Labor Day. Ah, rest! No school. No work (just barbecuing or sale-shopping or catching up on long-left-undone household chores). Thank you, government, for marking the first Monday in September to recognize American workers’ contribution to the country’s prosperity! We all get a
day off! But Tuesday will soon dawn and we’ll trek wearily back again to work or school.
This short-lived, superficial holiday rest is one reason why Jesus’ words are so welcoming . . .
“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” (Jesus–Matthew 11:28-30).
Soul-rest reaches far more deeply than body rest on a Beauty Rest.
It’s rest from . . .
- having to keep religious rules or moral laws to get right with God
- having to prove to yourself that you have self-worth
- having to show that you measure up in others’ eyes
- having to achieve success in life according to society’s scorecard
- having to discover inner peace by buying some pop guru’s secret method
- having to escape from stress by falling into potentially self-destructive addictions
- having to follow a philosophy that you already know can’t deliver what it promises
Only Jesus gives soul-rest. The invitation is, “Come to me . . . ”
Weary and weighted down by falling short of getting right with God? Of never being sure you’re worth so much? Of always being last-pick to play on the team? Of always having to congratulate somebody else for winning? Of getting stressed that the secret method to inner peace doesn’t work for you? Of eating too much or drinking too much or smoking too much to escape the “too much” of your life? Of following ideas that you already know won’t give what you want?
I’m tempted to say, “Try Jesus.” But we don’t try Jesus. We come to Jesus admitting we’re too weary to try anything else that demands anything more from us. We come to Jesus so weighted down that, honestly, we come crawling. We come to Jesus finally being convinced there’s no one else to whom we can come. We come to Jesus with nothing to offer but our own failures and sins. We come to Jesus so desperate we’re ready to follow wherever he leads. We come to Jesus like frightened little children grasping his strong hand.
And, when we come to Jesus like that, we discover five gracious gifts:
- He welcomes us with love that says, “I’ve been waiting for you. In fact, I’ve been chasing you. I’m so glad you’re here.”
- He forgives all our sins and shows us his nail-scarred hands to prove that the Father’s just and holy wrath against us is satisfied and his righteousness is ours.
- He puts his yoke of discipleship on our shoulders–then promises to give us the power it takes to walk in his ways.
- He guarantees no one can snatch us out of his hand or separate us from his love.
- And with a big smile in his eyes he whispers, “This is only the beginning. You haven’t seen anything yet!”
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and power.
Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify
True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you wait until you’re better, You will never come at all.
I will arise and go to Jesus; He will embrace me in his arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior, O there are ten thousand charms.
(“Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”–Joseph Hart)