By Nikki Benson, reprinted from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.
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 (NIVUK)
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)
The very first Bible passage I ever learned by heart was Matthew 11:28-30, in which Jesus describes an apprenticeship into his rest. Hand-over-hand assistance. Walking alongside him. For my sake and for the sake of the world he so loves.
No striving under soul-destroying religious burdens. Just remaining peacefully, right where you already are.
Rest. Who doesn’t long for rest?
I had one of those rare and beautiful days at work yesterday, where every issue that was weighing me down seemed to resolve itself or evaporate in one 9-5 dream run…
A less than inspired decision I made was picked up by someone more senior and put right without loss of face. A failure to communicate a significant piece of information to “all relevant parties” was forgiven. A task I frankly didn’t want to do was completed and finally off my desk.
I’m not really sure why this happens occasionally and not at other times. It’s not for lack of “bringing it to God in prayer” or trying to do a good job. I am human. It’s frustrating to not be able to still the inner whirrings of worry that I have failed in this or that task.
And then there’s the guilt that this, too, is a failure. A failure to have enough faith to overcome anxiety; a failure to “know who I am in Christ”; a failure to put all things into their true perspective.
Nonetheless, as I travelled home, I was thankful. Thankful to feel weightless. Thankful for a moment of clarity. Thankful that every failure is covered in Christ. More than that, I was thankful that he would be with me there in the minutiae that has me doing inner cartwheels, knowing that one day the weightlessness will last. That will be no small gift.
It left me asking, “Lord, how can I keep in step with your unforced rhythms of grace?” Not just for my own sake. But how can I, who barely grasps the rest you offer, gift it to my clients and colleagues?
This week in my work, I have written out Eugene Peterson’s beautiful paraphrase of Matthew 11:28 from The Message. I read it in the quiet, between each appointment. It’s reassuring that Christ is with me, teaching and training me in his steady ways. I’m praying that he gives me his rest, both for my sake, and also for the sake of every person I meet who hungers for the same. Would you join me?