I came to Sweden for rest.
That much I know.
That is why I feel resentment with every tug of stress on my soul: every fleeting thought about upcoming travel arrangements or finances. (I guess this is how moms feel when they have a few hours of alone time – possessive and defensive.)
I know what waits for me back home. I know I will hit the ground running, and it feels like this is my only chance, so I squeeze my eyes shut and will my spirit to rest. And it refuses.
Turns out rest is not found in eyes squeezed shut, or new cities, or even magical coffee shops. Any of these things might be the river beds through which the streams of rest run, but they are – in and of themselves – powerless.
Finding rest in God is not a formula. It is a promise. A free gift.
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. (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV)
I just finished reading a Spurgeon sermon on Matthew 11:28-29. Tucked away in those verses are the promise of rest and the revealing of its enemies: three culprits that are to blame for our weary souls.
Here’s the first:
#1 Working to earn your worth
We cannot earn worth through our jobs. We cannot earn the approval we crave through better parenting. We cannot earn the respect, love or peace we long for through the perfect body or mind or house or ministry.
Maybe the reason kids or ministry or work – all these great blessings – feel like such burdens is because we are laboring to earn our worth through them.
If your justification is found in your performance, then making a mistake at work will threaten your very identity. It won’t be something you can learn and grow from, it will be something you carry with you into the night, into your relationships.
Of course you will work overtime, obsessing over un-finished emails, irritated with those who get in your way and you will find yourself devastated by mistakes. Your soul is at stake.
If you are looking to your kids to make you worthy of acceptance, then parenting will become impossibly overwhelming. Every time your kid disobeys it will feel like an act of war on your value instead of an opportunity for discipleship.
You will tuck the kids into bed and feel like you spent the day fighting for your soul, because that is exactly what you did.
If we are carrying the burden of earning our acceptance, then anything that sabotages our ability to perform will trigger panic. We will walk around feeling a constant burden, that cannot be removed by vacation.
Jesus’ words are simple and clear: Stop laboring. Turn away from those things as your source of acceptance, and trust in Him completely. He will give you the gift of acceptance, approval. Come.
Repentance and faith make up this “Come”—the repentance which leaves that place where you now stand, the faith which comes into reliance upon Jesus…
We come to Jesus; we put out the empty hand of faith, and rest is given us at once most freely. We possess it at once, and it is ours forever. – Spurgeon