This week I’m sharing an entry from my new devotional book, Led by the Shepherd.
I have always loved sleep, and I especially love naps. As a child, I begged for naps until I was in the first grade! I can sleep anywhere. Once, I fell asleep at a concert while sitting in the front row. In my defense, I was three months pregnant with our first child, and it was after nine o’clock! Unfortunately for me, though, the biblical concept of rest has more to do with being awake than with being asleep.
“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” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT).
Jesus said that rest involves coming to Him. Only He can give rest to our souls. Here, we learn something about the kind of leader He is–a gentle and humble-hearted Shepherd who would never overburden me spiritually or otherwise. The word “rest” found in these verses teaches us about a state of inward tranquility, felt even while we’re doing necessary work. Is that kind of rest a foreign thought? Are you racing from commitment to commitment? Is it difficult to relax? Do you need some peace? If we are doing only those things that Jesus has crafted us for, we will experience inward peace or rest even though we may be busy.
Psalm 46:10 also tells us how to find soul rest. “Be still, and know that I am God” (NIV). One translation says the verse this way: “Cease striving, and know that I am God.” Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘striving’ as an “effortful attempt to gain a goal” or “straining.” What do you find yourself straining to do lately? I often find myself straining to be the perfect mother to my children, the perfect wife to my husband, and the perfect friend. The list of endless striving is still worn and lying in my hand as I doze off to sleep in my rocking chair late at night or when I awake to the buzzing alarm clock at five o’clock in the morning.
His invitation is clear: “Come to Me.”