“Come and sit by me. You look tired. I know there has been a lot going on for you; life has been full-on lately. Come and have a break. Let me show you a more sustainable way to live. I won’t load you up with more expectations; I will help lighten your load. I will show you how to live with a peace-filled heart.” (Matthew 11:28—29 in my own words)
How are you, Sister? Do you feel weary and burdened too? Are you tired from trying to live the right way and doing all the right things? I know what that feels like. I’ve struggled under the weight of that life.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 NIV).
This life of self-denial and sacrifice is a costly life. It is a life of laying down our selfish desires, laying down our ambitions and dreams, laying down control, and taking up a cross—the symbol of death. To be true disciples of Jesus we must die to ourselves, every day. It’s hard. It’s a constant battle between self-will and God’s will. And we are weary from the fight.
But then Jesus also said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV).
Is Jesus talking about taking a break from the cross-carrying for a bit, like a little vacation from self-denial, so we can recover, ready to deny ourselves again tomorrow? No, quite the opposite.
These two invitations—to carry a cross and to find rest for our souls—are parts of the same life of discipleship. I believe it is when we take up our cross that we find the faith to lay aside the heavy burdens we carry. It is when we trust God fully that we can be unaffected by the ambitions, worries and concerns the world (our selfishness) would have us carry. When we carry a cross, our souls find rest.
I have learned to lay my burdens at Jesus’ feet. I have learned to cast my cares on Him. The only problem I have is I keep picking them back up again. Sometimes it’s a few days. Sometimes it’s only a few hours or even minutes. But eventually, I find myself juggling all my own extra expectations on top of the yoke Jesus gave me. Sometimes I even have to put my cross down so I can hold on to all my own baggage.
So, I come back to Jesus, burdens in hand, and lay them down once again. And again.
Take up your cross, daily.
I need a daily reminder to sit at Jesus’ feet; to accept His invitation to come to Him, and to live one more day with the rest He offers my tired heart.
The best way for me to do this is to spend time reflecting on God’s Word each day. I love to read scripture, reminding myself of who God is and what He is like, and take time to reflect on how His truth impacts my own life. This daily discipline keeps the burden light. It keeps Jesus’ yoke firmly on my shoulders and the concerns of the world at the foot of the cross. It helps me find rest for my soul.
I have written a tool to help with this process and it is now available for you as well. It is a four-week guided journal that has Bible readings and reflection questions that invite you to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him each day. The scriptures include Jesus’ teaching, stories He told, people He transformed and invitations He made. I know it will be a blessing to you.
May God bless you as you find rest in His presence.