Finding Rest

Are you desperate for rest?

You know. The kind of rest that lulls you to sleep at night.

Rest that shoos away the knots in your stomach and the wrinkles on your forehead.

Sustaining rest that doesn’t shatter when your circumstances change or when the path ahead is unclear.

The kind of rest that puts the smile on your face that you weren’t expecting.

I don’t know about you but I, for one, am just naturally wired pretty tight. This has benefits as well as challenges. I’ve had to be very deliberate about finding sustaining rest and uprooting what once were main-stays in my life…worry, anxiety and fear.

Finding rest ultimately comes down to surrender. But surrender isn’t just waiving the white flag and praying for rest. We have a part to play in it.

Let’s look at this familiar passage in Matthew:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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

I grew up not really understanding how to apply this passage. I thought if I just prayed sincerely for rest that it would just come. After all, Jesus said to come to Him and He would give us rest.

But in order to find sustaining rest, there are two things we need to do: 1. Trust Him, and, 2. Walk in His ways.

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Trusting Him

Can I say something that might sound shocking?

God’s not going to take the weight of the world off your shoulders.

You have to give it to Him. The Word says we are to cast our burdens upon the Lord. Psalm 55:22 says, Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you...” 

Notice that we are the ones who have to do the casting.

Another passage says, Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.” ~John 14:1

Can we really find rest if, after we pray, we continue to worry and fret about our circumstances? Has that burden really been lifted?

Isn’t it up to us whether or not we’re going to carry a burden?

We have free will. If I decide to pick up a brick and carry it around all day, I can do that even though the only consequence is that my arm is going to be awfully sore.

This is where trust comes in. When we come to Him, we have to trust that He is working in our behalf, so much so, that our rest is not dependent upon what’s happening in our lives or how a situation turns out.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” ~Isaiah 26:3

Walking in His Ways

But there’s another component to finding rest that takes intentionality as well.

Jesus says in verse 29 of Matthew 11 to Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…”

The yoke that Jesus is referring to is a wooden beam placed around the necks of two oxen to pull a load together. Jesus is saying that we are to take HIS yoke upon us and learn from Him.

In other words, we are to walk in His ways. And by walking in His ways, we find rest.

Can we find rest if we harbor resentment or bitterness?

Cam we find sustaining rest if we’re easily offended?

Can we find rest if our hearts are hardened by pride?

Can we find rest if we have habitual unrepentant sin in our lives?

In our fast-paced, grab and go society, we want to, well, quickly grab what we need and go. Move on to the next thing so we can get to the next, next thing. But we know it doesn't work that way with matters of the heart.

Hit the pause button on your life. Ask the Lord what areas in your life may be keeping you from finding rest. Real sustaining rest.

Pray from Psalm 139.

Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in m, And lead me in the everlasting way.” ~Psalm 139:23-24

He will be faithful not only to show you, but also to help you uproot anything that may be keeping you from finding rest.

The word “hurtful” there in the Hebrew means idol; also, pain and wicked.

Having hurtful or wicked ways and harboring idols in our hearts is a much harder way to live than walking in His ways. In fact, walking in His ways is how we find sustaining rest. That’s why Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:30

Grace in growing

Growing in deeper levels of trust and surrender is a life long process. No one arrives. And it doesn’t have to take decades of soul surgery to find rest.

In I Corinthians 15:31, Paul said, “…I die daily.” And Peter charges us to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in II Peter 3:18.

One of the things that make God so beautiful to me is how much grace He shows us in our weakness. I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll say something years ago that’s always stayed with me…

“Isn’t it beautiful how, when you do your part, God does the part that only He can do.” ~Chuck Swindoll

We press into Him, earnestly seek Him and His ways, and He does the heavy lifting. He’s the One who ultimately gives us rest.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” ~Matthew 11:28