I sit with the Bible laid open on the breakfast table, and this is all I want to eat: These red letters on gold-lined pages.
I don’t remember being this famished in a long time, and it’s not like I needed to go starving myself, because these words were always right here in leather-bound casing. They don’t sour like expired milk. Preserved words have no expiration date.
They are ancient, but always good. They are unchanging, but satisfy through the ages.
I zip open the leather, turn to Matthew 11. I chew slowly, savor words.
I’m only two verses in, and already, the noise of days interrupts this meal. It’s the telephone.
I answer it on the fourth ring. The crop-insurance adjuster is looking for my favorite farmer and wants to check up on the hail damage. And did we get much rain last night? I handle the call in 42 seconds flat then get back to the table, bathed in morning light.
But by verse seven, I’m interrupted again. It’s not the phone this time. It’s the noise of the mind. I’m stacking up the lists, remembering undone to-dos. The mind roils on overdrive with the big news from a friend, and a major transition in our church, and the things I’ve failed to do that I promised would get done by this day.
It stacks up like a rain cloud, and pretty soon, I’m going places I shouldn’t go in my mind — where worry and self-accusing voices blur lines between truth and lies.
It’s been one of those months, where rest is elusive and noise rattles within. I could have come to the One who’s willing to carry my burden. But somehow, maybe, I get to thinking I can carry burdens better on my own?
Last week, I told Lyla of A Different Story that I was adopting her seven-day Bible study plan — taking a chapter and rereading that same chapter all seven days of a week. I unzipped the Bible that first day, and it fell open to Matthew 11. In its closing verses, the red letters invite:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
But here’s the trouble: I have failed miserably.
It’s the seventh day, and only the third time I’ve read my verses.
The accuser mocks: “Can’t you even get THIS right?”
I drop my forehead right into my meal of words, and the rain cloud splits open. Tears roll. I think about how I’d planned to post something on my blog today about rest. Yes, I wanted to share a list, perhaps — a few bullet points and maybe some tips, and I’d title it all neatly under “Five Easy Steps To Finding True Rest.”
But I’d be a liar.
I’ve been a bundle of worry. And true rest isn’t always easy.
A friend asked me in a text yesterday: What’s wrong?
My thumbs pressed a keyed response: “Not centered on Christ. Too self-absorbed.”
And she responded: “Pretty clear-cut.”
And she was right.
But she and I know the same clear-cut God: this God who is the King of Do-Overs. He’s the Lord of second chances, and third chances and 561st chances.
The Lifter of the Head lifts mine from the breakfast table, and I keep reading through the rest of a chapter that ends in Rest.
I ask His help for me to stay focused, to get me to the Rest.
I follow the words, digesting them, and I come to the end of the chapter.
They are the words that satisfy this longing. And I underline His red with my green. Why had I never underlined these words before?
“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
I begin dropping burdens, right there at the breakfast table. Then, I rise from the table to clear the scraps of worry, toss them in the trash. He brushes crumbs away.
I pick up my yoke — the yoke He’s named Easy. And I get to work. Because rest isn’t about inactivity. It’s about keeping a mind stayed on thee: the Middle C.
No, rest is not freedom from work and toil. It is not the end of labor.
True rest is an inner sanctuary where I find peace in the toil, and where I find spiritual meaning to the tasks and to-dos.
Today, kind friends, I don’t have a five-point list on the how-to of rest.
But I do have Him.
Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp in her Walk With Him Wednesday series of posts. This week she asks us to consider how we rest. Hers is a post worthy of your time today. Just reading her Jesus-words brings rest.