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What is rest?

Is it a good night’s sleep? Is it taking a catnap during the day? Is it relaxing with a good book or a favorite TV show?  What exactly does Christ mean when he says in Matthew 11, ‘Come to me those who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’?

I recently talked to three of my kids about what this means to each of them. Their answers were varied. One said that ‘if I go to Jesus, I will be saved’, another said, ‘my burdens will be taken away’, another said that ‘I will find peace’. I looked at them and then looked at the words and asked these questions: ‘Where does it say in this passage that I will be saved, find peace, or that my burdens will be taken away?’ They looked at me, then looked at the verse and said, ‘oh!, I guess it doesn’t really say what I thought it did’.

It is true that through Jesus we find salvation and it is true that we will receive peace, and it’s even true that he will bear our burdens. But this verse doesn’t say anything about my burdens being taken away, it doesn’t say anything about salvation or peace, but what it does say is that I will find rest if I come to him.

I work hard at what I am called to do. It is also true I am heavy laden–the responsibilities I bear are great. Rest sounds delightful. But how do I ‘come to Him?’. I can’t exactly pop up to heaven for a sit down chat with the Lord. Or travel through time to ancient Israel and meet with him on the shores of Galilee.


Coming to Jesus looks different than that.

It must be a posture of the heart.

It must involve stilling my soul.

It must involve closing my mouth and listening to the voice of the Lord sing his song over me or whisper these encouraging words, ‘I’ve got this, just take the next step, I will catch you if you stumble’.

So I still my soul. I quiet my mind of worries and concerns and anxieties and as I begin to settle into his rest I hear him speak:

‘That’s right, you can do it. Take that step. Oops, you missed the mark and stumbled. That’s ok, just make it right with your son and let’s move on. Good job! You did it! I love you, you’re doing great. I know you’re tired, but I am here, lean on me. Let me carry you for a while. Oh my sweet, you are doing great, let’s sit here and enjoy this vista. Do you see how my breeze flutters the leaves on that maple? They dance! If you look closely you can see their song. Here, rest your head against my chest, can you hear my heart beat? My heart beats with love for you. Let me give you rest.’

And so I take these moments throughout the day. I tune my ear to hear his voice and his voice is ever sweet and kind, even when he corrects he is always kind.

Always gracious.

Always loving.

Always a place of rest. Always.


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