“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
I begin with these verses because I want you to see that there is a fundamental difference between the way we do things and the way God does them. God had a plan and a path by which He led His people through the wilderness. They never dreamed of walking across the Red Sea. But that was God’s way to get them to the place where He wanted them to be. They never dreamed of depending on God for bread to fall from heaven day by day. But that was God’s way. They never dreamed of getting water from a rock, but that was God’s way.
When God calls you, it is not up to you to choose the path by which you travel to that place. You need to go God’s way. As a matter of fact, unless you go God’s way, you will never get there. The children of Israel wandered for forty years in the wilderness because early on in their journey, they didn’t want to go God’s way.
Our ways and God’s ways are often totally opposite. Let me give you an example. Just say you wanted to get some much-needed rest. How would you do that? Perhaps you would take a few days vacation, and go down to the beach, and just bake in the sun. But a vacation might not be your idea of rest. Your idea of rest might be sitting with your feet up in a recliner, while taking a nice nap. Some feel most rested after a routine of vigorous exercise. I like to get my heart pumping and feel those endorphins kick in! When I finish a good long workout, I actually feel rested. All of us have our own method to rest.
However, what is God’s way to rest? What is the route by which He leads people to the blessing of His rest? Jesus extended the following invitation in Matthew 11:28-30.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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. Matthew 11:28-30
That is Jesus’ personal invitation for you to find soul-rest. But how to you get to rest from where you are? It might surprise you. In order to answer that question, I call your attention to what Jesus said just before He issued that invitation to soul-rest.
At that time, Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this waywas well-pleasing in your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Matthew 11:25-27
Did you notice the ‘way’ Jesus mentioned? He called it a way that was well-pleasing to the Father and a way in which Jesus Himself is able to reveal the Father to those whom He chooses. To whom does He reveal the way to rest?
He reveals it to infants. That is the way of God. That way is well-pleasing in His sight. What does Jesus mean? Should we bring the bed-babies into the sanctuary, and let them hear from God? No! God is not talking about little babies. He is talking about mature adults. What would it take for an adult to become an infant? What happens when an adult goes back to diapers having to be spoon fed and cared for by someone else? Do we call them an infant? No! We call them invalids!
The way of God is to reveal Himself and His rest to those who come to the absolute end of themselves.
They are not wise in their own minds. They have come to the end of their wisdom. They are not strong people. They have come to the end of their strength. They are not righteous people. They have come to the end of their righteousness and have discovered how sinful they are.
Infants are totally helpless. They can’t feed themselves. They can’t clothe themselves. They can’t help themselves. They are totally dependent on someone else to provide what they need.
The way to rest is to realize the point of utter exhaustion. I didn’t say that it was rest. I said it was the God appointed way to rest! Before God can give you rest, He must bring you to the end of your self—the end of your strength—and the end of your resources. God can only give you His rest when you are ready to receive it. You will never be ready until life leaves you weary and heavy laden. It is then you realize you can’t make the journey without help from God!
These are the people to whom Jesus extends this invitation. They are weary and heavy laden. Life has worn them out. They are not able to go on physically, spiritually or emotionally. They are worn out from worry. They are worn out from stress. They are worn out from sin. They are worn out from sickness.They are worn out from sorrow.
Perhaps you feel like you are on the verge of some kind of collapse. But I have good news for you. You are on the verge of rest!
On the other hand, you might who feel as if you have life by the tail. You are the wise and intelligent that Jesus talked about. You don’t need Him. You will never need Him—unless He brings you down the road to rest. The road to rest for you will involve a major crisis in your life where you will run out of answers, out of wisdom, out of resources, and out of strength.
Maybe you’re there right now. You find yourself in the middle of some crisis You can’t go on. You don’t have any hope.
Even though you stand in the middle of a crisis, I suggest that you are on the verge of the sweetest rest and the sweetest peace you have ever known. Look at the invitation that Jesus gives. There are four parts to this invitation.
Come to Me. Submit to Me. Learn from Me. Receive from Me.
I don’t know where you go to find rest. Maybe you go to the beach. Maybe you escape your exhaustion by numbing your mind with some drug until you go to sleep. Maybe you think if you just worked harder and longer, you could fix it all and you could rest. The wise and intelligent will always seek a way of their ownto find rest. But Jesus said that in order to find soul-rest, you must travel God’s way. God’s way is to become an infant, an invalid, totally helpless and totally dependent. It is those standing in such a position to whom Jesus calls, “Come unto Me.”
Have you heard Him whisper those words to your heart? “Come to Me!” Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” John 6:44
How is it that God has been drawing you to come to Jesus? More often than not, God brings a man to a wilderness experience in his life, stripping him of his strength and his pride, until he is ready to come to Jesus.
But there is more. You must submit to Him.
He says, “Take my yoke upon you.” A yoke is an instrument of labor. In those days, one ox was yoked with another. Usually a younger ox was yoked with one already trained. Both of them pulled the weight of the plow or the weight of the wagon together. However, in order to be yoked, an ox had to bend its powerful neck. It had to submit to the yoke.
Are you willing? Do you dare bend your neck and bow your knee before the Lord Jesus today? Why would you want to do that?
Do you ever get to the end of your day and wonder why you are so tired? Do you wonder sometimes if you will be able to get out of bed the next morning? Have you been to the doctor and gone through a battery of tests to find out the problem? I can tell you what it might be.
It might be you are trying to carry that load of stress and worry all alone. You are pulling the weight of it all, and it has worn you out. Jesus is offering to help you shoulder the burden! But before He can, you must be willing to submit to Him.The best of us come to the end of our own strength. Let me tell you the story of Derek Redmond.
Derek entered the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona Spain. Derek was a champion. He broke the record for the British 400 meters when he was only 19. Injuries kept him out of the 1988 Olympics four years earlier. ’92 was his year. Derek’s dad made the journey to Barcelona to watch his son run. In anticipation, Derek’s dad took a seat near the top of the Olympic so he could have a clear perspective of the race. The stadium was packed with 65,000 fans, all sitting on the edge of their seat as the race began.
Derek took an early lead, rocketing past the competition. But with only 175 meters left, Derek stopped as if shot and fell to the track. His left hamstring was torn, and Derek was in agony.
The race was over for Derek. Emergency personnel ran toward him with a stretcher, but he motioned them away. And then, in a moment that became Olympic history, he rose to his feet and began hopping on one leg toward the finish line. Tears streamed down his face from pain and disappointment. The eyes of 65,000 people were fixed on him. Although everyone else already finished, Derek kept hopping along. As he did, the crowd slowly rose to their feet.
But no one noticed what was happening way up in the top of that stadium, Derek’s dad was making his way down. He pushed himself past people, oblivious to their presence. As the crowd cheered Derek onward, Derek’s dad jumped over the fence, dashing past security guards and out onto the track. He knew Derek would never make it to the finish line on his own.
Jim Redmond reached his son at the curve of the track with 120 meters still to go. He wrapped his arm around Derek’s waist, and father and son finished the race those last 30 meters together. Much of the time, Derek was crying on his father’s shoulder. As they crossed the finish line together, Derek fell sobbing into his dad’s arms with many in the crowd sobbing with them.
You and I are in a race we will never finish alone. We need to be yoked with Jesus so that He can give us His strength. Have you heard His whisper, saying, “Come to Me. Submit to Me?”
He also said, “Learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.”
That younger ox, his neck now bent, in submission, willing to be guided and led, is yoked with the older, more experienced ox. Now, he simply must follow his lead.
God brings us to the end of ourselves, not so that He can tell us the way to go, but so that He can connect us with Jesus who knows the way.
The way to where? The way to rest! The way to relief! The way to an absence of struggle or stress or worry!
In the yoke with Christ, I no longer shoulder the responsibility—it is His. I don’t have to know the way. I have only to follow Him—to lean on Him, to learn from Him, to allow Him to bear the weight of that which has worn me out.
In reality, getting in the yoke with Christ, is taking off the yoke I have been wearing around my own neck. It is being set free from the burden’s I have been carrying. It is relief and it is rest.
Finally, I hear Jesus saying to those of you who have come to a point of total helplessness: “Receive From Me.”
He says, “I will giveyou rest.” It is not earned. It is not something you strive for. It is not won in a contest of wills. It is given. It is something that you receive from Him. His rest is like the air you breath. It is easily acquired, and it refreshes the spirit, soul and body.
You don’t need a vacation. You don’t need more sleep. You don’t need less hours. You don’t need less stress. You need rest, and it is only found in Him.
Some of you have already encountered these verses this week. It may have been in your daily devotion. You may have heard them on the radio or read them from your Bible. Whenever God puts His word before me again and again, He is trying to tell me something. In this case, God is trying to give you something—something He could only give you when you come to the point where you are right now—the point of absolute exhaustion.
When the point of absolute exhaustion becomes the point of absolute surrender then Jesus will give you REST.
Photo by Scott Webb