"He who cannot rest, cannot work; he who cannot let go, cannot hold on; he who cannot find footing, cannot go forward."—Harry Emerson Fosdick
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."—Jesus, Matthew 11:28
We Live In A State Of Constant Stress
If there is one word that could characterize most men's lives today it would be—stress. We experience stress in our marriage, with our children, in our work, regarding the future, in self-imposed expectations, and I am sure you could add to this list different stresses you are currently experiencing. Pile on sin and the guilt that goes with it and stress is compounded with the feeling of inadequacy.
But Jesus has been and always will be the answer to your burdens. In the Gospel of Matthew, he proclaims, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." —Matthew 11:28-30.
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Three Invitations Of Jesus
First | Jesus invites us to come with our burdens
There are few more comforting words than these he spoke. Jesus invites us to, "Come to [him] and [he] will give you rest." If you've ever wanted to lay down your stresses, anxieties, worries, fears, or frustrations, this is a welcomed invitation. For the burdens you experience can be far more substantial than any physical load you have carried. They accompany you everywhere—to work, in recreation, at bed at night, and often they get in the way of relationships and needed rest. While there are vices you can turn to for temporary relief, the burdens you experience demand a strong prescription that only Jesus can provide.
Coming to him with your stresses, anxieties, worries, fears, frustrations, and all of your burdens, allows him to bear under the weight of them since he is the only one who can, has, and can extend the rest you need under this load. This is an invitation by him to lay your burdens down before him and to rid yourself of the weight you have been lugging around.
Second | Jesus invites us to take on a different yoke
Jesus continues, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Giving your burdens to Him comes with an invitation to let go of worldly burdens and take on a different "yoke" or "burden"—the burden of following him. The literal yoke inferred here is the yoke that is placed on cattle when they plow a field. It is a reference to you being bound to following Jesus and therefore yielding to his guidance, direction, and leadership of your life. While this burden is a different yoke, it has a different "weight" one that seeks your best for a fruitful life. He invites us to take on his yoke and subsequently "learn from" him. It is to learn a take on a new burden, one that provides us soul rest through this life. It is one with a fresh perspective, worldview, and insight only discovered as we yield to his direction and guidance which results in a lighter burden.
And why should you trust him? Because he is "gentle and lowly in heart." Often your notions about what Jesus is like are not only incorrect, but they turned upside. You will be tempted to view God as "harsh, distant, condemning, punitive, or unsympathetic" but these are false assumptions. God is not a killjoy, but rather a joy-giver. And while there is a burden to bear, Jesus bore the burden for you on the cross. And the reward for believers is burdens lifted. It is something we "learn" in the wearing of his yoke—that Jesus' direction is gentle and caring. Jesus implores you. He says
My kindness will overwhelm you.
My gentleness will surprise you.
My humility will draw you to me.
My forgiveness will cover all your sin.
My compassion will surround you
"And you will find rest for your souls."
All of us bear some burden which is the yoke we carry, even if we are burdened with self. None of these yokes compare to the yoke of Jesus, and he is the only one that can bring rest to your souls. If your weight is too heavy, trying bearing his yoke.
Third | Jesus invites us to let go of fear
There are many reasons not to exchange our other yokes for the yoke of Jesus and the most significant reason—fear. Which lead to numerous questions we consider.
"Can I trust that God has my best interests in mind?"
"Will He ask of me something that I don't want to do?"
"Will I have to give up too much of my freedom?"
"Will he truly be good to me?"
All of these kinds of questions you wrestle with come down to one thing—fear. And Jesus understands your fears and assures you "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." But how can this be possible? It's possible because when you wear his yoke, you don't carry your burdens anymore rather Jesus does. He willing takes them when you willingly give them. Daily as you cast all your cares upon him and he carries them for you. Furthermore, when you wear his yoke you don't do it alone but with the help of the Holy Spirit, God Himself who is resident in our hearts and empowers us for life and godliness.
Ultimately, his burden is different or "light" because everything that he teaches you to do is always for your good. Always. Living His way leaves us with a load lifted, a clean conscience, and a life well-lived.
Have you laid your burdens down, taken up his yoke and found rest for your soul?
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is 20 Lessons That Build A Leader.