Yes, There Really is Rest for the Weary.
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.
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Its funny how I was feeling the exact same way this morning..overwhelmed (in my mind). Thinking of how I am falling behind in everything–thanks for this.
I love how you said true rest is not freedom from work…many times we think we just have to sit and do nothing in order to be at peace.
As long as we focus on HIM in the midst of it all- we can find it in the most unexpected places.
Oh Jennifer, how this moved my spirit in a beautiful way! I needed to read your words today! I'm going to try the 7 day bible reading. I actually love that idea!
¡Me dió mucho gusto verte en mi blog! (y tu español es muy bueno)
And yes…having Him is the only way we can truly find rest…I also did what Lyla encouraged us to do, and yes…I found rest in Him!
Under His sun, by His Grace.
jennifer, i love the truth that His words do not expire. that is just so simple but oh, so profound. praise You JESUS! Your Word is the same today and forever.
you bless me repeatedly sweet friend,
It's a beautiful mystery how ancient words can be so alive and refreshing. Like so many other things, rest is a gift we receive from our God. He is the source. There may not be 5 easy steps, but all it takes is one real step of surrender… Thanks for sharing both the struggle and the rest today. It's all appreciated, Jennifer…
Look I wrote the list for you:
So very true…there is no way to do rest truly…only Who to go to for that rest! I just launched an online bible study on "rest" on my blog so it's a blessing to read your persepctive on resting in Him!
I love that scripture from Matthew 11. Great moments of rest are in those quiet periods in the day when we open the great book and receive a fresh breath of life, once more.
I struggle to get "rest" right, too. Perhaps the fact that I "struggle" is a bad sign in and of itself. ha. I need to let go and simply rest in Him. Sometimes I do; many times I don't. May He bless you and all of us as we try to understand how perfect his rest is.
So true! Thank you for your post!
My heart is always full after a visit here…you articulate what consumes my mind…thank you, thank you, for being obedient to the Lord!
How did you know, Jennifer? How did you know that these are the very words I needed to read?
The past couple of days have brought great turmoil. Sort of feels like you were talking about me in this post.
Thank you for sharing your heart and His promises.
Thanks for reminding me to focus on HIM in the midst of it all.
Psalm 121 has been my go-to psalm this summer.
When I start to feel way behind and stressed and crazy, I say these verses.
I especially love verses 7-8:
"The LORD will keep you from all harm–
He will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
With this kind of assurance and protection, we can rest a little bit easier.
I am learning that rest isn't inactivity .
this was perfect
and my wv is weeding.
Sending a hug your way…Psalm 103 in the Amplified has a verse that says He imprints on His heart that we are dust…what a kind God He is, to tatoo His great heart with our weakness, as if to remind Himself how much grace we need.
Jennifer, What a wonderful post! We cannot live without God's Word, can we? Well, we can but not very well.
It offers everything we need. It is alive and powerful. Living matter of the eternal kind. It works in us exactly what we need. We just have to put it within us for it to work!
Whether we need to be invigorated or need rest, the Word of Life will produce it. And we carry it with us throughout the day.
I love reading your posts! Thank you! Be blessed!
Hola, chamiga. Escribiste a Becky en español? Que barbaro! Yo voy a su lugar para mirar…
Hey you already know what I think of this post. And your miserable failure. But I think other people need to know too — your miserable failure was anything but. It set you down smack in the middle of where we find true rest.
There are no five steps to finding true rest. There's only one.
You took that step not long before you wrote this post.
My broken record: People who don't get tired don't get rest. People who don't need mercy don't get mercy.
Love to you.
And if you have him, that's all you really need. Beautiful post.
I've never read a book, a list, an article that ever helped me find the kind of rest I get when I'm resting in His arms. This was honest and true–emotions, thoughts I can relate to. Thank you for that.
matt 11:28-30 was/is my vs of the year: "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."
unforced rhythms of grace? live freely and lightly? recover life? yes, I'll take all three please! walk with Jesus and work with Him…keeping company with Him brings peace I have so long craved!
Thank you for clarifying some thoughts I've been struggling with regarding rest, purpose, and bearing my yoke. I am so glad I happened upon these words of yours today. Just a few hours ago I got the official news that, yes, I still have cancer. Words I refused to speak out loud until now, lest I give the enemy any power. We are struggling financially, yet spiritually and with all my being I believe I can be healed without conventional cancer treatments. The problem is that going the "natural" route costs money that we simply don't have. I've felt burdened to stay home for my children but now I'm feeling a new burden to help provide so that I can stay "alive" for them, too! I will be going to Matt. 7 with you today and renewing my confidence in his word. It is just too easy to walk away, you are right. Maybe we could somehow affix a bible to a string and wear it around our necks?! Blessings to you 🙂
I started to write my own comment & then read Leah's post. Am praying for you Leah. God will bear your burden.
Jennifer, thanks for the beauty of your authentic sharing. What can be better than a 5 point message on how to enter into His Rest but to read from your words what God himself is calling all of us to….Be Still and know that He is……….that is the comfort, that is the Rest.
Oh yes, those red letter words are precious food indeed.. there is none more sustaining!
Thank you for your post from your heart, beautifully expressed and so true for me too.
So easy but so hard….