Life in ministry is exciting, dynamic, and at times addictive. Every day unveils new opportunities to share our love for Jesus and the vision for ministry God has placed upon our hearts. Without using reasonable judgement and balancing priorities, the work we do can become a burden.
The original disciples of Christ had their problems with balancing priorities. The disciples were sent out two by two to provide ministry. They came back to Jesus to report all they had experienced. Undoubtedly they were exhausted but ready to jump back into ministry. After all, there were more and more people with disease, sickness, unfaithfulness, and serious problems who needed the healing power of the chosen ones. But Jesus beckoned them to rest: Come with me by yourselves to a quiet( lonely) place and get some rest. (Mark 6:31)
This past month has been one of the most challenging times in the history of our ministry. This devotional is being written on a plane as I return from Colorado Springs and four days of some wonderful opportunities to share God’s word. For the past three weeks, it’s been a busy time for our entire team.
No argument – we are tired! As good football players would say “We left it all on the field.” Praise God! The thoughts I’m pondering go to the statements Christ made in Matt. 11:28-30 about REST.
“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.”
I realize that I long for what Jesus offers – rest for my weary soul. And I’m convinced we all – if we took the time to think about it – would long for rest in our souls, you know, that place in our body and spirit where we can let God’s love, peace, grace, and presence connect with our spirit.
The Greek word “rest” used in the above Scripture is the same word for “Sabbath” that was used in the Greek version of the Old Testament. Vine’s Expository Dictionary says the Greek word (anapausis) means: “it is not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections – of will, heart, imagination, conscience – because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development… It contrasts with the burdens imposed by the Pharisees during the time of Christ.”
The burdens of the Pharisees were likely the extra requirements added to The Law to “help” the Jews keep the commandments, or the letter of The Law. It is so refreshing to think that Jesus does not promise rest by keeping the Commandments in and of themselves, but rather by submitting to His authority (the yoke) and following His way of gentleness and humility.
And when you think about it, isn’t that incredibly freeing? Don’t you find yourself weary from trying to get your way or trying to measure up to some standard? Especially for those of us who are type “A personalities”, there is definite REST in letting go of needing to be right, or having our way, or over-tasking ourselves with too much work.
Jesus offers rest for us at the core of who we are when we surrender. We can be confident that He is walking with us, partnering with us in our journey (the yoke he offers) and thankful that the burden we are getting in exchange for the one we’re carrying will be easy to bear. Sounds like a no-brainer deal to me.
What does true rest look like for you? When was the last time you really took the time to restore your spirit, refresh your relationship with God, and rejuvenate your energies so you can effectively minister it others?
Can you find anytime in Scripture where Jesus was hurried, stressed, or fearful? Think about it. While there were many to be healed and to be converted, Jesus stated on the Cross “It is finished.”