“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28
We all have those times we wish the voice of God would audibly speak so loudly there’s no way we could miss it: “This is the direction I want you to go.” Then we’d know whether to stay the course or head in a new direction.
Have you ever wished for this kind of certainty? I have.
Most of us want to know what to do. Without that confidence, sometimes we stay in a place too long. But the greater loss happens in those times we quit too soon. Then, we can live with this nagging sense of “what if?” What if I’d persevered one more year, one more month, one more day?
Knowing when to stop and when to keep on keeping on is a crucial life lesson. One I want to learn well. Often, the more I struggle on my own, the less confident I am with the right next step. It’s exhausting!
But the truth is, I don’t need to be confused or tired. There is one central place I can go for direction and rest. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus encourages us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
I used to get so frustrated with this verse because I thought, I don’t want rest. I want reassurance! I’m burdened by this decision I have to make. I don’t want to mess up by missing a cue from You, God.
But the rest Jesus offers is not a spiritual sleep aid. The Greek word for this kind of rest is anapauo, which has as one of its definitions, “of calm and patient expectation.”
In other words, Jesus is saying, If you come to Me, I will take your exhaustion and uncertainty and turn it into a calm expectation.
My friend Jennifer Rothschild does this enlightening exercise at some of her conferences. She tells the audience to imagine her writing two different words on a large chalkboard. She then speaks the letters as she draws the first word into the air . . . R-E-S-T.
She does the same for the second word . . . R-E-S-I-S-T. Then she asks what is the difference? The difference is, of course, “I.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“I can’t figure this out.”
“I’m worn out.”
“I’ve tried everything I know to do.”
“I’ve given all I have to give.”
I’m familiar with these “I” statements because I’ve said them myself. We can only find anapauo rest—fresh hope—as we stop running ragged and simply take on the next assignment Jesus gives.
In verse 29 of Matthew 11, Jesus gives us the assignment: to take on His yoke and learn from Him. Ask Jesus to show you how to rest in Him. It might mean sitting quietly, asking others to join you in prayer, or clearing your calendar to read the Word. Once you’re still, take the next step. Not ten steps. Not the whole path. Not the Google map with the highlighted route. Just the next step.
Complete that step with excellence and an open, humble heart. Listen and look for all Jesus wants to teach you in this next step.
This is your part of the equation.
But after the assignment comes the reassurance in verse 30, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We don’t have to have all the answers. We just have to stay connected to the One who does. Where our strength ends is the exact point where His will begins.
This is God’s part of the equation.
I must do all I can do. Then trust God will do what only He can do.
Should I stay? Should I go? Maybe the better question is, “God, what is the next step I’m to take today? I’m going to do my part. And trust the rest to You.”
Dear Lord, I am tired, and I can’t figure things out. Please help me see Your part in this equation. Where my strength ends is where Your will begins. Help me, Lord, to look to You for my very next step. I will wait in calm expectation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you ever feel like it’s hard to hear God’s voice about all the chaotic noise competing for your heart’s attention… the struggles, the worries, the hurts, the betrayals… I understand.
Sometimes we underestimate how much courage it takes to release our desire to fix it all and make the choice to fix our eyes on Jesus. That’s exactly why I pulled together a collection of devotions from my recent books, blogs and personal journal for my new book, Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close.
The devotional doesn’t release until March 27th, but if you pre-order your copy now you’ll receive free gifts including 14 days of devotions so you can start reading right away! Click here to get your copy of Embraced.
I’m also giving away 3 copies of Embraced today. To enter, leave a comment below telling me how you spend your quiet time with the Lord.