Rest has been my theme this week. It’s been peeking out of the books I pick up, jumping up in random conversation, and just seems to have planted itself in every corner of my life recently.
And I don’t mean just I-got-more-than-5-hours-of-sleep-last-night rest.
I’m talking about soul rest.
“How are you?”
“Good, good. I’m a little tired, life has been crazy. But I’m good.”
Does that sound familiar? I’ve said it a thousand times and heard it more.
It’s common enough. But on second glance… it’s incredibly unsettling.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.
– Matt. 11:28-30
…The burden he gives me is light?
Then… what is all this stuff that I’m carrying? Because it’s heavy.
We are servants of the Prince of Peace, and we are quite possibly the most stressed out people around.
What are we missing about God’s character that makes us rush around like this?
“You know you’ve made God in your own image when he sounds like all the worst things you secretly say about yourself. God wants to be a father, not a factory foreman.” – Shauna Niequist
I’m guilty of this. I have acted like he is a God who gives heavy burdens. I’ve acted like he would respond to me how I’ve often responded to me: a little disappointed, a little like I should have been farther along than where I am, a little like I still have a lot to prove.
And yet, that’s not the God I serve. The God I know wants walks in the cool of the evening, not shining service records. The God I know says it’s his kindness that draws us to repentance, not his expectations. The God I know created laughter and waterfalls and sunrises and all kinds of beautiful things that he didn’t have to – but he did. Just because he knew we would smile at them. Because he wanted us to rest in the fact that we are loved.
I’m not saying God will never give you something hard.
We’re still in the battle, and the Enemy is going to make doing God’s will hard sometimes.
What I’m saying is, we have our battles… but have we taken on battles that aren’t ours?
When you try to do everything, you’re like a flooded field – water spread out far and wide, but not deep. In these kinds of shallows, there is no direction. Just stagnant, standing water. And standing water doesn’t look so bad at first… but eventually, if it’s not dealt with, it kills everything around it.
You weren’t meant to be standing water.
You were meant to be a river—a conduit for living water.
A river doesn’t cover a lot of area, and because of that, where it does flow, it has power. It cuts a path and follows it, with movement and direction and depth. It is always being replenished, it doesn’t run out – and when it moves through a field, it brings life to the entire place, even though it doesn’t touch every part of it.
We see that in the river. But we often don’t see it in ourselves.
We have this idea that if we cover everything, we’ll bring life to everything.
But in reality, the flooded field drowns life – while the river, that covers little of it, causes it to thrive.
I want to be a river. So I’m working on changing my idea of how God looks at me.
I don’t have anything to prove to God. I just have to walk truly believing that he’s already proven himself faithful to me. If the burden I’m bearing is heavy… maybe it’s not what I’m supposed to be carrying.
He’s not looking for me to do more – he’s often looking for me to do less, with more of my soul.
If your schedule looks more like a flood than a river… if you’re afraid to say no to anything and anyone… Be released. You have the permission, the authority, and (dare I say it?) the responsibility to rest your soul.
Because the truth of it is? An exhausted soldier doesn’t win any battles.
A flooded field drowns, and the water itself is dead.
But a heart at rest, knowing who it is and whom it belongs to? Has the clarity of a river, knowing its banks and boundaries, and with life to spare for all that come to it.
Maybe this is the true characteristic a servant of God should bear—
That when we carry his burden, we come alive.