One of the least sought after things in life is one of the things Jesus most wants to give. Many Christians, especially those who draw their livelihood from ministry, ignore this thing completely in an effort to achieve things they think hold greater value. The thing that everyone needs but nobody really wants is rest.
In Matthew 11.28, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The heart of Jesus (and therefore the heart of the Father) is to give you rest. It’s one of the primary things on His agenda for your life. My life, on the one hand, is remarkably simple. All I have to do is live from a place of rest. I find that when I still myself to live in rest, everything is easy. Trials, tribulations, frustrations, difficulties, obstacles, real world problems - all of those things are experienced from a completely different place. It’s not that I don’t encounter them, but rather, I live in a bubble of utter rest and they don’t touch me.
The difficult part of my life, on the other hand, is remembering to live in rest. When I forget that rest is my home, that rest is where God lives, I begin to think that everything is up to me; my schedule, my ministry, my family, my finances, my to-do list, my focus, etc. I become tired, grumpy, irritable, disconnected and overwhelmed by what I’m not getting done. At that point, rest seems foolish but it’s actually the very thing I need and it’s the place I am called to live in and thus live from. It’s one of the upside down things of the kingdom (along side giving to receive, dying to live, etc) that makes no sense to the natural mind, but is designed by God to help us return to a child like state of dependency and wonder.
AJ and I extend this paradox because together we are both very good at resting and very bad at resting. We’re bad at resting because it’s not our default operating system. AJ is very fluent in the shaper life language¹; and I’m very fluent in the doer life language. That means in our working relationship (and life in general) she loves to plan and I love to implement. So we are constantly moving, planning, implementing, doing, building, working - it’s a place we are very comfortable in and part of that is who God has made us to be. We thrive in that place, we come alive in the midst of doing but it’s not where we are designed to live, it’s where we are designed to work.
But we’re also good at resting because we have learnt how important it is to switch off and enter rest. AJ and I both have fairly well developed boundaries. If you’ve every tried to contact me on Friday or Saturday you’ll have encountered my voice mail. Typically I don’t return phone calls, reply to txt messages or emails on those days. I don’t meet with anyone and on those days I try to devote my focus to my family and myself. I have learnt that self care is not selfish. AJ and I hold each other accountable to keep those days free of work, free of ministry and aim to make them life giving days. Where we sometimes fail is using those days of rest for other types of work! Thankfully we have great friends in life who call us on this. Our pastor and dear friend, Jeff Dollar, is constantly monitoring his staff and mandating them to take time off (last year he threatened to fire us if we didn’t take a week off within a certain time period!). Holy Spirit often has to whisper (and sometimes shout!) that it is time for us to rest. We’ve both been blessed by great friends who understand how we are wired and recognize our need for space and time alone to rest and recharge and they give us that space.
In verse 29 of Matthew 11, Jesus continues, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
I think this verse reveals two of the primary reasons we don’t choose rest... we simply haven’t learned from Jesus because we don’t know what He’s really like. For much of my Christian life, I didn’t realize that Jesus was lovely or that He was gentle or kind. Somewhere I had my wires crossed and I thought that He was constantly watching to ensure I wasn’t wasting time and that everything I was doing was either a) building His kingdom or b) was at the very minimum, edifying for my personal growth. That mindset leads to performance and burnout or self satisfied pharisaical pride... neither of which are a particularly good look. I found that encountering Jesus and receiving a revelation of what He’s really like changed all of that. Once I discovered what Jesus is really like, I wanted to learn from Him and I found His yoke easy.
The greatest revelation I have had in my life is that I am my Father’s son and that He is my heavenly daddy. The revelation of the father heart of God²; is rooted in love and out of that love, you experience rest. Remaining in God’s love and living in rest makes everything easy. I simply arise each day to be a son and live out the inheritance God’s prepared for me. If I stay there, everything becomes easy.
- The Kendall Life Language profile is the most effective tool I’ve found to help you understand you, your communication style and those around you. You can take a profile yourself for a small fee at http://taproot7.com
- There are many wonderful resources to help you experience this revelation, but I know of few better than AJ's book, Finding Father.
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