“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
If you can believe it, we’re already at the end of August. Summer just seems to fly by, doesn’t it? As this month ends, our minds go to many different places but many people have the same goal: to get in those last few days of relaxation before the activities of fall and winter fill our schedules again.
Truth be told, since graduating I have rarely found summer as relaxing as I did when I was a kid. But nevertheless summer is the season of relaxation. Vacations, beach days, long walks, family get-togethers—all these fall in the all-too-brief months of summer. So, as summer comes to a close, we try to cling to those moments of relaxation and rest before they go away. But how do we rest? Sometimes in our crazy schedules it’s hard to define what “rest” truly means. One counseling center called “Artful Life” in Massachusetts suggests nine ways in which people can find rest. They are as follows:
- Getting time away
- Permission to not be helpful
- Doing something “unproductive”
- Connection to art and natures
- Solitude to recharge
- Getting a break from responsibility
- Stillness/time to decompress
- Finding a safe space
- Having alone time at home
I’m sure many of us have found rest in one or many of these ways. But of course, as a pastor, I feel the need to add number 10: Coming to Christ. We do this by coming to worship, reading our Bibles, and spending time in devotion and in prayer. Unfortunately, most of these activities are considered “chores.” They “butt-in” to the things that we really want to do, like the nine things listed above. But to those who doubt the rest that comes from Christ, I direct you to Matthew, chapter 11. As Jesus prays to the Father, He offers these wonderful verses: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
Rest for the soul—it’s something only Christ can offer. Through careful planning we can juggle our frantic schedules, but no amount of work can settle the frantic soul. Our souls yearn for peace and rest, yet in this world of sin they find only trial and hardship. The nine types of rest above might provide temporary reprieve, but in the end they will give way to the same turmoil as before.
But Christ offers a rest that is sufficient for our whole lives. In Christ our souls can rest because in Him we are granted forgiveness for our sins. He invites us to take all the sins and struggles that weigh us down and lay them on Him. He takes our burden for Himself; indeed, He did this when He strode willingly to the cross and died for our sins. And when He rose from the dead, Jesus showed us firsthand the greatest promise all children of God will receive: life eternal in the glory of God, our heavenly Father.
As we seek our rest in the waning moments of summer, and even as we seek rest throughout the school year, let us always remember to rest in Jesus by coming to Him in worship and devotion. Experience the peace that God alone offers through the all-sufficient sacrifice of His Son on the cross!
Photo courtesy of Elisa Schulz Photography