“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
Okay, my precious momma friend, I’m going to ask you an honest question. How are you? I don’t want the usual pat answer. I want an honest answer. How are you? If you’re anything like me, the answer (with a heavy sigh) is WEARY. As a wife and mom, we’re in demand. All. The. Time. Mommas wear so many hats it’s hard to remember exactly which hat we’re wearing at any given moment. During the course of one day, mommas find themselves serving as a Chef, Teacher, Nurse, Counselor, Event Planner, Peacemaker, Policewoman, Folder of laundry, Finder of lost things, Chauffeur, Encourager, Prayer Warrior, Crisis manager–the list could go on and on. In a word, it can be EXHAUSTING. No wonder so many mommas dream of being whisked away to a tropical island where no one will ask “What’s for lunch?” or “Have you seen my baseball cleats?” I’ve talked to so many women who are burned out, worn out, overwhelmed, and just plain tired. They are teetering on the ragged edge, and feel stretched so thin they’re at risk for ripping if any pressure is added. I know that feeling. I’ve been there.
Last Spring, as I was in the midst of ending a busy school year, and preparing for a busy summer ahead, I kept pondering and praying through my own demanding life, and I kept thinking about all those mommas I’d listened to and prayed with about their busy lives. I started feeling a heavy weight, and a stinging contradiction. Jesus said if I come to Him I can find rest. So, as a follower of Jesus, instead of haggard and harried, my countenance, my life, should reflect a deep rest of the soul. But too often my life reflected chaos and calamity, not peace and joy. I was stressed and spent and frustrated and angry. I felt like I was missing a perpetual deadline and I was never, ever going to get caught up. I began pleading with my Abba about my calling to serve my husband and children, and my community. I told Him I was willing to surrender whatever I needed to find the rest He promised. What surprised me as I journeyed with Jesus was He didn’t ask me to give up anything. But He did teach me the secret to finding rest. As He often does, God’s answer to my plea was unexpected and much needed. As I searched His heart, these were His instructions:
Press in to Jesus. In my search for rest, my Abba gently took me back to John 15. He reminded me, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” NOTHING. Those words resonated in my mind. Apart from the work of Christ, I can do nothing of eternal value; nothing that really matters. But in Him, my work will be fulfilling and fruitful. He gently whispered to me, “Press in, Michele. Press in to me.” Abiding in Christ is the only way to produce viable fruit and the only place I will find real rest. When I press in to Jesus, He becomes greater and I become less. When I press in to Jesus, my striving ends and my faith begins.
Remember rest is not always external. Then He took me further in to Matthew 11: 28-29. Each word a balm for my soul. COME. WEARY. BURDENDED. I WILL. GIVE. REST. As I worked my way through the verse, the last phrase captured my attention, “You will find rest FOR YOUR SOULS.” The Lord gently whispered again, “You are called to serve. But you must quit serving in your own strength. Taking my yoke upon you means surrendering completely to my guidance. You must trust me to follow me. In trusting me, your SOUL will find rest.” God did not ask me to give up a commitment or activity. He did ask me to trust Him in the midst of busy days. Trusting Him even as I serve Him physically gives me soul rest. So even when the day is full, my heart is equally full of His truth and His love. That can only happen if I follow step one and ABIDE in Christ daily.
Be grateful. Paul exhorts the believers in Philippi to be anxious about nothing, but to bring all requests to God with thanksgiving. After bringing requests with a grateful heart, then we will find peace that surpasses understanding. If every day I lift up my concerns with an attitude of thanksgiving, then all I HAVE to do becomes all I GET to do. Paul says in Ephesians followers of Christ are created to do good works. As I walk in obedience to my calling, I am walking purposefully and intentionally in step with my King. Being thankful for each assignment, even in the hard places, even when I am stretched, refocuses my attention on the Giver of all good gifts (James 1:17). That, in turn, reminds me to abide in Jesus, which causes my soul to find rest.
So, the secret of finding complete rest is Jesus. Abide in Him. Take His yoke upon you. And be thankful. And there, my precious momma friend, you will indeed find rest for your soul.