image of Fakarava dock courtesy of Rotoava
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
The Busy Christian Life
For many the Christian life is anything but rest. We are encouraged each Sunday with spending daily time with God in prayer AND Bible study. We have two or three meetings a week at church. Of course there are prayer meetings, men/women’s groups, accountability times, etc. Then we have our day jobs. And, don’t forget to spend time with the family. Where are we to squeeze in the promised rest?
The Busy Life of Jesus and His Disciples
Jesus’ example doesn’t give us much hope either. He spends long hours ministering to people then pulls away for extended prayer. He seems constantly busy.
He also seems to lead the disciples into the same busyness. Look at Mark 6. Jesus sends out the twelve for them to try some ministry on their own. They see success, but when they come back to share their success stories, they hear news that John the Baptist is beheaded, adding stress to their busyness.
Unfortunately there were too many people around for the disciples to get time with Jesus, so Jesus promises them some time alone and rest. As they go to separate themselves from the crowd, the crowd followed them, and Jesus gave a day long sermon. The disciples try to encourage Jesus to send the crowd away, but Jesus gets them to feed the crowd.
After this miracle, Jesus tells the disciples to go across the lake. The simple act of rowing was even difficult because of a storm that Jesus knew was coming. Battered, tired, and confused the disciples get to the other side to be rushed again by the crowds bringing the sick to Jesus. Where is the rest?
A Wrong Definition of Rest
The problem with rest is that we have the definition wrong. When we think of rest, we see ourselves on a hammock at the beach sipping a drink with an umbrella. We think rest is doing nothing.
Jesus’ definition of rest is different. He says come to me and I will give you rest. At the very least we have to have motion towards Jesus. It is not the absence of doing anything. Rest redefines work, not replaces it.
- Work has been our striving to accomplish tasks.
- Rest is allowing Jesus to lead us into the work He wants to accomplish through us.
Jesus exemplified this rest by doing only what He saw His Father doing (John 5:19).
None of the items at the beginning of the post are bad. In fact it is good to to spend time with God in prayer and Bible study. It is good to do your day job well and spend time with your family.
The problem arises when you see these things as tasks to check off in hopes of getting to your rest. Invite Jesus into your tasks. Look for Him. When you find Him, your tasks will no longer be a burden but will be a source of life.
How Jesus Finds Rest
John 4 starts with Jesus tired from His journey (ever think of Jesus being tired?). The disciples are off trying to find him some food. Jesus starts to minister to a lady by the well. Revival starts. And, Jesus is refreshed. Jesus says our food is in the spiritual not the just the natural.
O Lord, open our eyes that we may see the work you are doing around us. Help us to do only what we see You doing and not strive to do things in order to find you. You are a good Father. We believe You will take care of us as we follow You.