Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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15 Resting in the Redeemer Part 1

Matthews 11:28-30 “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.”

Back in the 60’s it was predicted that advances in technology would radically change the number of hours a week people would have to work. It was estimated that the average American would be working 22 hours a week within 20 years. They believed that the great challenge then, would be to figure out what to do with all the excess time. Here we are over 40 years later, after major advances in technology and how many of us are wondering what to do with all the excess time on our hands? Our technology in many ways has actually served to enslave not free, instead of being untethered we are actually tied. Our world has become that of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” Do you feel like this? Humor me for a moment and lets do a little quiz together, just fill in the blanks:
I’m ready to throw in the…
I’m at the end of my…
I’m just a bundle of…
My life is falling…
I’m at my wit’s…
Stuck in the rat…
Amazing how many phrases we have and how many you know. Life in the relentless rat race
can wear us out, just when you think you might get ahead, along come faster rats. But remember even the one who wins the rat race is still a rat! Yet we were not called to be rats but the Redeemed. Unfortunately our lives have become filled with going and doing, accomplishments and appointments, so there is no slack in our schedules to stop and be still. We have become more consumed with our calendars than Christ. The sad truth is that His body has become a busy body, we may be busy but are we blessed? Our schedules have stolen our solitude and stillness, robbing us of rest. Yet we are not alone in the business of busyness, or the first to become trapped in its web of lies, Jesus spoke to this very issue over 2000 years ago. In Matthew 11:28-30 His words peirce our weariness, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The call of Christ is to come, when your heart, mind, and the inner depths of your soul are worn and weary, when it feels like you are carrying the weight of the world, flooded with physical and mental distress, when the demands of others overwhelm, Jesus calls us to come.
We need the call of Christ, the call to come to Him, but will we heed it? Yet the problem with Matthews 11:28-30 is that we hear His words just not His voice, its one of the most famous yet misunderstood and most ignored passages of scripture in the bible. Are you being dragged through life? Today Jesus is calling you to stop running and start resting, recovery is only found in the rest that the Redeemer offers. When Jesus says “I will give you rest” He is providing an opportunity for pause, and we need Him to press the pause button in our lives. His call goes against the culture, in our industrialized society we are pushed to be productive, we see pausing as a problem. We hear the words but do we really rest? Jesus offers us the promise of pause but
we have been programed to see pausing as a waste. His call is problematic to our “productive” society. Even as I write this I am confronted with a culture that calls me to accomplish something. The irony is that I am actually on a retreat in England at an abbey along with others also seeking rest, but here was the question posed to me this very morning at breakfast, “what do you have on your scheduled today?” To which I replied “nothing.’ This was greeted by puzzled looks, and that awkward unspoken silence, yet filled with the loudly disapproving body language of “oh that must be nice” In those moments of perceived disapproval by our peers many of us immediately felt less than, as if it were our turn to clear some imaginary bar of achievement and we failed miserably. My immediate thought in the past would have been to try and think of some sensible schedule I could blurt out in the desperate hope of rejoining the group. Me the marooned moron isolated on my island with “nothing to do”, shouldn’t I dive in and frantically thrashing around in a desperate attempt to swim back to the sensible ship of schedule, and once on board find something to do and get on with it. In the perceived disapproval of our peers, when we feel like we don’t measure up many of us are moved to go because of guilt. Of course this uncomfortable silence only lasted a moment before someone loudly proclaimed, “well we better get going as we have a lot to do today”, like an unspoken agreement they all got up and left. I was abandoned to my nothing as they hurried of to do! We may think we are not driven by our culture but even in a place built for rest we feel the need to run, to do instead of be. To stop, to truly listen to the Lord and pause means swimming against the current of culture. The supposed waves of progress beat and batter our bodies, pounding our minds and swamping our souls. Its in the storm that Jesus offers stillness, a rest for the stressed, a refreshing for the soul. In Christ’s call we often miss the three commands that lead to rest.

Jesus regularly invited people to come to Him, to meet their needs. Jesus did NOT say, “come to church to find rest” We often forget that Christianity is about meeting Christ personally. Going to McDonalds does not make you a hamburger, going into a garage doesn’t make you a car and going to church does not make you a Christian. You become a Christian in that moment you answer His invitation to turn from your own ways and come to Him. The question is can you look to a time when you decided to answer His call to come. Some of you my say “but my life is a mess, I’m not ready, but His invitation is to come as you are, come one come all. We often waste time trying to clean up our lives before we come to The Lord, we want to present a healthy, holy and happy person, but what does Jesus say “come to Me, all you who are what “weary and burdened” Jesus is calling me not because I’m wonderful but because I’m worn and weary, the Messiah is ok with my mess. Jesus is saying I know you, you are bankrupt, you have nothing to offer, come anyway. But in our pride we want to come to Jesus with something more than a broken weary soul, we want to come with strength. But Jesus doesn’t need our energy we need His! Don’t miss the command here, its not just a call to come its a call to come to Christ. I’m not saying don’t go to church, I’m just saying when you come to Church are you looking for Christ? Its only in relationship with Him that we find real rest. Today many come to church but fail to come to Christ. If you feel like your not good enough your right your not, its not about being good its about grace. Jesus will meet you where you are: If you’re hungry, “Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger.” John 6:35. If you’re thirsty, John 7:37-38 says, “on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ’From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” John 5:39-40 reminds us that eternal life is found in Jesus, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life’ The search to satisfy our needs on our own leads us down many empty and lonely roads. How many are stranded today on the empty highway of self satisfaction, or security, on the road paved with personal self help books, where the only sign posts point us to read just one more with the promise that then we will be better! This is the time consuming and tiresome search of the soul, coming up empty after all of our effort and this is what Jesus is speaking to. God has a gift to give us, the gift of spiritual rest. It is rest for those who have labored and experienced the exhaustion of self effort. Jesus is speaking to our conscience, to those of us trying to balance the scales of good works vs bad. Those trying to be accepted by God and acknowledge for their good and great deeds. But when it comes to the banking of the soul according to elf effort you will never know the true balance of your account at any given time. Human effort falls far short of God’s standard, that is why God sent the Savior. The cross is the place of exchange where what I am is placed on Him and what He is, is given freely to me. Only when Christ is credited to your account will you know the true balance. It is also a rest for those who are heavy laden, burdened under the heavy weight of sin and self. We living in a society that promotes living for yourself, our progress is measured by our possessions, prominence and pleasure. Here we find another desolate road, where enough always falls short, a road that keeps going but never arrives. Drawing us further into the wilderness, only to discover there is always another hill of progress to scale and more possessions to procure. Jesus is calling to those lost in the wild expanses of progress, possession, power and pleasure. His words couldn’t echo any louder in our “evolved” society. I look around and see that there is a hole in the soul of my generation, like a vast army of lost locusts, consuming yet forever empty. Lonely they wander in search of something more, filling their bellies on a culture of consumerism while they choke on the bile of their burdens. A generation who have inherited the American dream, lets be honest here we didn’t earn it, but what good is it, we have it all and we have nothing. Disillusioned and depressed, they are the walking dead, living empty joyless lives, like zombies shuffling along through life.
It is to these that Christ calls, what we really seek is not possessions, position and power but peace. We grab at other things in a vain attempt to satisfy the soul, but what we hunger for in our inner being, what the soul desires to pursue is simply peace. In Jesus the penalty has already been paid, you can have that peace, you can begin life anew and have the page wiped clean. God did not send Jesus to rub our sins in, but to rub them out. He bore the guilt and paid the penalty, today don’t just hear the words, hear His voice, Come and rest in the Redeemer.