Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cure for the Heavy Laden

I've been pondering the concept of peace for awhile.  Certain things have snuck in to steal the stability and rest that I so crave.  It isn't just within my own life; I don't have to look far to find friends or family that are heavy laden and waiting on a little rest.

There is a new song by Tenth Avenue North called Worn that seems perfect in times like these.

Are you feeling overburdened?  There is hope for us yet.

Sometimes, I feel like the Bible can offer magical words that seem surface driven.  We love to memorize and cling to them...but do we understand them enough to recognize why they are so important?

I have felt this way with Matthew 11: 28-30 for some time.  Sure, it all sounds promising, but what does the HOW look like in my own personal life?

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, 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."

Sounds delicious, but what does it mean?

I think possibly, there are three levels of application here.  First, and most importantly, Jesus is saying that we don't have to be slaves to trying to become righteous.  Our most amazing efforts are filthy.  All we have to do is accept his sacrifice and we are covered.  We trade in our efforts and sin for his yoke of salvation.  It is a parable for salvation.  There is eternal rest available to all who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

Second, I think the story points to the time and era.  The Jews were under horrible religious and political persecution.  Ironically, the Jewish people had been shackled by their own religious leaders, the Pharisees.  They were under the crushing weight of all the extra and made up rules that the Pharisees said they had to live under.  The Jews were carrying the burden of trying to earn salvation by good works and they knew it was simply impossible.  Their souls were in anguish.  The had no rest and didn't see how it was possible at all.  Jesus made it easy:  accept my salvation and become my disciple...and you will have rest.

Third, I wonder what it means for us today, for Believers who are trying hard in this world to find peace amidst crushed dreams, desires not realized, blatant worldly sin, epidemic viruses, financial setbacks, and the beginnings of oppression from government.  The yoke is too heavy. 

Come unto me.  Jesus says the first thing is to come.  He isn't exclusive.  He invites all.  But, it is a command...and it means to come now, at once.

He immediately gives rest to those who are overburdened or heavy laden.  We obey by coming.  He in turn, fills us with rest (anapauo:  refresh, take ease, rest.) The "rest" is complete because Christ is offering it.

Still, the passage continues and insinuates that it doesn't stop there.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart.  I think this is where we refuse to get to, therefore our initial rest doesn't last very long.  Jesus tells us to throw off our yoke but to put on his.  That doesn't make sense, does it?  Why would we need another yoke?  And what exactly does it mean to learn from Him?

This is key!  Jesus is gentle (meek) and lowly in character...here are examples:

*He seeks the good of others
*He denies self
*He never expects to be treated well
*He doesn't aim at being honored
*He is always saying "not my will but thine" to His Father
*He doesn't strive or cry out, wanting his voice or opinion to be heard

We are to learn from Him and His character.  We are to put on this character.  His character must become my own in order for lasting peace to occur.  This requires learning His character and unlearning our own.  It is a spiritual classroom.  Whatever is burdening us is to be brought to Jesus, where we ask to see things with his meekness and humility, then rest becomes ours.

I think "rest" is mentioned twice because first, we cast off the burden and can receive rest.  But, second, we can learn and find rest In Christ. Rest from something, and then a learned rest in Someone.

Spurgeon says it well, "The rest which we are to find is a rest which grows entirely out of our spirits being conformed to the spirit of Christ."  In other words, rest is a process of sanctification.  We grow in grace, become more like Christ, and experience more rest despite the circumstances because we are thinking and acting like Jesus Himself.  We have learned to.

Here is an example of how in my own life, this can be applied.  We are in a small three bedroom house that we have loved and been so thankful for...but, we are simply out of room.  The past ten years here have been a constant decluttering, trying to find space and room for three growing boys. 

Our house is on the market, but with no lookers.  We know it is time to move, because Eric feels right about it and because there is simply no where for little Asher to go.  Now, if you have ever had a baby, you know the internal motherly instincts that creep up around the 6 month mark.  Your baby must have a place to go!!!  You want to set up the crib, changing table and rocker/glider, start collecting necessary items (hello, diapers!) and simply go into the room to daydream about your newest blessing.

Right now, Asher's space consists of 5 square inches in my closet that house his diaper bag.  He doesn't have bedding, a set up nursery, or a single diaper.  I am pretty sure that he could care less, but his Momma is about to have a conniption.

Now, I can go to Jesus anytime I want and receive some rest.  God promises that.  But, I also know there is something deeper.  In order for me to receive some lasting rest, I need to take on the character of Christ in this situation.  I need to take on humility and meekness and ask to see things from the point of Jesus.

You know what He showed me?  He showed me that He was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and yet he was humble enough to not just come in human form, but to be birthed in a dirty barn amidst manure and hay.  His bed was a feeding trough, covered in leftover grain and livestock slobber.

I can learn from that.  It is humiliating, for sure, but that is something I can take from the One who is lowly and meek.  I can apply that situation that I learned from Him and remind myself of it every time anxiety threatens to overturn the peace He gave.  When I feel overburdened by not having a place for Asher, I can take on the character of Christ (meekness and humility) and wonder just why I think my son deserves more than God Himself.

The next time we are heavy laden, let us go (at once!) to Jesus.  He will fill us with rest, but let us also linger and ask to take on the character of Christ so we can view things from His perspective, where rest always abounds.

1 comment:

Kelli said...

Mmmm...I needed that. Love you. :)