Redefining Rest: No Longer a Vacation
What Does Rest Look Like?
Students long for summer. Employees long for a paid week of vacation.
Rest often means time without work. We can finally shut off the computer, put away the homework, and leave the chores for later.
We crave the weekend. We crave a break. Sometimes, we crave a life completely without work.
To the world, rest might be lounging on a pool chair or napping in front of the TV. I’m all for vacations. In fact, I just had one, and it was spectacular.
But vacations end. The stress starts back up, and we long for another break.
What if we looked at rest differently? What if we defined it not as a vacation, but as a shared burden?
In Matthew 11, Jesus is declaring His thanksgiving to God for the right definition of rest.
“I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will… Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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” (Matt. 11: 25-26, 28-30).
Jesus starts by thanking God for His willingness to stoop low to make Himself known. God presents Himself in the most humble way – as a baby born among humans – and reveals His wisdom not to those with clout and reputation but to the most humble: His children.
God unveils His wisdom to those who come to Him.
After thanking God for His readiness to make Himself known, Jesus then redefines rest. He explains that those who come to God will not only find wisdom, but they will find that their burden is lightened.
According to Jesus’ declaration to the Father, “rest for our souls” happens when we share our problems, stresses, and issues with Jesus.
I used to think rest meant that we could live for a time worry free until it was back to reality.
If rest is only a temporary break, then it always leaves us feeling overwhelmed with make-up work and inboxes full of emails.
Instead, we should redefine rest not as a vacation but as a shared burden. Jesus doesn’t call us to a life free of work. He doesn’t want laziness.
There is still a yoke and burden to bear, but it’s much easier when we don’t have to carry it alone. We can trade in our stresses for the yoke of Christ, which is gentle and manageable. Plus, we don’t have to walk alone.
This new definition of rest doesn’t leave us with a stack of paperwork.
Rest means that we can live in a perpetual state of shared responsibility. We don’t have to buckle down and attempt to outperform those around us. We don’t have to scramble to prove ourselves.
We can rest in Jesus, knowing He’s got it under control, and He wants to share in our burdens.
So the vacation ends. We fly home from paradise. We encounter another Monday.
But the good news is that when we look at rest as something we can have every day instead of as a vacation day, we no longer have to drag our feet.
We can come to God and find wisdom and rest for our souls. He makes Himself known to those who come near. He wants those who “labor and are heavy laden” to come and find rest.