moments (Please, God!) And now, even as a senior retired adult, that beautiful rest calls my name more often than not in the midst of my afternoons. So I often take to my overstuffed couch and doze as I watch the old westerns from my childhood.

I can’t help but think our craving for physical rest is really just a picture of the rest we need even more so for our souls and spirits. That’s why Christ’s invitation is so attractive. We see it here:

 

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. Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

 

Here in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus promises rest as a gift. This is not just the "take a nap" kind of rest, it goes much deeper. It’s anapausis (“rest” in Greek.) It’s “inner tranquility” even while “engaged in necessary labor.”

In our passage, we see Jesus teaching and preaching to a crowd of people in Galilee. Who were these people? Of course, the crowd would include His disciples, who were His learners. The religious leaders dogged His every step, so of course, they surely were part of this crowd. But in the previous verses, there is a hint at who Jesus’ real audience is. Listen to how He prayed just before His invitation:

 

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… Matthew 11:25-28 ESV

 

Jesus’ primary offer was to the common folk, like you and me - “ragamuffins,” as one author calls us. Not the “perfect people” who have it all together. No, it’s for those of us who know we don’t have it together. Maybe we keep on trying, we “weary ones” who work our religious “to do list” to exhaustion or the “heavy laden,” burdened by the failure of falling back into habits of sinful shame. The invitation is for all of us who know we need something we cannot produce. So we see and hear Jesus, with His beautiful “yes face,” call to us:

Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest …

Literally, it reads, “Here to Me, and I will rest you.”

Our Lord is pointing, as it were, to Himself as the Person who is the place of rest, in contrast to the Pharisees who were following Him and harassing the people with their “religious mega-list.”

we see and hear Jesus, with His beautiful “yes face,” call to us: Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest …

That little Greek word translated “to/toward” in this verse is like an arrow aimed in a certain direction. So here we have Jesus saying “I am your focus, not those Pharisees over there and their ‘religious to do list;’ not your own self-effort to be righteous and good, but ME! I am your Rest.” And this is the inner rest of spirit that Jesus gives as a totally free gift when we come to Him. “I will rest you!”

What is this rest of spirit Jesus gives as a gift? It’s the rest of union with Him (Colossians 3:3.) This is rest indeed! And it is fixed, permanent, unchanging. It includes total forgiveness of all our sins, past, present, and future (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17;) birth into God’s family as a beloved child of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2;) identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:4-14; Galatians 2:20.) It means Christ is living in me by His Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:17,19.) I have all of Him in all of me (Colossians 2:9-10.) And this is true the moment I respond to Christ’s invitation: “Here, to ME!” He rests me.

So there is no more working, no earning, no trying to be right in God’s eyes; no grasping for His love, no agonizing over getting more of Him and His Spirit. I have it all because I have HIM. It’s all about receiving HIM who is my promised Sabbath Rest.

So may I ask you, dear sister in Christ, are you resting in Him who is your Rest? Or are you still working, trying to achieve what you already have and who you already are in Him? If so, search out some of the Scriptures above and rest in Him who rests in you.

Next time we will explore the crucial question: How can I experience this rest relationship with Christ in my real daily life? How can I live from these truths?


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 Jan Loyd is a child of God, a disciple of Christ, a Jersey girl, a former nun, a teacher, and now a wife of 47 years, mother of two, grandmother of 5 boys and finally a baby girl...these are just some of the hats she wears or has worn. Her hat as teacher has seemed to be one she’s worn her entire adult life, ranging from elementary school, homeschool, adult ESOL and GED language and writing. But along with all of these opportunities has been her favorite above all the rest: teaching women the Word of God in various ways, Precept Upon Precept and Bible Studies she’s developed by the grace and tutelage of God along the way. Currently you may find her on her devotional blog “A Branch in the Vine” where she share several times a week and in her Bible Study/ devotional book The With-ness of our God: Relationship in Every Dimension.