We looked yesterday at how Jesus says to all who are weary, “come to me”. His arms are wide open for the weary and restless.
But what happens when we come to him? What will we receive in exchange for our weariness and burdens? There are several things he gives, and one of them is rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Jesus gives us rest for our weary hearts. Jesus is our Noah (Noah meaning rest or comfort in Hebrew). He provides a shelter in the storm and carries us through to safe land. When you are weary and heavy laden, Jesus beckons you to come to Him and find rest.
I love the story of Elijah. I really like the bit where he sees the Lord do all these amazing things, raining down fire and showing that He alone is God. Then there is that bit straight after where Elijah freaks out and runs away. As he runs away and hides, he becomes weary and tired. He gets to the point where he is so overwhelmed that he wants to die.
Ministry can get like that. Life can get like that.
My guilty conscience would say: “Get up and get on with it! Don’t be lazy, there is more work to do”. But the Lord is kind and gentle and instead he does this:
And he [Elijah] lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. (1 Kings 19:5-8, ESV)
Do you see what happens here? The angel provides Elijah with food, water and sleep. Elijah rests and the Lord provides that rest through practical things. This doesn’t feel very spiritual does it? This feels very human. I love that the Lord knows what we need and sometimes our bodies need this kind of rest. When we are carrying heavy burdens and feeling tired sometimes all we need to do is sleep, eat and drink and enjoy what the Lord provides for us.
So when you come to Jesus be prepared for him to say to you – “Go, sleep and eat and be refreshed”. You don’t need to be more spiritual than that.
The other type of rest we get, is a peaceful rest from the worries that stir in our heart. By giving us rest, he is saying that he has dealt with sin on the cross, he has defeated the evil one, he has given us our identity and worth and we have no need to fear.
His perfect rest means:
- You no longer have to strive and conquer to feel like you are worth anything – Jesus has won the victory for you.
- You no longer have to win approval from others or from God – Jesus loves you and died for you.
- You no longer have to worry about where you will eat, sleep or what you will wear – Jesus says the Father provides that for you.
- You no longer have to search for your identity in others or in things – Jesus has clothed you and calls you his bride.
Jesus gives rest to the weary heart. He gives assurance to the worried heart. As the song goes:
In Jesus I’ve found a sweet rest
From sorrow, from toil, and from care;
In Him I am happy and blest,
For He all my burdens doth bear.
I came to the Lord for release,
When burdened with guilt and with sin;
He cleansed me, and gave me His peace,
The Spirit to witness within.
Though many the troubles I meet,
He’ll keep me, and help me along;
I’ll sit at His glorified feet,
For He is my joy and my song.
Sweet Rest in Jesus – L. S. Riggs, pub.1885
**Photo: By oliverkendal (Flickr: Creative Commons licence)