Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:28-29
Right at about a year ago, I was given a prophecy. As I was reading the story of the creation, I saw where each year that I had been a pastor correlated almost perfectly with each day God created. I understood that 2020 was going to be a year of rest, though I didn’t really know what that meant. I thought that it meant that I would lead a group of people into rest for 2020. Turns out, it was for me alone to learn how to enter rest personally. Even though 2020 isn’t even half over, I thought I’d write out what I’ve learned so far.
I’m always amazed at how many verses I can bring to my mind, but I can’t think of any context surrounding those verses. It is very important that we know the surroundings of a verse. If we don’t understand the context, we will end up thinking that Biblical rest is some sort of state of retirement or perpetual laziness. We like to justify our actions and think that God wants us to get a new job, a new church, a new preacher, a new spouse, or a new whatever we think will make us happy.
In Matthew 11, we must catch a couple of things. For one, John the Baptist is doubting that Jesus is who He says He is. John is in prison and sends someone to flat out ask Jesus, “Are you the one, or should we look for another?” John’s life sucked at that moment. He had preached for God, prepared the way for Jesus, spoken the truth to Herod and his new wife, and it landed him in prison. He was wondering in his heart if it was all worth it. He probably even thought that in some way he had at least “earned” the right to be kept out of prison. In a moment of despair, he asks Jesus if He is even the Messiah they’ve been waiting for. I think everyone who follows Christ has to go through a “prisoner in the cell” moment. It is a moment of brutal honesty where you flat out ask God, “Do you do any good? Are you going to help me? Have I been following you for nothing?”
Afterwards, in the same chapter we find Jesus describing the generation. It certainly describes the majority of Christians today as well. He says they are like children sitting at a marketplace calling out to each other. He goes on to say that when music is being played, they won’t dance. He says when mourning is taking place, they won’t lament. In other words, they never catch on to what God is trying to do in their lives. It’s like they are chasing the wind and just can’t be happy and content. They think salvation is a magic wand waved over them. Jesus is present, but people are off to find the next dynamic preacher. Jesus is present, but people want to see Him do another trick, another miracle. Praise is being offered up, but people won’t join in. When it is time to repent and spend some time at the altar, people won’t go. Jesus goes on to lament the fact that, had the same miracles taken place elsewhere, they would have repented. It is hard to believe that I have questioned God after all that I have seen and heard, and after all He has done for me.
At that time, Jesus answered and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.” — Matthew 11:25
Look at that last word, “babes.” Jesus calls those closest to Him children. I am learning that I don’t mind at all being considered a child. In the same way that I’m trying to train up my own children, I can see God trying to train me up. In the same way they need to be disciplined by me, I need to be disciplined by Him. I may think like John the Baptist every once in a while, and say, “What are you doing? Why did you allow this awful hurt in my life?” I may get off track thinking that there is some sort of labor that I have to do to earn God’s favor. I may even think that I’ve sinned so greatly that God is angry with me and no longer sees me fit for salvation. But, ultimately, when I begin to feel like this, I have the greatest gift this world has to offer. I can do just like my children used to do when they were little. I can pull myself up near God’s lap and ask Him to hold me. No matter what you’ve done and no matter how bad you feel you have been performing, He will pick you up every single time and hold you, love you, and let you know that everything is ultimately going to be just fine. You will find perfect rest.
Lord, I come to you this morning in just about the most perfect state of rest I’ve ever felt. I thank you that I don’t have to perform for you. The truth is, I’m just not that good at performing. I thank you that I can just be me. With all my imperfections, I can just be me. Thank you for holding me this morning. I pray for everyone who reads this that, just for a moment, they will close their eyes, let you pick them up, and just be held for a little while by their good, good Father in heaven. I look so forward to the day when my faith becomes sight and I will be with you forever and ever. Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King!