Finding the Soul‑Rest Jesus Offers
“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.” Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
Rest can feel elusive. That which should make us feel rested often doesn’t. Consider waking up after a restless night and your first thought being how early you can go back to bed.
Propping your feet on the coffee table after a long day of work and turning on “Fixer Upper” could make you feel rested. But it doesn’t. Because now you wish you had an urban, country, industrial-styled farmhouse. Dissatisfaction taps on your heart and the restlessness begins again.
Vacations really should be a time of rest. But after working overtime to get ready, then the rush of the vacation, and working overtime to make up for being gone, restful is not how most of us would define vacations.
I’ve struggled with the biblical definition of rest for years. I was never sure what God really meant when He asked us to rest from work on the Sabbath. I love to work; did that really apply to me?
Yes, it does. But God always wanted more for us than to stop working. If the only definition of rest we know is the absence of work, then we have missed the fullness of God’s gift. God wanted physical rest to lead to spiritual rest.
In our key verse, Jesus invites us to a deeper rest … a soul-rest:
“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” (Matthew 11:28-29).
I love that Jesus identified our common condition of weariness without specifying how we got that way. This way, the promise of rest applies to all of us.
But Jesus wasn’t talking about physical rest; He was inviting us to a rest that is all-consuming. A rest we feel in our minds, bodies and spirits — this is soul-rest. And the only place we will find this rest is Jesus.
Soul-rest is deeper than any other kind of rest I’ve experienced. It’s not circumstantial, nor does it need to be renewed. Soul-rest, rather, has its roots in something unshakable. It is rooted in faith and confidence that we’re deeply and unconditionally loved, held safe in the arms of our heavenly Father.
Soul-rest comes when we trust God fully, which is quite different from merely saying we trust God. Words will not give us the rest our souls long for. Trust will.
When we declare Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, meaning He’s not just someone we read about in the Bible, something changes in us. And when we think and live like He is worthy of our complete faith and trust, then we start to experience the soul-rest He offers.
My journey to trust Jesus has taken my entire life. I’ve always loved Him … believed He was who He said He was. But trust?
I don’t give my trust easily. People have betrayed me. I’ve betrayed myself. So, my trust always has a “yes, but …” attached to it when I give it to a person.
But God is utterly trustworthy. Each time I deliberately choose to trust God, fear loosens its grip on me. Anxiety recedes. Stress melts away. Worry doesn’t consume me. I am a different person than I was 10 years ago because of this soul-rest that comes from trusting Jesus.
Today, Jesus invites all of us who feel worried and burdened, from whatever has made us feel overwhelmed, exhausted and guilty, to come to Him.
And oh, how my soul stirs at this invitation from Jesus. This is the rest my soul longs for; it’s what I was made for. To know with certainty I am loved, cared for and protected. Not just on earth but for eternity.
Knowing this gives my soul an anchor, and quiets the striving, relentless part of me that seeks security and significance.
This is the message that will give each of us the abundant life Jesus offered. Not abundant with work, but overflowing with love and filled with the true soul-rest we long for.
Lord, thank You for providing a rest for my soul that’s not attached to a person or experience. You created me for this rest, and I accept it now. Help me fully trust You with my heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 23:1-3a, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” (NRSV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is making you weary and burdened today? Have you trusted yourself or a person more than God in this area?
Spend some time in prayer presenting this burden to the Lord, asking Him to help you trust Him more.
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