I am coming off of a wonderful week of a spring break “staycation” during which I did a whole lot of Netflix binging, junk food eating, and window shopping with friends. Second only to a warm weather destination or maybe New York City, “staycations” are one of my favorite ways to relax. It is amazing how differently I feel after a few days of resting my mind, body and spirit. As I walked into my school building Monday morning it just felt as if the birds were singing sweetly, the sun was shining brightly and all was well with the world. I really want to bottle this feeling and see if somehow I can’t make it last to the end of the school year.
As I reflect on what it feels like to be totally rested, God has reacquainted me with a few scriptures that are quoted often, but that I’ve honestly never really completely understood. It’s as if God has shown me these particular three for the first time in an effort to teach me how to live in a state of rest much more often than I do. I want to share them with you. 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.”
First of all, what exactly is a yoke? “A yoke is 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.” So, if I take on that visual, I believe that to take the yoke of Jesus means to attach ourselves to him in the same way animals are attached when plowing together. He further says, “let me teach you…..and you will find rest for your souls.” I can’t help but 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. He can handle the burdens we aren’t strong enough to bear. And he WANTS to.
A second scripture is one that I am so familiar with that I even have it painted on my wall in the room where I do my quiet time each morning. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) I have always loved this verse and have previously interpreted it as "get still and quiet"in prayer or to "slow down so I don’t miss God." But this week I was introduced to this verse in the New American Standard Bible for the first time. In this translation it is read as, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” CEASE STRIVING! I love that!!
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 last week, I noticed something in scripture I had read so many times, but it popped of 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 I encounter by using something that I couldn’t even begin to think of or dream about because it may not even yet exist.
So as I reflect on how wonderful it feels to be so rested and to feel so little stress, 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.
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 past week and that we will live a life that can feel like a “staycation” year round. Life is not meant to be so hard. Get ready for the joy!