Come to Me
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” –Matthew 11:28
The Oxford Dictionary defines restas: “to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.”
The discipline of rest is important; we see it repeatedly in Scripture. Our Heavenly Father modeled the act of resting in Genesis 2:2–3. God commands His children to rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8–11). The land was to enjoy a rest from all planting and cultivating of crops (Leviticus 25:3–4). Jesus advocated for His disciples to find a place away from the crowds (Mark 6:30–31). Jesus Himself modeled the discipline of rest (Luke 4:42, 5:16, Mark 1:35, and Matthew 14:23).
Resting is not passive; there is much going on that is unseen.
During physical rest, our muscles repair; our brain sorts, processes, and stores memories; hormones rise and fall; and our immune system activates to fight inflammation and infection. During winter dormancy, perennial plants strengthen cell membranes and remake proteins to prepare for regrowth in the spring.
Indeed, Jesus’ example of consistently withdrawing to a quiet place was not solely for physical restoration but for the all-important spiritual restoration that only comes through spending time with the Father. When we practice and prioritize the discipline of rest at the feet of Jesus, we receive the spiritual refreshing, strengthening, and equipping we need to engage whatever we may experience next on our faith journey.
What specifically must we do to experience this rest?
We must come to Jesus. Jesus does not command us to come. He does not force us to experience this rest; rather, He extends an invitation, a welcoming, a warm bidding, to come find rest. This requires action on our part—forward movement to draw near to Jesus and a willing spirit to receive the rest that He offers.
The Oxford Dictionary gives an additional definition for rest: “to be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.” Jesus never declared that He would remove all burdens from our lives. In fact, many places in Scripture indicate the exact opposite. What Jesus does, in the verses that follow, is invite us to take up His yoke.
While visiting Mackinac Island, my husband and I rented a primitive tandem bicycle. I label it “primitive” because there were no gears, which means we would not be able to change into a higher gear to make it easier to pedal up hills or when biking into the wind. My husband and I are fairly avid cyclists, but this was a whole new experience.
My husband was seated in front, and I sat behind him. The first fifteen minutes of our ride were awkward and frustrating. I had to learn to relinquish control of steering and trust my husband to see the road ahead, steering us along a safe route. I also had to learn to fall into rhythm with my husband’s pedaling cadence. Pedaling at my own speed only promoted a slow, clumsy, and laborious ride. However, once I managed to release my control and fall into his rhythm, we propelled forward with ease; the steepest hills and oncoming wind were now not so intimidating.
Likewise, Jesus does not say He will take away our burdens, but like my experience falling into rhythm on a tandem bicycle, when we position ourselves to be yoked with Jesus and fall into rhythm with His leading, our burdens become light. The road ahead is not so intimidating, and we find rest as we spend time in His presence.