Have you seen the new “Captain Obvious” commercials playing during the NCAA basketball tournament lately? (Of course you have!) At the moment I can’t recall what this character is supposed to be selling us, but he does an entertaining job of poking fun at the political circus that is our presidential election process. Sometimes the easiest targets for jokes are the most obvious.
With that in mind, let me target an obvious shortcoming that is a struggle for many of us, myself included. We stink at resting. Most of us know it, too. And the inability or unwillingness to rest is epidemic among Christians these days. We don’t know how to rest. We don’t when to rest. We don’t know if we’re allowed to rest. We feel guilty when we do rest. We feel exhausted when don’t. Sometimes we’re not even sure what real rest even is.
If so, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to consider as we approach this Easter weekend:
We live in a society that cherishes never-ending work hours, over-filled calendars, frenzied families, and constant stress. When asked how I am, I’ve often responded with, “Busy,” wearing that answer like a badge of honor.
The obvious problem with this is that we have a hard time reconciling our cultural value of busy-ness with any picture of following Jesus that we actually read in the Bible. To be sure, Jesus had plenty to do, and his followers had more than enough ministry and life to keep themselves occupied. But Jesus knows our souls need rest, or we will wilt from fatigue.
Come to me, all 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11: 28-30
Jesus trained his disciples. He taught them, and he sent them out on mission to proclaim his Kingdom and minister to others. He also invited them to rest. Looking at these verses, here are two brief insights to keep in mind as we approach our Easter worship.
- “Come to me…”
When Jesus invites us to rest, he calls us to himself. Here’s the truth that is so simple that it seems silly how often we forget. Your soul is made to find rest in the Savior. A couple extra hours in bed may rest your body, but your soul will not be replenished. The golf course, the deer stand, or the lake may relax your mind, but they will not refresh your soul. Netflix marathons or mandatory family days may drown out some noise and chaos, but Jesus is the one who gives true rest.
So how do we rest? The first step is simple. We go to Jesus. We pray; we sing; we read Scripture; we meditate on Scripture; we worship – alone and with our church family. The key is that we go to Jesus, not away from him.
- “Learn from me…”
Did you notice that when Jesus invites us to rest he doesn’t tell us all about what he’s going to do for you. Instead, he connects our rest with understanding who he is. “Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Gentleness and lowliness don’t fit well in our calendars. Yet Jesus assures us that our souls’ rest and replenishment depend on learning from him.
We learn from Jesus by listening to Jesus. He speaks through his Word, and the Holy Spirit applies his truth to our souls. And when that happens, you find that rest your soul craves.
So here is my suggestion for this Easter weekend. Let your soul rest. Yes, it’s Easter, and there will be some craziness. You have family plans, soccer games, and visits from egg-laying rodents to coordinate. That’s ok. Canceling everything on your calendar won’t heal your soul, anyway. Our plan for rest will have two parts.
Part 1 – Come to Jesus. Make it an unchanging priority that you will worship. Worship in private. Worship with your family. Worship with your church. All three of these are given to us in the Bible as God’s good gift for the care of your soul.
Part 2 – Learn from Jesus. Listen closely as your pastor proclaims the Word of God this weekend. But don’t listen only to get the next three steps to solve your problems or feel better. Listen for what the Bible tells you about Jesus. Learn who he is, what he loves, and what says. Meet him in that gentle and lowly place, and see if you don’t taste a bit of that peace that surpasses understanding that every one of us craves.