Sometimes, I finally get to sit down near the end of the day, and a thought forms, slowly, disjointedly: I think I have too much on my plate.
Raise your hand, all of you who have ever had this thought.
I see you, in your multiple jobs and your student debt. I see you, with young children who haven’t yet learned to sleep. I see you, in your season of grief, unable to finish your tasks that you used to get through easily. I see you, having time on your hands, but not having anyone on your side. I see you.
All these things and more can build up in our lives, overwhelming our souls and bringing our minds to the very breaking point. While our brains are incredible, making decisions and learning new skills and bringing to mind tasks we had almost forgotten, we sometimes need a break from this mental overload, just to rest. We take on too much, sometimes because we have to, sometimes because (we think) we want to, and sometimes because we want to escape a feeling of emptiness. But being overrun by the to-do list and burned out by the pressure we often place on ourselves isn’t God’s best for us.
Hear these words from Matthew 11: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, (That’s me. Is it you, too?) and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, (Learn to rest like Jesus did!) for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Jesus taught us how to set boundaries, and how to rest. When he felt overwhelmed, he escaped the crowds. When he felt tired, he slept, even through a storm in the stern of a fishing boat (Mark 4). When he felt as though he just could not complete the task he had been given by the father, he prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. (Mark 14) And how did the Father respond? His will would be done, and how gloriously that story ends! Because Jesus took the cup that was offered him, we have the opportunity to come to him, weary and heavy-laden, to take his easy yoke and his light burden instead of bearing our unbearable burdens alone.
Matthew 11:29-30 in the Message translation has long been a favorite of mine. Let these words really sink in as you read them, even if it’s not your first time.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Recover your life. Unforced rhythms. Freely. Lightly.
Come to me. Keep company with me.
He is who he says he is. Accept his goodness; learn his ways. He is good to us. Let him be good to you.