By Josh Gordon
We were designed to live in Eden, but this world sure isn’t it. We all experience things we weren’t designed to experience and we carry weight we were never designed to carry. About four years ago, Father, in His graciousness began to dismantle and deconstruct my concept of Him. Today, we’re going to look at Matthew 11:28-30, a passage of scripture that Father used in my life to truly capture His heart and desire for me - and it’s His heart for all of us.
Matthew 11:28-30 says:
28. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29 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.
30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Sounds pretty amazing, right? But four years ago, these verses were NOT my experience. Let’s take a look at this passage, and explore the life Father is inviting us into, and how we can embrace this amazing gift.
In verse 28, Jesus addresses us as those who are weary and heavy-laden and immediately invites them to rest. That word “rest” in the original language is a combination of ‘to be exempt’ and ‘to refresh.’ So He’s saying, whatever is burdening and exhausting you, I will exempt you from that AND I will refresh you. This Greek word also contains the interesting implication of recreation. So, not only will He exempt and refresh you, but you’ll enjoy life with Him without so much as lifting a finger.
In verses 29 and 30, Jesus uses the metaphor of a yoke; it’s important to note that the yoke does not reference work, but instead, union with Him. A yoke is a wooden collar that fits over the shoulders of two beasts of burden, often oxen, to help them pull together. When a young animal needed to be trained for work, they’d link them up with a strong, experienced partner who would pull the weight while showing the inexperienced animal how to move in unison, navigate turns etc. And that’s a picture of us right there.
Jesus isn’t saying, “Let me help you pull your load, let me help you with your burden.” He’s saying, “Let me take ALL the weight,
so you can learn to walk and live step by step with me.”
In these incredible verses from Matthew, God also invites us to find rest for our souls. The word ‘soul’ comes from the Greek word, ‘psuchais’, which is from the word ‘psyche’, which is where we get our word psychology. Biblical scholars, who have a lot more experience and skill than I, will tell you that psyche refers to a person’s soul - and that our souls contain our mind, will, and emotions. Jesus wants to give much needed rest to our mind which can become confused, clouded, and sometimes so uncertain of which choice to make. He wants to give rest to our will which is suffering under consequences of decisions we’ve made, the difficult decision we have to make, or our own efforts to try and fix ourselves. And, Jesus wants to give rest to our emotions that are wreaking havoc on us. Guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, He wants to exchange it all for His rest.
In verse 30, Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The Passion Translation says it this way, “All that I require of you will be pleasant and easy.” Woah! This is NOT what I’ve believed and experienced, but that IS Jesus’ description of life with Him! He is telling us it is what we can count on when we’re abiding with Him.
How does this all sound to you? Too good to be true? Drastically different than your daily experience? Unattainable? Generally, there are three things that Father has shown me that can prevent me from experiencing what Jesus is offering; it could be that my idea of what God is like is off, my concept of myself is off or, I’m not abiding.
I’d like to offer you a few thoughts to consider if you find yourself not experiencing the beautiful, restful life God promises His children. These things have been useful on my own journey with Father.
God is not threatened by your anger, fury, anxiety, or stress. He values your heart above all else, and He longs for your gloves off, uncensored, not-safe-for-work honesty.
Acting ‘Yes, Jesus’ always trumps feeling ‘Yes, Jesus.' This means that we don’t always feel like the things God tells us about Himself are true, but in faith, we can act out of what we choose to believe, in spite of what we feel. Saying yes to Jesus can look different, during different circumstances in our lives, and that’s okay.
This is a process and it takes time, so give yourself permission to fail and not be perfect. Deconstructing broken beliefs and lies takes time. Father loves you and accepts you today, as you are. His love for you will never change, even if you only got worse. So go easy on yourself.
Come to Him in your exhaustion, confusion, and clouded thinking, and the parched ache of your personal desert experience will melt away in the oasis of a trusting friendship with Jesus.
Your desert will become a beach.
I can promise you, without a shadow of a doubt, when you say yes to Jesus, when you accept Father’s invitation, He takes you seriously. He WILL respond and work in your life. He who has begun a great work… will complete it! (Philippians 1:6)