rest: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.
What do you need rest from?
Christmas-time magnifies the striving and work that characterizes many of our lives. There's always one more room to be cleaned, one more work issue to be resolved, one more person to please, one more box left unchecked on our to-do list. We are constantly barraged visually by one more thing we can do to make ourselves more attractive, our spouses more satisfied, our career more successful, our spiritual lives more fulfilling.
On a deeper level, rest is just as elusive for our souls. Does God see my life? Will doing this activity bring my heart some peace and comfort from the guilt plaguing it that I'm not enough? When do I know I've done enough to make God satisfied, so I can finally relax? What else can I accomplish that will satisfy my own internal standards of good-enough?
I often feel I want to carry my burdens myself. I want to be in control of it all - my personal life, my marriage, my reputation, my health. It all depends on me - or so I believe. If I don't finish my goals, or love my husband perfectly, or make others think well of me, then I need to work harder, make more lists, and develop more self-control. I seek rest in doing more.
But Jesus says,
Stop looking anywhere else.
I am what you need to rest.
Give me your burdens and your work. Let me bear the load.
I can teach you what it means to cease your striving for perfection, from your self-idolatry, from your constant hunger for approval and control.
And I promise - you will find rest here, in Me.
I pray that we all can hear Jesus calling us to His rest at this time of year, when the pressure to perform multiplies as we serve in our churches, cook for our families, decorate our homes, give to the needy, dress up for holiday parties, read the Advent Scriptures, write our Christmas stories, mail our greeting cards, and travel in a million different directions physically and emotionally. We are tempted to look away from Jesus towards anything else that promises peace and joy in our hectic lives.
Jesus wants to bear our burdens - to carry the responsibility for running the world and holding it all together and perfecting our souls. In exchange, we receive his salvation, which will bring more comfort than all the self-motivated work in the world. And that grace will change us into people we couldn't imagine becoming while wrapped up in our self-centered visions of the world.
Only Jesus can teach us what it means to truly rest - in his love, in his grace covering our failures, and in his sovereign control.
How have you experienced resting in Jesus in your life?