Monday, September 22, 2014

Finding Rest

"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)

This familiar passage of scripture is the basis of our devotional time for the coming week.  Many are aware of this offer of Christ yet few have taken Him up on it.  By and large, Americans don’t value rest and relaxation. On the contrary, we’ve made a virtue of unceasing labor; we brag about how busy we are, as if the hectic pace of our lives is proof that we’re important and significant. We feel guilty when we’re not working, and we’re suspicious of anyone else who removes their nose from the grindstone for too long.

Rest...It’s a word we hear often enough, but do we really understand its importance in our lives?  When we read through the Gospels we notice the relaxed, calm pace Jesus kept from day to day.  You never once see Jesus in a hurry.  Even when one of Jesus’ closest friends, Lazarus, was on his deathbed, Jesus took His time getting to Bethany to be with Lazarus.  How is it that Jesus moved through life so slowly and yet accomplished so much?  Is there something we contemporary Christians have missed?

Maybe it is that Jesus took time off from ministry to rest.  There are several recorded occurrences in scripture where Jesus took time for Himself.  But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. (Luke 5:15-16  Not only that, He called His disciples to follow His example.  "Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest a while." For many people were coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  (Mark 6:31) (HCSB)  Jesus prescribed time off for His wearied disciples after they had returned from a prolonged period of ministry or heavy demands from the people..

In the Old Testament, God set a pattern for us.  So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. [2] On the seventh day, having finished his task, God rested from all his work. [3] And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation. Genesis 2:1-3

Shouldn’t we take His example seriously?  Rest is a part of life that cannot be ignored without loss.  Christ understood this principle and made it a point to get away both with His disciples and by Himself from time to time in order to rest and rejuvenate.  It was Jesus way of “recharging” His spiritual, physical and emotional batteries.  In doing so, He set an example for you and me to follow.  
So often our bodies themselves give us the signal that it is time to rest, and so often the signals are loud and clear.    Unfortunately, we so often are caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, of earning money, of running here and there, that we don’t listen to our own flesh.  How many folk—struck down by sickness—have finally been forced to rest, and for a long time, too, who otherwise would have been fine had they listened to what their own bodies were telling them?

Sooner or later, we will rest—one way or another.  Why not listen to Jesus and see what He was offering.  It may be one of the best things we ever did.

Scripture to Claim:
Return to your rest, O my soul, For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. Psalm 116:7

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