By Doug Stewart

Finding Rest for Our Souls

We need “rest for our souls”—and Jesus invites us to find it with him.

Listen to him call to us in Matthew 11:28-30 (New International Version)

“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.”

Why do we need rest for our souls? We are finite and wear out! We run down and get depleted. We easily and frequently get weighed down and become weary, and feel heaviness and weariness in our souls. 

What wearies our souls? Anxieties and fears, anger and bitterness, disappointments and frustrations, guilt and shame, grief and sorrows, that like heavy yokes, we carry with us over time. Jesus invites us to let him remove our yokes, and find new infusions of his own love, joy and peace, to restore and energize our souls again.

(Let’s listen more closely to what Jesus says.)

“Come unto me”

All are invited, and he is near us, with us, waiting for us to turn to him, to remove yokes of our own making from us. 

What draws you to Jesus? What holds you back? 

“Take my yoke upon you”

Jesus invites us to be yoked with him, to walk and work with him, to share our lives with him, as he will share his with us. To live in relationship with him.

How comfortable do you feel being with Jesus all the time—are you attracted to him or do you pull back from him?

“learn from me”

Jesus wants to teach us about the Father, whom we see, hear and meet in Jesus. Knowing the Father’s love, power and grace brings rest to our souls.

Where does your image of God come from? As you think of God, what images and thoughts and feelings come to you? 

“For I am gentle and humble in heart,

Though Jesus is “Lord and Master” of all, he is gentle and humble in heart. He will not exploit, abuse or crush us, or force his way and will upon us; he is not insensitive nor indifferent to us and our weakness and need. He will not give up on us in disappointment, nor turn against us in disgust or anger. He is not hard to please nor live with. 

What do Jesus’ words about himself convey to you?  Do you find him this way with you? 

“and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jesus promises that in him and with him we will find rest for our souls. He will renew us with “grace upon grace,” as often and as deeply as we need him to. There are no hidden disclaimers or fine print to hedge his promise. 

What do you find in your relationship with Jesus? Is it heavy and demanding or restorative and renewing?

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He calls us to follow him, to walk and work with him. He asks more of us than any one, he calls us to lose our lives for him, he holds us to a higher standard of righteous than anyoneyet he says his yoke is easy and his burden is light. 

How do you respond to these words of his? How do you experience Jesus’ yoke?

What do you want to respond to him, to tell him and learn from him?

“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.” (From The Message)