If I were a betting man, I would bet that every one of you reading this has at least one thing that is weighing on you. Between health, Family and work, there are enough burdens to fill our emotional and mental rucksacks for days on end.
These surface burdens often mask other deeper burdens that are not as readily apparent. These burdens lurk in the shadows of our hearts and minds. Shadow burdens are the burdens behind the obvious burdens. Things like fear of rejection, anxiety over not measuring up, guilt because of a secret past and grief over failed relationships hide behind the obvious burdens that exist on the surface of our lives. What all of us long for is relief from these burdens. We want rest.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus tells us,“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.”
The immediate context of this statement is referring to the oppression that many in Jesus’ day felt by the laws and rules imposed upon them. This system weighed people down with demands and obligations under the guise of being from God, but were in fact beyond anything prescribed by the Lord.
Instead of weighing these people down with more rules, Jesus invited them to allow him to lift them up. His invitation was personal engagement that brought rest, rest that went deep into the soul.
Our cultural context may differ on the surface, but Jesus’ invitation extends to us as well. We are often burdened with unreasonable work expectations, marital conflict and financial struggles. Many of our burdens, however, go deeper. We fear rejection. We lament things from our past, or even things from our present. These often pile up and make us feel as if the weight of the world is on our shoulders.
Early on in my Army career, I foolishly decided to double the prescribed weight for a unit road march. To make matters worse our commander decided to take the dreaded “sugar sand route” located in the training area of Fort Bragg. By the last mile of the march, I was so burdened with the extra weight I could barely hold my head up enough to see where I was walking.
Upon finishing, I dropped backwards to the ground and crawled out of the straps of my ruck. When I stood up I felt as if I were floating. The oppressive burden of that ruck was no longer there and I had the sensation of being lifted up by an alien force.
Jesus does this. He lifts up instead of weighing down. He takes the burden of our sin and guilt. He calms us with the assurance of his love when we fear failure or rejection. He strengthens us with his grace when we face the reality of repeating that same dumb mistake. Not only this, once we are yoked with him, we find his demands to be light. He gives us both the desire and ability to walk in his ways. Surely David was anticipating this in Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you.”
If you are tired from carrying a heavy and burdensome emotional ruck sack. Give it to Jesus my friend.
You will find rest for your soul.