It seems that as we grow older, many of us struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep – so we may go through many days not completely rested. Can you recall the last time you had really great sleep? Like 8 hours or more? Without crazy dreams? For me, it’s rare…but one night this week it actually happened. I woke up and realized I had a full night of sleep and I was totally rested.
As I went through my day focusing on the idea of rest, a few scriptures came to mind that are quoted often and that I have learned some new things about in recent months. The first comes from Matthew 11:28-30.
“Then Jesus said to me, “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.”
For my entire adult life, I understood a yoke in this instance to be “A wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do.” As a result, I have always believed that to take the yoke of Jesus meant to attach ourselves to him in the same way animals are attached when plowing together. I would picture two animals being yoked together, one with more experience than the other, so that the less experienced one can be guided, or almost dragged along, to make its work much easier. But the passage further says, “let me teach you…..and you will find rest for your souls.”
As I am completing the Bible Study Jesus and Women by Kristi McClelland, I recently learned that a “yoke” when considered in Middle Eastern culture was the collection of teachings by a Rabbi – in this case, Jesus being the teacher. So, when He says, “My yoke is easy” – what we can glean is that to follow the teachings of Jesus will give us rest for our souls. Not just a great night’s sleep, but true rest and peace in every moment of our lives. Mind blown.
A second scripture is one that I am so familiar with that I even have it painted on my wall of our sunroom. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) I have always loved this verse and have always interpreted it as get still and quiet in prayer or to slow down so I don’t miss God. But I will never get over being introduced to this scripture in the New American Standard Bible for the first time. In this translation it reads, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” CEASE STRIVING!
I’m not sure about your situation, but I know that I have spent way too much of my life striving. Too much time trying to control things or fix things or manipulate things in an attempt to make everything work out. I may claim to have a strong faith, but the reality is that I have strong faith as long as nothing gets too difficult or out of control. When things get tough, I tend to go to worry or fear rather than assurance and trust. In this scripture I’m reminded to just STOP….to let go and let God be God. After all, He’s really good at being God.
Finally, as I was reading in Deuteronomy earlier this year, I noticed something in scripture I had read so many times, but it popped off the page at me afresh and anew. (That is my favorite thing about scripture, it is alive and powerful! A verse I’ve read numerous times can somehow seem completely new).
In Deuteronomy 8:3, in a recapping of the struggles and miracles the Israelites experienced in their wandering, scripture says, “He humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously UNKNOWN to you and your ancestors.”
God met the need and solved the problem by creating something completely new and UNKNOWN. God is still capable of creating a solution to any difficulty we encounter using something that we couldn’t even begin to think of or dream about because it may not even yet exist.
As I reflect on how wonderful it feels to be rested, I am leaning on these three things to help me sustain this feeling in days to come.
1) I don’t want a heavy yoke and I don’t have to have one. I want to hitch myself to a Savior who promises to take on all the heavy stuff and I want to learn all the lessons He has to teach me.
2) I can stop striving….literally STOP….because He is God and I am not.
3) The solution to whatever my problem is may not even exist right now, but I can trust that God has it under control. It does not have to be known by me.
God is far too good to us…..and so incredibly practical. I pray that if you are a natural born worrier like me that these verses will seep into your very soul as they have mine this week and that we will live a life of rest. Life is hard, but God is good. Let’s get some rest.
Stephani Cook is a life coach, speaker, writer, podcast host and the creator of On Purpose Coaching. Through On Purpose Coaching she helps others to improve relationships and to discover intentional abundant living. She does that through group and/or individual coaching, live event speaking or Enneagram workshops in private and corporate settings.
To connect with Stephani about the possibility of coaching or speaking to your group or organization, visit her website http://www.stephanicook.org