Be Restfully Busy

By Norval Hadley

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. (Matthew 11:28–30)

In Matthew 11:27, Jesus is praying. In that prayer, He speaks more clearly than in almost any other passage of His relationship to God the Father as His Son. He speaks of His unique role in revealing the Father to people. Then He says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Here is a wonderful command and promise to those who are tired in soul and restless. There is a blessed quietness available for your soul. The One who reveals the Father to us wants to give us a rest, best described in Hebrews 4 as a rest like God’s rest on the seventh day of creation, a Sabbath rest for the people of God, wherein we cease from our labors.

While Jesus wants to cause you to rest, He speaks of a yoke. A yoke was the important part of a harness worn by work animals. Can He be speaking of rest and work at the same time?

I think so. There is no absolute freedom from every yoke. Those who want to be completely free often find themselves under an oppressive yoke—of drugs or materialism, of various kinds of poverty, of various desires they cannot control. That yoke becomes a bondage, and those under it find they are not free. Jesus promises, by contrast, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He is saying, “Yoke yourself with Me because My task for you is shared and easy and My burden is light.”

I traveled some with a Swiss missionary to Indonesia on furlough who used to pray for his colleagues back on the mission field, “Lord, keep them restfully busy.” I think my friend knew that the pressure of the work, maybe increased because of his absence, could lead to stress. Therefore, he was praying that his colleagues would do their work with the blessing and help of the Lord to such an extent that work would go well and, in fact, even be restful instead of a burden.

Some have supposed that at Jesus’ carpenter shop, they made the best yokes in all of Galilee. Maybe there was a sign on the outside that said, “My yokes fit well.” This is certainly true of the spiritual yoke He gives to all who follow Him, or as the term “yoke” implies, who work alongside Him in His task. There is an implied warning that if we do not come to Him, we will not find rest; we will be tired, and we will experience an oppressive yoke and carry a heavy burden.

I heard one preacher say, “Suppose I brought before you two people, one who had served God with love and devotion all his life, and the other who had served Satan all his life. You could just look into their faces and know which one has the hardest task master.” So many of God’s people have an independent spirit, which keeps them from experiencing the lightness of depending upon the loving Father, who desires to carry our burdens. When we do not obey His command to yield them up to His care, we will most certainly experience the consequences of our rebellion. Yet, if we will take Him at His word and obey Him, Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Connect with Christ

Prayerfully ask Jesus this question: “Lord, how am I doing with this command?” Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart as you wait before Him with integrity and humility. Take some time (as long as you need) to quiet your spirit and wait before God. Allow this command to sink more deeply into your life.

Jesus, as I sit here in silence before You, please give me a more complete picture about what taking on Your yoke really means for my life. Speak to my heart so that I will know what You desire for me to do to embrace this command more completely and so that Your Holy Spirit can transform me more fully into Your image.

Consider the Command

  1. Have you ever been tired as you served the Lord? Do you think this verse says we will never be tired? Why or why not?
  2. How have you reconciled the biblical commands to work and to rest in your life?
  3. What does the yoke of the Lord mean to you as you deal with this direct command of Jesus?

Praying It into Practice

  1. As you pray, picture the Lord placing His yoke upon you. Do you feel burdened now, or is there a sense of peace and rest?
  2. Confess to the Lord the times you have tried to do His work in your own strength, wearing yourself out in the process. Thank Him for His yoke and ask Him to show you how to find rest for your soul.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, as I consider this command of Yours to take up Your yoke, I am reminded of Psalm 23 and what it means to follow a shepherd who knows where there is water, provision, and protection. Thank You for Your yoke. I gladly take it because I know that it means I am yoked to You. You are the One who carries the load. You are the One who knows where we are going. As I walk through this life yoked to You, You have promised to teach me Your ways. You desire that I learn gentleness and humility from You so that I might find rest for my soul. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your easy yoke and light burden.

Encounter Jesus cover.jpgTaken from Encountering Jesus (C) 2013 by Norval Hadley. Used by permission of PrayerShop Publishing.

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