‘I will give you rest’. A life changing and captivating invitation from Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28). Do we know what this rest is? What is this an invitation to?
It is not simply a moment to catch your breath, although it is that. It is more than regaining strength after an exhausting period, although it is that too. It is more than re-charging your batteries, although it involves this too.
This rest is the discovery of an identity that is deeply rooted in the truth that you are made in God’s image and loved by God. You have nothing to prove; you do not need to achieve anything; you are loved for who you are, not what you do.
To receive Christ’s rest, we must come to Him, take His yoke upon our shoulders and learn from Him. What does this mean?
I suppose it means many things, but it certainly involves the realisation that we are God’s children, fashioned and held by God’s Grace and enabled to live lives of beauty by God’s Power. It means to reject the demands of a world that wants us to prove ourselves (Jesus would not let the satan persuade Him to prove His worth). It means to find a rhythm that allows space for reflection, friendship and relationship. It means a life rooted in God’s Care and Presence. It means seeing prayer as a gift of intimacy and connection and not just a shoping list of requirements. It means to learn how to notice the forgotten and the neglected, and to see beauty in the brokenness of life, even when that life is our own. It means all of this and more.
Above all of this, though, I think it means to discover a satisfaction in who we are that can only come from God’s view of us. To rest, in the Biblical sense of the word, is to learn to live in satisfaction.
To know that God is enough.
To remember that saving the world is not our job, it is God’s. It is to become humble enough to accept that we cannot live well without God. We cannot fix everything. We do not have all the answers. To receive the rest that God gives us in Christ is to keep in step with Jesus, with the Spirit of Jesus and with Jesus’ Father. It is to let God’s life abide in us and flow through us. To receive His rest is to acknowledge our own shortcomings and rejoice in our dependency; it is to learn that God is enough.
Whatever stresses and strains are demanding your attention; and whatever situations are asking more of you than you can give; whatever worries are confronting you; and whatever fears or pressures are pressing in upon you; may you come to Jesus, and find rest for your soul.
(C) Malcolm J. Duncan (Advent 2019)