(by Heather Marshall)
Am I the only one who gets excited over opening my mailbox only to find a special invitation waiting for me inside? Whether it be to a wedding, baby shower, or birthday party, there’s something about holding that lovely invitation in your hands and feeling grateful that the person throwing the event desires you to come.
Not only did they think of you, they also went to painstaking effort to craft a beautiful invitation that conveys the details of their celebration. Even though electronic invitations are very convenient, in my mind, nothing replaces the good, old-fashioned paper variety. I love looking at the details and the color combinations, which often match the theme of the upcoming event.
Perhaps it’s been awhile since you received an invitation to an occasion in the mail; take heart, there’s an invitation waiting for you on the pages of God’s Word in Matthew 11:28-29. In your mind, picture opening the pages of your Bible to these beautiful words written in the most peaceful script and in the shades of ink that are the most relaxing and calming to your soul.
Then Jesus said, “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.”
Sister, this is an invitation from the very God of heaven for you! If you’re like me, and I believe you are, you have moments of weariness when you struggle with heavy burdens that maybe no one else knows about. He knows, and He’s inviting you to partake of His rest.
His rest is a gift that He gives us when we come to Him with our burdens and weariness. Jesus tells us to take His yoke. A yoke is a wooden beam normally used to pair oxen or other animals to enable them to work together. This may not sound too appealing when we’re already feeling weighed down, but the key here is that it is Jesus’ yoke. When we accept Jesus’ yoke, we allow Him to walk with us and share the load.
Jesus is inviting us to share our load with Him. An important element of an invitation is that a response is required from the invitee. If we receive a lovely invitation in the mail and then proceed to shove it away in a drawer, never to think of it again, we will miss the celebration and all the joy associated with it.
Practically speaking, how do we respond to Jesus’ invitation to rest? The phrase in verse 29 “You will find rest for your souls” is a direct quote from Jeremiah 6:16, “This is what the LORD says: Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and you will find rest for your souls.”
These old ways are the ways of godliness and righteousness that God has blessed. In the times of Jeremiah, this would have included seeking to follow God’s laws. In the day of grace in which we live, we still seek godliness and righteousness, but this comes through having a relationship with Jesus. We receive rest by accepting His invitation and seeking to develop an intimate relationship with Him through daily time in His presence.
Chuck Swindoll beautifully describes this intimacy and resulting rest:
In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest. All He asks is that we come to Him...that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him — totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence.
Once again, visualize that invitation in your mind. Do you see how the words are perfectly centered on that gorgeous page? There are margins around the words and lines to make it visually appealing and easy to read. This concept of margins (or space) is one that we can use to help us rest in Jesus.
We need to intentionally create margins (space) in our everyday lives to rest with Jesus. This could look like getting up early to read Scripture, meditate, and pray, or it might look like creating some space in the middle or at the end of our day. Whatever works for the day ahead. The key is to allow that margin for rest.
Beloved, allow the words of this beautiful invitation from The Message to captivate your soul today and then respond to His call. He’s waiting to help you live freely and lightly.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Matthew 11:28-28).