(I wrote this years ago, but it still applies.)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
This verse really speaks to my soul right now. It is exactly what I need. Rest. To put down the burdens I carry around with me. I’m just not sure how to do it.
A couple days ago, I asked God one of my “250 Questions to Ask God.” (I will repost it sometime after this post.) The questions was “Since You know what’s best for me, what do I need most right now?” I had been struggling with concerns and frustrations and disappointments. With God’s silence even. And I didn’t know what to pray for anymore, but I needed to hear something from God. So I asked Him this question. Because I don’t know what I need right now. I just know I need something. And for a couple days, He didn’t answer.
It wasn’t until I started typing this verse for something else that I realized that this was my answer. This is what I need most right now. To set my burdens down, to give them to the Lord and take His burdens and yoke instead. I need to rest from my internal struggles to do more and be better and try harder. I need to just breathe in His peace and goodness and joy for a while.
But I’m not sure I really know how to do this. I don’t know how to really relax and rest. I don’t know how to take His yoke. How to set down the burdens I drag around like heavy chains. What does that mean, really? How do we do it? I need to think about this a bit in my own life right now. What burden do I need to place into His hands, and what is the yoke He wants me to wear? How does it lead to rest for my soul?
I guess for me, one of the biggest concerns that I carry around is that I am going to fail as a mother. That is the role I pour my heart and life into right now. And I always fear that I will fail them somehow. Maybe I won’t school them well enough? Maybe I will make a wrong medical decision? Maybe I won’t nip some bad behavior in the bud before it grows into a character flaw? Maybe they will resent me for the things I couldn’t do or be, failing to notice the good things I did or was?
And I also carry around the concern that my other “Kingdom work” doesn’t matter. Will anyone ever be helped by what I write? Is it full of wisdom and godly insight? Or am I delusional, and is it really full of nonsense and pathetic babbling and whining? Does my contribution matter at all or would others laugh at it? Am I just wasting my time?
Also, I carry around the “What if” burden. What if we get some weird virus or disease? What if the government clamps down on our parental rights or religious freedoms more? What if terrorism strikes American soil again (or maybe it should be “when,” not “what if”)? What if I never really feel light and joyful again, until eternity?
These burdens are heavy and discouraging and they are sucking the life out of me.
But the weird thing is, most of my burdens are not really there. They are shadows of what could happen, but they are not really there. I live under a cloud of fear and discouragement of my own making. I live in fear of the possibilities of what might happen someday in the future. Always afraid that something bad is around the corner. And I “envy” those who really enjoy life. I don’t live life as well as I wish I did.
I know for me it comes from a broken family. From having 4 dads but not really having a relationship with any of them or really mattering to any of them. Not being able to lean on someone bigger than me and trust that they will be there to help me and encourage me. In my life, people leave and don’t care. Trust and enjoying life hasn’t come easy for me. I have to work at it. I have to be deliberate about counting and cherishing my blessings. About leaning on God and trusting His goodness and wisdom. About living in His love.
I really am weary. I am weary of carrying around the expectations and fears that come with raising children. Of trying to have the future all figured out. Of taking responsibility for the things I shouldn’t be. Of trying to shoulder the problems of the world. Of holding myself up. Of feeling like I have to always know what to do. And sometimes, I am just weary of standing on my own two feet.
But no one else is putting this pressure on me. I’m doing it to myself. And I really do need the rest that God makes possible.
And I guess, for me, putting down my burdens and taking Jesus’ yoke means learning to live without fear of all the things that “could happen,” learning to just be faithful to do my job today as best I can, make decisions as prayerfully as possible, and let God smooth out the path.
Last night, I had all sorts of bad events and bad possibilities going through my head. And as one more fear came up, I all of a sudden realized that I was too tired. I had no more energy to be concerned about one more thing. And so I just kinda “gave up.”
I said, “Lord, I can’t worry about one more thing. And so I am going to let You worry about it. I am done. My brain needs a rest.”
And I think this is just what I needed to do. Bad things will happen. And I will have to deal with them when they do. But I cannot live under their shadow before it is time. I cannot carry the heavy, discouraging shadow of a burden that I haven’t even been given yet. Worrying about it won’t stop it from happening, but it will suck away any peace and joy that I feel in the meantime. Worrying destroys the blessings of today, forcing us to carry around heavy chains and burdens that aren’t even there.
Daily, I have to make God bigger than my worries. I have to remind myself “God is good.” I have reminders like this around my house. If I can remember how good He is and how much He has blessed us and how He has carried us (kicking and screaming sometimes) through the hard times, I feel a greater sense of peace. Because I am held in the hands of a big, strong, loving Father.
I’m going to try to live this verse. I’m going to pray that God takes my burdens and gives me His. And His yoke is a lot lighter and a lot less discouraging than the one I put on myself. His yoke is about delighting in Him, counting the blessings, and accepting His love, grace, mercy, healing, and forgiveness. It’s about being faithful, loving, doing my best for His glory, and letting Him handle the results, mold the future, smooth the path, and carry my concerns.
And that sounds pretty restful to me!
What concerns have you learned to let God carry? In what ways or areas has He taught and brought rest? How has it affected your spiritual life and journey?