Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rest for the Soul

Among "modern-world" Christians, one of the best-known--and least-followed--passages of Scripture is Jesus's words in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Most of us are willing enough to "come to Him" for relief from our burdens--until we realize that He wants to take not only away the frustration of those burdens, but also the idols that frustration feeds on: our dependence on our dreams, earthly riches, and feelings of accomplishment. The actual dreams and riches may or may not have to go with the dependence, but we always fear they will--and that we'll lose a part of ourselves with them. The thought is terrifying to contemplate. As with the cancer patient who's been told it's her breast or her life, we suddenly start wondering if maybe the Physician was mistaken, or if we misunderstood what He said, or if just maybe we can cure ourselves with alternate treatment. Or even if we wouldn't rather die after all.

We were hoping to dictate at least some of our own terms. Instead we get the clear statement, "I can't help you unless you let Me take over completely." And as the full impact of that sinks in, it all but deafens us to His next words, "but what you receive in return will be so much better that you'll never miss what you give up." Even as we hear that assurance, we want to protest, "Yes, but then why can't You give me the better part first so I can let go of the old without feeling any pain at all?"

Perhaps because we could never realize the full joy of the better part without feeling the pain first. Rest is sweetest when exhaustion is genuine. 

I heard the Savior say,
“Come now to Me and rest:
Set aside your burdening load,
Learn from Me what way is best.”

I gave the Lord my load,
I took His yoke on me,
And I learned, that by His grace,
Weary hearts can be made free.

I heard the Savior say,
“You carry far too much;
Trade the load you bear for Mine,
And receive My gentle touch.”

I gave the Lord my load,
I put my trust in Him,
And I learned the humble heart
Soon is filled up to the brim.

I heard the Savior say,
“Friend, put your trust in Me:
I will give your soul true rest,
And will set your spirit free.”

I gave the Lord my load,
I took His own for mine,
And I found that new load light
In the power of Love Divine.

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