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)
I don't know about you, but the very sound of these words does something deep within me. They make something come to life, something stand on tip toe, something leap within my soul. I guess it is because my soul longs deeply for true rest. The word used here for rest is anapauo, which means to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength. How's that for a definition?
Our souls also long to be filled. Therefore, our lives are one long movement in the direction of pursuing our deepest longings. The problem is that we stop too soon--too near the top. When we taste something that tastes good to our soul, we assume that that is what our soul was made to be filled with. And so there we go, charging off in the direction of that person or that thing, trying to extract something from them that they were never intended (or able) to fully give us. C. S. Lewis said it so well: The books or the music
in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them;
it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was
longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of
what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn
into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the
thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo
of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. (Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis) In other words, the deepest, most wonderful things of this life were never intended to fully satisfy us, but to point us forward...to God.
We also stop too soon in our definition of rest. Most often, when we hear the word rest, we think of bodily rest; and rightly so because that is a significant part of the picture. Bodily rest is important and affects everything else about us. But it is, however, only a small part of a much larger picture. For the rest that Jesus is talking about here is much deeper. Jesus is offering us soul rest. Our soul is the deepest part of us. It is our essence, who we really are inside, our innermost being. And it was made to be filled and brought to life by God and God alone: And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7) That is the part of us to which Jesus is offering rest. Deep soul rest that gives us the freedom from running around desperately trying to have our longings met by people and things that were never intended to meet (fully) those deepest longings.
So when he says to us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened," he is offering us an invitation to leave behind all of the ways we are trying to perform (weary), and let go of the heavy load of trying to achieve (burdened). To stop chasing recognition and affirmation and connection and security, from anyone and anything under the sun, and turn to him. He is inviting us to take up his yoke. He is inviting us to have all of the deepest longings of our hearts and souls met in him; with no more running, or posturing, or jockeying. That is what will give us real soul rest. So come...