Read Matthew 11
How hard it seems for us to find rest in our fast-paced age of progress. Nurses work eight or even twelve-hour shifts and realize at the end of it that they did not have time for a bathroom break. Executives in growing companies who work eighty hours weeks at the office only to bring home more work for the few hours they should spend with their family. Stress begins to manifest in a plethora of mysterious physical and emotional symptoms that defy medical diagnosis.
It is not that we should not work hard or even long hours. My father was a farmer, and I remember well the hours that he would put in working to keep the farm from going bankrupt. I sure there were weeks when he had his forty-hour week in by Wednesday. It was not that my father never experienced stress either. I am certain that there were nights when he lost sleep wondering how or if he would be able to make the next mortgage payment, however, I also remember him taking time to rest. Even during haying season, there was always time for a fifteen-minute nap after lunch. He also took Sundays as a day of rest. I could probably count the Sunday’s that we spent in the field on one hand, and all of them were either during harvest or planting season, and if we worked Sunday, we took the next rainy day off.
In today’s reading Jesus invites His followers to find rest in Him. He says,
Come unto 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. (v. 28-29)
This is not a call to refrain from hard physical work, nor is it an excuse for slothfulness. Jesus simply invites us to take time to look to Him for rest for our souls.
Jesus also showed us how to do this by his example. Whenever He had a big day ahead (which for him was most days) He would begin the day, or in some cases end the day by spending time alone with God, His Father. It was only as Jesus aligned His own will with the will of the Father that He could face the incredible stress of literally bearing the weight of the sin of the entire world on His own shoulders.
It is this peace and rest that He offers us, if we are willing to find it in Him.