So here I am, somehow already starting the fourth week of classes and I still feel like I have no clue what is going on! I still haven’t heard back from my home university as to which classes I’m actually supposed to be taking, there are still complications for my scholarship, and there’s more drama in my architecture studio than I encountered in all of high school. Whew! All of this has me literally EXHAUSTED. Seriously, I feel like I’ve had my head in the clouds to past few weeks and have felt like I’m living the dream, but then some guy had to go and pull me back to reality. Nothing brings you back to reality like drama. UGH.
But man, isn’t that such a picture of how the enemy works in our relationship with God? We are literally flying in the clouds with Jesus, oblivious to the troubles in our life because we are so focused on the wonderful things He is showing us, then the enemy starts attacking… he sees how much we are growing and is determined to destroy that so he starts DRAMA down here on earth.
This week I have been studying Matthew 11:28-30 with a friend and I really thought God was leading me to that verse for her, but now I realize that was totally for me too. So I thought I’d share it since it seems to be relevant for at least two of us and I hope it is for you, too!
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
“Come to Me”
This seems so simple, and honestly it is when it’s the person across the room asking you, but sometimes this simple request can seem so difficult or feel like there’s an obstacle course between you and God. It can sometimes seem like no matter how much you pray, how much you worship, how much you listen, you can’t hear anything. So how exactly do we “go to Jesus”? We go through prayer, fasting, reading scripture, meditating on the word, listening for the voice of God, and worshipping.
“all of you”
Jesus uses the word “all” signifying an open invitation for any and every person, the room Jesus is in will never be at capacity— there is room for all. He uses “you” instead of “those,” which brings this statement to a personal level— Jesus is speaking directly to me and you, friend.
“who are weary and burdened”
Man, this part speaks to me. The term weary means feeling or showing tiredness as a result of excess exertion. This “excess exertion” can result from physical or emotion work. For me, it’s pretty often the latter. Maybe I should be working out more so I feel the physical one as well? HA. Just kidding. In all seriousness though, experiencing excessive emotional exertion can have physical impacts, too. I can’t tell you the number of nights of sleep I have lost simply because I have had so much on my mind that I literally couldn’t sleep or would toss and turn all night!
The term burdened is really interesting to me. We use it so often in our culture to refer to our hearts, troubles, and dilemmas. I mean how many times have you heard, “it’s not your burden to bear” or “you’re not burdening me at all!” Burden actually just means “to load heavily.” It doesn’t necessarily have an emotional context in the definition, but I think looking at it as a physical thing is really important. For example, imagine there’s a truck that is “heavily burdened” it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is one massive boulder in the back; it might, but it could also mean it’s filled to the brim with millions of small pebbles. Lots of small burdens can be just as heavy as one massive one, but seem to slip under our radar!
“and I will give you rest”
Jesus is the giver of rest. Rest is pretty cool. Did you ever realize that the first rest in the history of ever was done by God? Genesis 2:2-3 “By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.” Literally this was the creation of rest. I don’t know about you, but when I think of God I don’t really think of Him needing a day off. It’s such a strange thing to think about God resting. I literally don’t think about God ever resting. I feel like I always think of God as completely outside of these the physical needs we have like rest, hunger, thirst, etc. I truly believe God was more doing this to set an example for us to follow because He knew we would need it more than He actually needed rest Himself!
One of the first sermons I remember hearing featured a one liner insisting that we “set one day aside each week to remind yourself that you aren’t a machine.” For one whole day, God, the creator of the universe, rested. And we should too. Some Sundays it’s hard to rest for the entire day because of tests on Monday morning or those bosses that won’t let you off every weekend, but still, we should find that one day a week even if it can’t be Sunday. For me, that day is Monday when it can’t be Sunday.
I want to point out that this “rest” that Jesus is giving us will most of the time be emotional or mental rest that leads to physical rest. I’m not limiting God because I know if He wanted to He could march us right over to our bed and put us down for a nap, but Jesus often uses a physical need to describe what He can give us mentally or spiritually. For example, the woman at the well— Jesus tells her (in John 4) that “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever!” While this is super great, I still get thirty for water. It’s the same for rest, becoming a Christian doesn’t mean never getting tired again, but it means knowing exactly where to go when it happens so therefore you will never really be without rest again because it is literally just a “come to me” away.
“All of you”
Jesus once again addresses us directly.
“take up My yoke and learn from Me”
Jesus uses an action to refer to beginning the process. “Take up” is an action. We have to actively take up/put on the yoke of Jesus every morning. It’s not going to happen passively; it won’t happen on its own. But what is this yoke? For the longest time I confused this with an “egg yolk” and was sooo confused as to what this meant, but when I finally realized, it made so much sense. I think back to the days of going to the horse pull night at my county fair and seeing horses pull seemingly impossible weights. The harness that was on them while they were pulling was the “yoke.”
This starts to make sense when we look at other times we are “yoked.” Look at 2 Corinthians 6:14— “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” and Hebrews 12:1-2— “…let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith…” These verses all work together to give us the whole picture of this yoke that Jesus is talking about.
First, it should be said that you cannot wear two yokes at once, ever. Before we put on the yoke of Jesus, we have to realize that we are already yoked to something… this yoke that we are wearing is loaded heavily, BUT when we come to Jesus we take off that yoke and replace it with His yoke. Second, there can be a one horse pull, but what makes these events so fascinating is that the horses work as a team. They have to be of equal strength or else it actually will make the team weaker and their work will be in vain because they will be pulling against each other. We see in 2 Corinthians that we are not to be unequally yoked meaning we need to be on a team that is working to pull the burden toward the same finish line. Lastly, in Hebrews we see we are commanded to lay aside every weight that so easily ensnares us so that we can run the race that lies before us. I truly believe these weights that are ensnaring us are being added onto a yoke that we have put on ourselves; again, it’s an active pursuit to continually take off the yoke that is pulling the wrong and heavy burden and put on the yoke of Jesus.
“because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.”
This statement is the justification for why you should put on His yoke. The yoke of Jesus is so different than the yoke we are currently wearing. We are being literally “driven” by an evil little voice in our head that tells us we have to pull this weight and continue to pick up the wrong yoke every day, but Jesus says His guiding voice is different. He tells us to learn from Him, because His voice is gentle and humble and when we do this we will FIND REST! How crazy is it that Jesus is asking us to put on a yoke (a tool used to do work) so that we will find rest… I think this is crazy cool! Think about it, sometimes we literally are struggling so so so much to do a seemingly simple task, but we can’t. Then someone walks up and shows you that you’ve been doing it wrong the whole time and suddenly it’s super easy. That’s us in this situation. We’re putting on a yoke that is attached to a burden we were never meant to pull.
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The load that we are carrying is the burden. Our burdens are heavy. To be burdened literally means to be loaded heavily, Jesus says His burden is light. This is so opposite.
The yoke that you are taking up is your calling in Christ. When you step into your calling it won’t be pulled without any effort, there is still a burden, but it shouldn’t be so difficult. Sometimes we are still struggling so much and feeling like Christ’s burden is still heavy… that situation (and trust me I’ve been there) is super frustrating. You feel like you are putting on the yoke of Christ, but it’s not quite fitting right. If you feel like this, I want to you really ask yourself why are pulling this burden?
For example, I really love to worship through singing. While it will never be bad for me to worship through song, that’s not my calling. There was time when I was really pursuing that as my main calling in Christ and I really think at the time I wanted it to be my calling and because it wasn’t a bad thing, it seemed logical. But the truth is, that was not what God was calling me to do for His kingdom. I had picked up the wrong yoke again. This one was attached to a burden that held a lot of self doubt, feeling like I wouldn’t be good enough, no confidence, pride, and things kept getting in the way. I would literally get sick every time it was “my time” to sing. I realize now that I wasn’t fully looking to expand the kingdom through this, but I was looking to expand myself, too. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t worship God through singing or that I should never sing with the worship team at my church, but it does mean that I should not be viewing that as my main calling from God. Instead I should be putting on the yoke that was put out for me and running the race that was set for ME. Does that make sense? I hope so. God called me to evangelism a few years ago and I was a little scared of what that would entail, being open and vulnerable? Giving up my plan for my life? I had no clue. I can tell you I have never felt more joy than when I hear someone tell me how reading my post affected them. Truly, this is my yoke (for now any way)!
I say all of this to say that 1. It’s totally okay to be weary and heavy burdened. The load we are pulling is heavy, this is why we are so weary, but Jesus tells us that REST is found in Him; 2. Rest is found when we are putting on the right yoke and pulling the right burden, and 3. It is so so so important to be yoked with the right person or else even the lightest load will feel heavy.
Phew, that was a long one! If you are still with me all the way down here, I applaud you! I really mean for these to not just be read, but to be sat down, journaled with and for you to find your own truths as I share with you what God has shown me in these verses!