September 15 Devotional
Opening Prayer: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. - (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30
Journal: In what ways are you weary and burdened? What does it mean to take Christ’s yoke upon you? How will that give rest to your soul?
Reflection: I don’t know about you, but the very sound of these words does something deep within me. They make something come to life. They make my soul stand on tip toe. They cause something to leap deep inside. I guess it is because my soul longs for true rest. The word used here for rest is anapauo, which means to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength. How’s that for a definition?
Our souls also long to be filled. Therefore, our lives are one long movement in the direction of pursuing our deepest longings. The problem is that we stop too soon—too near the top. When we taste something that tastes good to our soul, we assume that that is what our soul was made to be filled with. And so there we go, charging off in the direction of that person or that thing, trying to extract something from them that they were never fully intended to give us. C. S. Lewis said it so well when he said: “The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.” (Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis) In other words, the deepest and most wonderful things of this life were never intended to fully satisfy us, but to point us forward—to God.
We also stop too soon in our definition of rest. Most often, when we hear the word rest we think of bodily rest, and rightly so because that is a significant part of the picture. Bodily rest is important and effects everything else about us. But it is, however, only a part of a much bigger picture. For the rest that Jesus is talking about here is much deeper. Jesus is offering us soul rest. Our soul is the deepest part of us. It is our essence, who we really are inside, our innermost being. And it was made to be filled and brought to life by God and God alone: And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7) That is the part of us to which Jesus is offering rest. Deep soul rest that gives us the freedom from running around desperately trying to have our longings met by people and things that were never intended to fully meet those longings.
So when Jesus invites us to, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, he is offering us an invitation to leave behind all of the ways we are trying to perform (weary), and to let go of the heavy load of trying to achieve (burdened). He invites us to stop chasing after recognition and affirmation and connection and security—from anyone and anything under the sun—and turn to him. He is inviting us to take up his yoke. He is inviting us to have all of the deepest longings of our hearts and souls met in him, no more running or posturing or jockeying. That is what will give us real soul rest. So come.
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Paul and Dori Pittman currently serve as area directors for United World Mission’s Latin America region. Paul is also project coordinator of UWM’s Cuba Partnership Project. Pray today for them as they are traveling in the U.S. this month.
Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM) provides emergency shelter and food to homeless men and women and offers recovery for those seeking a way out of drug and alcohol abuse. Pray today for the staff and volunteers of KARM.
Closing Prayer: May you experience grace—God acting in your life, in your thoughts, in your feelings, in your rest. May his face shine upon you. May his shining face lift up over you as you lie down, as you sleep, and give you the thoughts you need to have. The blessing of the Trinity rest upon you and everything you are and do. Let it be so. Amen. (Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard)