Rest 休息. (Matt. 11:28-30)


Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you have ever been on an extended vacation, whether it be on a cruise ship, hotel, mountain lodge, or the beach, there is a point in time you relax. That moment when you sip a cup of coffee, look out into the blue ocean or at the mountain lake, take a deep breath, and for the first time, feel unhindered. Picture in your mind the place you last recall experiencing this level of peace. What ushered the sense of rest? The lack of family demands, work, or other commitments?

As followers of Christ, why do we struggle with a sense of rest? Mainly when the Word instructs us not to concern ourselves with the things of this life.[1] To not be anxious about anything,[2] to cast our cares on the Lord, and despite the world’s demands, He will sustain us.[3] Two significant reasons.  


Firstly is our horizontal focus, relationships, and interaction with people and the world. The small battles we face each day at work and with family. We experience the consistent struggle with the world’s chaos—the level of uncertainty, political and economic strife because it demands our time, attention, and participation. However, despite work and the world, Jesus reminds us that “life is not about an abundance of possessions,[4]” and the stark reality that this world is passing away.[5] As John Ortberg reminds us, as did the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, “it is all going back into the box.” [6] We cannot take anything or anyone with us.

However, we struggle to maintain the tangible. We surround ourselves with the things, activities, or accolades that unfortunately create the stress we seek to avoid. But we are still not at rest. Why? Because we fail to recognize our most valuable possession is not a tangible thing. In short, it is time and how and with whom we spend it. Again, picture the place you last recall experiencing this level of peace in your mind. Wasn’t it the quality of time spent with people or time you spent alone with the Creator God?


The second, and arguably the most important, is our vertical focus. Our relationship with the Lord. Are we giving our lives to things destined to disappoint and disappear?[7] Where’s our heart? What does it worship? However, amid these daily struggles, we fail to realize that work, finances, and other things of this world block our relationship with Him. Are these things blocking your connection? Indeed, what, or who is the “center” of your life? Is it the Lord? He is the only one who can help us determine our lives’ content and the secret of contentment. We need to sift things that cost valuable resources. Therefore, we need to redeem the time. Redeeming the time necessitates redistribution and prioritization.

How? By learning to design margin in our lives.[8] Above all, begin by change. Start simple and simplify. Prayerfully ask for wisdom to examine our horizontal relationships and our vertical relationship. Stop and take an honest personal inventory. Then analyze things, events, and desires through the lens of the Word. Are there weeds growing? Ask Him to show what they are and to give you the strength to change, adjust, and prioritize. Ask, and He will.[9] As you change, you downsize, synthesize, and prioritize. The result. Margin and peace. More time to invest in your vertical relationship and horizontal relationships.   


Take the first step. There’s hope, not condemnation.[10] Certainly, pause, stop, contemplate, turn, and trust Him to show you where to change. Trust him to strengthen your relationships through the expenditure of time. Will you trust Him? Can you afford not to? Stop, take a deep breath. Turn around, and focus.

He is there.[11] Give it to Him. Because He can handle it.[12]

Take a deep breath. Now take another and slowly let it out. That was your first investment.

“Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves  because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matt. 11.28-30 (GW)

[1] Matthew 6:25-34

[2] Philippians 4:6-7 (See, also John 14:27; Luke 12:25; 1Peter 5:7; Proverbs 12:25)

[3] Psalms 55:22

[4] Luke 12:15

[5] 1 John 2:17

[6] John Ortberg, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, Zondervan 2007

[7] Mark 8:36-37

[8] Richard A. Swenson, Margin, NavPress, 2004

[9] James 1:5-8 GW

[10] Psalm 34:22 (See, also 1 Corinthians 11:32; 1 John 3:21; Romans 8:1)

[11] For further reading. John Ortberg, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, Zondervan 2007; Richard A. Swenson, Margin, NavPress, 2004.

[12] Matthew 11:30

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