Rest for your souls

“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 fill find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

Years ago these words of Jesus breathed life into me during a season of carrying a self-imposed weight of ‘doing’. Now these words have breathed life, pushing on how I once viewed rest and pursued it.

What brings rest to our souls? To your soul?

Sleep is the rest our physical body needs and often our soul. A little R & R often keeps us sane and able to keep doing the work we have to do here. But what truly, really brings lasting rest to our souls?

“Slow mornings” are an extended time I cherish and protect to spend quality time with the Lord, reading His Words, journaling through them, responding to Him, listening, asking, seeking, knocking. This time does bring rest to my soul.

But maybe another rest for our souls does not come from such “practices” but being a part of the actual commission - making disciples and bringing the hope of Jesus to lost hopeless people. 

Our ultimate, complete, and whole rest is in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, Him rising again defeating death, bringing restoration to a broken world. 

What brings rest to our weary souls while trying to live an alternate life in this world - aligning our hearts to God’s heart, to His purposes for us in these days here, giving of ourselves endlessly and tirelessly to the work of His Kingdom here and now.

When I selfishly pursue self, my desires, comfort, ways, my soul is lacking rest and peace. I grow weary of others. I do not want to give but want to receive.  My interest, my days, my time becomes priority over others’. The center focus we thought that would give us success, fulfillment, power, strength - this focus on self is an empty deliverer and deceiver.

As I consider an opportunity to help with a tangible need in Uganda, Africa, I’m reminded of and considering what true rest for the soul looks like. It may feel uncomfortable, uneasy, risky, hard, when we give of ourselves but I can think of no greater joy than bringing the hope and life and truth in Christ alone. We may often be called out of our “comforts” to love others by giving of ourselves. And we are also called to be Jesus right where we are. In our homes. In our work. In our relationships.

There’s such an incredible rawness and radical dependence on the Lord when we step out to do uncomfortable, exhausting things for His Kingdom, to reconcile people to Himself. 

Why do we need a Comforter if we are comfortable?” - Francis Chan

There may be still unrest, chaos, uncertainties, and suffering around you and in your life. But the rest of a soul, the quiet and gentle spirit comes from a soul, heart, and mind aligned with God’s heart and will. A soul at rest with the Lord, no longer fights for its way, its rights, but lays down its own agenda, takes initiative for the good of others and can’t do anything but be the gospel in motion and words.

In Matthew 11, Jesus offers a "yoke" that is different than the law seeking righteous teachings of the pharisees at that time. Jesus offered a yoke free of dead deceitful doing, a yoke of grace, freedom, reconciliation, wholeness, completeness, unending joy! From this He lived a life poured out for others. He walked with the Father allowing Him to fill Him, guide Him, instruct Him, and from what the Lord gave Him to do, He lived out for the sake of others. 

Those in Christ are new creations. Our old nature has been put to death at the cross and we are given new life, a new nature, rising with Christ. We are meant and empowered to live differently. To be about a different agenda and not our own anymore. Yet we often do choose ourselves and our soul is at unrest when it’s not living out what it’s been given new life to do: To know God and make Him known. Maybe the rest our soul often needs is more “doing”, not the empty self-promoting doing of trying to win the favor of God or man, but living out the way the gospel compels us to boast in Jesus and sacrificially give of ourselves to make Him known and for others to come to know Him.

if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:10-11

I know I may not do this well or perfectly and that’s the beauty in it. The more I gaze at Jesus the more His heart becomes mine and I get to journey through the laying down of self more and more each day with Him, in His grace.

May I kneel before Him with tired achy knees, dirty sweat, blistered hands, wrinkly tired skin from pouring out my life and enjoy full rest when I see Him face to face in glory to be with Him for all eternity.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:22

“…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

"I want to be challenged endlessly; I want to be learning and growing every minute. I want to be taught by those I teach. I want to share God's love with people who otherwise might not know it. I want to work so hard that I end everyday filthy and too tired to move. I want to be used by the Lord. I want to make a difference and I want to follow the calling God has planted deep in my heart. I want to give me life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second. " Katie Davis 

"Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure…Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight…Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. …Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? THEN shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:3-12

Carry Your Name” – Passion – Christy Nockels