“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)
Typically on the farm, Labor Day meant a day to labor, another of many laboring days. Sometimes a picnic was thrown in. Rest had to do with drop-into-bed-at-the-end-of-the-day heat exhaustion mixed with the kind of energy depletion from a long day of cooking, cleaning and hauling.
In my mind, Matthew 11:28-30 always brought farm pictures into my mind of cattle, wagons and old-fashioned shoulder to shoulder wooden yokes colored with today’s fashionably weather stained gray.
But today my Laboring Days image goes to people-wearied, ministry-laden, time-scrunched scheduled life.
Our four-year-old described it well once when she stayed with her grandparents for a week while her daddy and I were traveling for ministry.
“Please, please come home soon,” she pleaded into the phone, her baby voice a hiss of deep need. “I can’t be good much longer.”
That is the kind of pushing and striving of I-gotta-behave-Christianity which in the weariness of trying to please exhausts me.
“Jesus, come soon,” I can’t be good much longer my soul breathes.
“Give us some relief.”
“Take away this situation.”
“Give us a break.”
But Jesus is talking about so much more than farm labor or ministry exhaustion.
He is talking about Himself. He is our rest. He is our answer to the crazy rat race of life.
He reaches toward us with a hand of invitation.
“Come, rest in my presence. Sit at my feet. Lay down that heavy weight you carry.”
Sit in the shade a bit.
Put it down.
Take a load off your feet.
There is context in these verses of a Jewish population burdened with religious laws and demands which Christ Himself described as heavy and cumbersome loads. (Matthew 23:14) He scolded hypocrisy, unrepentance and obstinance, and offered Himself as rest.
“Come,” he commands. Don’t stay where you are. Whoever you are, all of you who are growing weary, exhausted from hard work, burdens that weigh you down, or grief which takes all joy and energy, change course.
“Come to Me.”
Yah, you. And me.
Jesus provides Himself as the answer. Because you see, trying to please God is a never-ending-falling-short-of cycle. Jesus died on the cross because we can’t please him no matter how much we work, how weary we get. We just aren’t that good. But Jesus is.
I know this in my head, but sometimes I still climb on that treadmill. I still find myself weary, laboring for Christ with my own depleted strength and power, trying to earn His approval. And He brings me back to these verses.
“Come to Me, all you 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; NKJV.
This is what I need to let soak into my being during my laboring days.
“All you who labor and are heavy laden…”
I need to cease carrying what I cannot, and sit a spell in His presence.
Does anyone else out there carry a load they need to lay down? How do Jesus’ words speak rest into your Laboring Days?