Rest … Why Not Bother?

Matthew_1128cwScripture: Jesus said, "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 11:28-29, The MESSAGE).  Jesus said, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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, NRSV).

Also consider the following:

  • "Heaven and Earth were finished, down to the last detail. By
    the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested
    from all his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day
    because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had
    (Genesis 2:1-3, The MESSAGE).
  • This [resting in God, see Hebrews 4:1] is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua;
    otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for "today." The promise of "arrival" and "rest" is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience"
    (Hebrews 4:8-11, The MESSAGE).

While on retreat about six weeks ago these words "come unto me and I will give your rest" settled into my being in the midst of a time that did not feel anything like rest.  The word from God that stuck with me is that Jesus promises rest when we bear what God wants us to bear, not what I (or others) might deem important burderns to bear.  The rest that God promises is one that involves wearing a yoke as if we were a beast of burden, but not just any burden – only the God-burden.

I may be making a false distinction today between "Rest" and "the Sabbath" we discussed several weeks ago.  If I am, I pray for God’s forgiveness.  But I am struck that Jesus promises rest by taking on God’s burden for the world, while Sabbath was a reminder that God invited us to stop work.  In the competing versions of the Ten Commandments one reason to stop was to model God and the other was to not fall into the trap of a 400 hundred year of work without a vacation (see Eugene Peterson’s comments in Stop and Go – What Is Sabbath Anyway?).  When I discussed Sabbath I was talking about stopping before you worked a 400 hundred year work-week.  Today I am focusing on resting by sharing the God-burden with Jesus.

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