Finding Rest In the Lord When Life is Stressful
Jesus wants to spend time with us
Sometimes we get too busy to spend time with God, seeking His face, hearing His heart, and Him hearing our hearts. Did you know the Lord cherishes us and the times we spend together so intimately? Sometimes we go off and try to solve our own problems with the thought in the back of our head, 'I'll go to God if this doesn't work out.' Or perhaps we get so caught up in ministry we forget it is His ministry and He wants to lead us. Or sometimes we just forget how powerful and loving He is and we've put Him in a box, and faith has gone tepid or dry. Maybe we've been caught up in sin and either feel too ashamed to come to Him, or don't want to give that sin up, thus we avoid Him.
In his little booklet, My Heart, Christ's Home, Robert Boyd Munger tells the story of a man who gets a knock at the door. He opens the door and there is Jesus. He invites the Lord to come in to take residence in his heart. He shows Jesus around the house and Jesus tells him what bad things need to go and what He will replace them with. Jesus is quite taken with the living room. It has a cozy fire, cozy furniture, and warm atmosphere. "Let's come here often. It's secluded and a quiet, and we can have good talks and fellowship together." And so they do, and it's sweet and rich. But as time went by the man got busy and distracted, the time they spent together was shortened and eventually he stopped coming completely. One day, on his way out, the door to the living room was ajar and he saw Jesus sitting there alone by the fire. And it hit him that he had invited Jesus into his heart as Savior and Friend and here he was neglecting Him. He told the Lord he was sorry and asked if He'd been there every day.
"Yes," He said. "The trouble is that you have been thinking of the quiet time, of Bible study and prayer as a means for your own spiritual growth. This is true, but you have forgotten that this time means something to Me also. At a great cost I have redeemed you. I value our fellowship. Whether or not you want to be with Me, I want to be with you."
That part of the story has always moved me deeply, and I think of it whenever I've been neglecting the Lord like this man. But what a concept we fail to grasp - that Jesus values His time with us and it's of great importance to Him. We are not just cheating ourselves when we neglect God, but we are cheating Him. He gave His life for us because He loves and values us so highly. Of course He wants to spend time with us. Relationships take two parties participating, sharing a mutual love. Spending special time with the Lord ought to be like two lovers meeting for a tryst where they will sit and talk quietly and intimately, sharing their dreams and trials, and expressions of love and devotion.
We often go through weary, stressful, and anxious times. God beckons us to come sit with Him and learn from Him. God wants for us to tell Him our troubles, our joys, to ask for His guidance and help, and He wants to love us. Following is a poem I wrote for a friend, and for myself as well, when we were going through some real buffeting times and feeling frazzled and weary.
Come Rest With Me by the River
Your road’s been growing steeper,
Clamors of life, how they roar.
Abide with Me, beloved,
Where my pleasures are forevermore.
Come rest with Me by the river
Where refreshing water flows
See how lovely is our trysting place,
Where your heart will find repose.
Let’s recline on verdant banks,
Under shaded copse of trees.
Sup with me on bread and wine,
While we whisper in the breeze.
What sweet delight our friendship,
O the fragrance of our love,
Suffusing life with gladness,
Rich blessings from above.
Rest safe upon my bosom,
Kiss the scars upon My hands,
Enter in My holy place,
And My grace by which you stand!
© 2016 Lori Colbo. All rights reserved.
You will find rest for your souls
In the poem I tried to capture intimacy, mutual delight, relaxation, and the unburdening of the weight of cares we carry around as opposed to rushing through and dutiful. In the very beginning Jesus recognizes how the world and all it's demands and clamor can roar so loud we can't hear Him calling, and we are stressed and weary.
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus calls us to come rest in Him:
Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of 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.
This passage in context is a response to the burdensome laws the religious leaders of Jesus day laid on the people. There was no relationship with God, it was relationship with the law. The Pharisees came up with six hundred types of work that could not be done on the Sabbath. Add to that all the other nit picky laws they added for everything under the sun. The Pharisees weighed the people down by harsh demands to conform to the letter of every law. They showed no mercy. And the people felt defeated.
The word "yoke" Jesus uses brings to mind the yoke that two oxen wear which allows for one oxen to help bear the burden of the other. One source explains it this way -
"My yoke" here means "the service of God as I teach it" (the common interpretation, "the sorrows that I bear," is utterly irrelevant) and the emphasis is on "my." The contrast is not between "yoke" and "no yoke," but between "my teaching" (light yoke) and "the current scribal teaching'; (heavy yoke). 1
The word "burden" can be likened to freight. It carries the idea of an individual bearing that freight on their own. 2 The word "easy" means kind and useful or well fitted. 3.
So we could reword the passage to say "Come unto Me, you who are weary and carrying the demands of the law on your own as heavy freight, and I will give you rest. Take the service of God as I teach it, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and I will give you rest and refreshment for your souls. For my teaching is kind and useful."
Of course that is not as poetic sounding as the actual text but it sure puts it in perspective. So as part of our relationship and fellowship with Christ, we are to cease striving, be still, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).
David was on the run for years, first from King Saul, and later from his son Absolam and enemies of every kind. He was often surrounded by enemies, betrayed by friends, weary and burdened. And when he sought God, God always came through because God is always faithful. In Psalm 23 David speaks of the Lord as our Shepherd who brings us to rest and safety, and cares for our needs with kindness and gentleness, just as we see in Jesus.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
In a nutshell, Christ, as our Good Shepherd keeps us safe, cared and provided for. We have no need to fear. We can rest in lush grass and drink cool water, find comfort in knowing that he will deal with our enemies, particularly The enemy, and goodness and mercy will surround us and follow us always and we have a secure spot in eternity. Even should we stray, as some errant sheep tend to do, He will leave the ninety nine sheep and come looking for us.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me...My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and My Father are one" (John 10:14, 27-30).
1 Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'YOKE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.
2 Strong's Concordance 5413. phortion: a burden.
3 Strong's Concordance 5543.chréstos: Good
© 2017 Lori Colbo