"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
- Jesus (Matthew 11:29-30)
"Thus says the Lord: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls...'"
- Jeremiah 6:16
"Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried."
- G.K. Chesterton
Rest for your souls.
That sounds nice, doesn't it? Take a deep breath and imagine what rest for your soul would feel like. What images arise?
Resting in a hammock at the edge of a meadow, grass waving in the wind as a couple deer walk by.
Sitting under an umbrella at the beach, watching the waves roll in as a breeze cools the salt air.
Walking in the woods on a crisp fall day, your breath fogging the air in front of you as you gaze at the reds, yellows, and oranges painted on the mountainside below you.
Do your shoulders relax as you visualize what "rest for your souls" would look like? Does a smile tug at your lips when you imagine the concept?
And then you open your eyes and sigh. "That sounds nice, but I haven't found any rest. Peace is a pipe dream." You look around and see your struggle. Another day, another burden to carry. Chesterton is right--the Christian life is hard.
But maybe both are right. Well, I know the “rest for your souls” part is true-it did come from the Bible. But I also know few of us experience that rest. We find our lives difficult and full of obstacles. So how can both be true?
Let's look back to sports. Think of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Lebron James. They perform amazing feats of athleticism with routine ease, seeming to barely break a sweat or breathe hard. Taking and making shots from all over the floor. Coming out of nowhere to steal a pass or block a shot. Sorry to mashup my sports, but it’s like Wayne Gretzky said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it is.” They know where to go and what to do before the ball ever gets there.
They move with effortless grace and precision.
We watch them and say, “How did they do it? They make it look so…..easy.”
So, how do they do it?
Sound familiar? Whether you’re trying to shoot hoops, play the guitar, or prepare for life, you’ve got to put the effort into practice so that you can perform under pressure.
The reason we dive deep into the depths of discipline and warfare is to prepare for our future battles. As Uncle Argyle says in the clip, you've got to learn to use your mind before you can swing a sword.
How can you find the easy yoke and rest for your souls Jesus described? As we discussed last week, the first step is through submission. We allow God to have His way, instead of striving to arrange life as we think it should be. Peace arrives when you accept what is and follow where the Wild Goose leads, instead of demanding things to go where you want them.
Rest can be found, starting with submission.
All the other disciplines will follow submission. If you aren’t willing to submit, it doesn’t matter how you pray, fast, or worship. Your actions are empty if you can't bow before the throne and give God His way in your life.
Later this week, we will continue to study the disciplines and spiritual warfare. Like summer training camps focus on blocking and tackling, we are establishing a foundation of sound fundamentals. And when the fight comes, you’ll be able to respond quickly, appropriately, and decisively. You might even say it will come easy to you.
Walking the Path
What comes to mind when you hear the term “rest for your souls?” What would rest look like for you?
What steps did you take towards submission last week? What was your experience like?
Where do you struggle with submission? Where do you find it comes easily?