Two Kinds of Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Come is a Command

This familiar passage opens with a command. We often read it as if Jesus has his loving arms extended offering a gentle invitation to come and find rest with him. But this ‘come’ is a command. Come to me! Come now! ‘Come’ is one of the earliest and most difficult commands to teach little crawling babies (and little puppies too!). ‘Come!’ requires giving up something we thought we wanted, something we were looking for or even chasing after. ‘Come!’ requires a voluntary turn-around we often resist making.

Many times, ‘Come!’ requires the one commanding it to go and literally retrieve the one resisting it- leading them to the place called for. In this case, the place called for is a place of rest. It’s a wonder we resist it so often.

Tired from Within- and With-out

Jesus commands the weary and burdened to come to him. ‘Weary’ means tired from within, exhausted from extended labor and effort. Weary is just flat worn out. Out of gas. Beat.

‘Burdened’ (or some translations say, ‘heavy laden’) means weighed down by a big load- tired from ‘with-out.’ It is a term used in describing ships carrying large amounts of cargo. I can relate to the feeling of carrying large amounts of cargo, weighed down by so many physical responsibilities and even more so, by emotional stress and anxiety. ‘Burdened’ is feeling like I’m sinking under that load. Barely able to keep my head above water. Going under.

Rest #1- A Temporary Rest

 Jesus’ command to come comes with a promise- that He will give us rest. The Bible dictionary says this ‘rest’ means, “to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength.” It is a rest to recover- a refreshment or re-fueling- that will allow us to collect our strength and continue on our journey. Picture the neighborhood convenience store- where we stop to refill our gas tank and often grab a drink and snack- so we can go on about our business for the day. This rest is a temporary rest, and one God created our bodies to desperately need and depend on for daily sustenance and perseverance.

Rest #2- An Eternal Rest

 The rest Jesus offers us here in Matthew 11 is a different kind of rest. There is a rest He offers by extending believers the invitation to enter eternal rest through His death and resurrection. Our eternal rest is found in a person and a place, in Christ Himself and in Heaven where we will one day rest forever in His presence. One commentary describes this rest as “the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells and of which He has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of this life on earth are ended.”

Two rests: One that refreshes and re-fuels us so we may continue on in the toils and trials of this life. And one that comes after all the toils and trials are ended.  

 We need both rests. One to come into as many times each day as needed. One to look forward to. One gives strength for today. One gives hope for tomorrow.

Because of that day, I can face this day.

Because of that day, I can endure this day and finish this day, rest again and face tomorrow.

He commands us to come, weary and burdened, and find desperately needed rest for our bodies and our souls. Will we heed His command? (Or will we run ourselves all the way to empty, stranded on the side of the road, useless to ourselves and our families?)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Building Up or Tearing Down?

Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

This verse begs a compelling question for us as mothers: Am I building my house up? Or am I tearing it down? It says I am fully capable of doing both- and that should cause us all to consider which we are spending our days doing.

I am particularly convicted by the thought that I am capable of tearing my house down “with my own hands.” There are plenty of things in this world that will come and try and tear our houses down, but God forbid it would be my own hands. How could these dish-washing, diaper-changing, clothes-folding, toilet-scrubbing hands be tearing my house down?

The King James Version of this verse reads, “…but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” The Messages reads, “tears it down brick by brick.” The idea is more of a slower un-doing than a total destructive bulldozing. I think it speaks to the little ways we can “pluck” apart our families and homes with two things- our motivations and our mouths.

Our daily tasks and the many roles and responsibilities we’ve been given can be done “for the Lord” (as Colossians 3:23 reads), or they can be done with a selfish motivation. Are we tending the dishes, diapers, clothes and toilets with bitterness or resentment? More out of guilt than out of joy? Are we looking to “pluck” appreciation from those we are serving (i.e. they’d better be grateful!)?

Then comes what I think is our greatest “tearing down” tool- our mouths. James speaks to the power of the tongue and says it can “set the whole course of our life on fire.” (James 3:6). By our words, we absolutely are capable of tearing down those with whom we share our homes. A careless word that stings the soul of a child, a frustrated criticism that cuts to the heart of my spouse, an angry or cold remark spoken in bitterness or resentment.

James goes on to say, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers (sisters) this should not be.” (James 3:9-10). Are my words building up my home, or are they tearing it down word by word, “brick by brick”?

Of course, we want to be home builders. We want our work to be done with God-honoring motivation, and our words to come from encouraging mouths. We want to build a home that protects those inside and where their character and strengths and hopes are all built well to hold up against the destructive forces of this world.

The book of Nehemiah tells a whole story of builders. God’s people were working together to rebuild the wall around their city so they could protect their homes. Their enemies were “very angry” and “they all plotted together to come up and fight against Jerusalem.” (Nehemiah 4:7-8).

So, catch what the determined Jewish builders did. Nehemiah 4:17 says, “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other.” May we be mothers who build up- one hand on our work and, when needed, another hand on our weapons.

There are plenty of enemies working to tear down our homes from the outside. May nothing I do assist them by tearing it down also from the inside.

Jeremiah records a prayer of promise God spoke for His children Israel, and I think we can speak it for ours as well.

My eyes will watch over them for their good.

I will bring them up and not tear them down.

I will plant them and not uproot them.

God will give us all a heart to know Him.

We will be God’s people, and He will be our God.

(Jeremiah 24:6-7).