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Sunday, September 27, 2020

the refusal to rest

“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 have a sneaking suspicion that the reason we do not experience the rest that Jesus offers is because we simply refuse to do so.  I don’t know, maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s need, maybe it’s control, or maybe it’s all of the above, but for some reason we consistently refuse the rest that God calls us to. 

Just look at the scriptures.  “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’” (Isaiah 30:15) Or, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16) Or, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11)

But why on earth would we refuse to enter into God’s rest?  I think Matthew 11:28-30 holds a bit of a clue.  In order to enter into God’s rest we must first come to him, which few of us seem to have a problem with, and then we must take his yoke upon us, which is much more difficult.  That’s because we can’t take on his yoke, until we have taken off our own, whatever it may be.  That seems to be where the refusal comes in, we are simply unwilling to take off our own yoke in order to take on the light and free and well-fitting yoke of Jesus.  Therefore, we are forever burdened and weary and exhausted from continually trying to do it ourselves.

Basically it all comes down to trust.  Do we really trust that God is enough for us, and that he will give us everything we need?  Love, affirmation, significance, security, etc.  And do we really believe that God is wise enough and loving enough and powerful enough to take care of things without us?  Or maybe that’s the issue, maybe we are terrified that he will.  Who knows?

Whatever the case, each of us must face our own resistance to God’s rest, as well as our refusal to enter into it.  And after we face it, we must name it.  Then we must repent of it.  We must be willing to take off our own yoke and take on his.  Otherwise, we will never experience the rest and the peace and the wholeness he created us for.

Lord Jesus, why on earth would I every refuse to enter into your rest?  Yet I do.  Maybe it is because I’m so afraid of what will happen if I stop.  But my real fear, I suppose, should be what will happen if I don’t.  Lord, have mercy.  Amen.


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