Looking around at the world today, peace seems ever so distant as a worldwide pandemic marches through a second year, political unrest and atrocities are escalating at a terrifying rate, natural disasters are at every corner and the mental health of a weary world languishes.
Relationships and families are strained, bank accounts are empty, careers are up in the air, front line workers are exhausted and the idea of “normal” seems to be evading our reach.
So how exactly are we to find our peace when the world is falling apart around us?
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-33)
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get caught up in trying to understand what a bible verse is trying to tell me and I get stumped by the verbiage. When this happens, I will look over other translations to further glean understanding. In this case, I got tripped up over what “yolk” meant. ( TLDR yolk can mean bondage, burden or influence. More here).
And then I settled on the The Message version of this verse to help me break it down more easily.
Jesus asks, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Who wants to live Freely and Lightly?
Ummm, yes please! Sign me up. I want to live freely and lightly! I don’t want to be tired, worn out and burned out on religion. So how do we get there?
Jesus unpacks his invitation in this verse with a great road map.
Come to Me
It starts with an invitation to approach God. Plain and simple. He gives us free will in this world. We choose whether we want Him in our lives or not. But He REALLY wants to be a part of our lives and makes a point of reminding us throughout scripture how intimately he knows us, how important we are to Him, and how very much He loves us. He created us. He knows our every thought and every tear. He wants to have an up close and personal relationship with us and James 4:8 tells us that IF we draw near to God, God will draw near to us.
WHOA! So, the God of the universe, will meet lil ol me if I come to Him?
Not only that, but He tells us that that He will REWARD us for seeking Him with diligence.
I think it’s safe to say that God came up with the first (and BEST) rewards program!
Walk with Me
Not only is God going to meet me if I go to him, but He is going to walk with me?
You bet your bottom dollar! (what does that even mean?)
“For the LORD your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)
In walking with me, He is going to fight for me!
Now, I admit, I’m a bit of a nerd and when I read this I might have envisioned God in a Marvel type costume, taking names and kicking butt and it got me super excited because who doesn’t love it when good crushes evil?
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
And He is going to comfort me.
The same God who is my ultimate Super Hero, is also right there with me when I can’t get out of bed with depression or in a hospital waiting room, not knowing if a loved one will live.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:2)
He is going to protect me!
Now, this is the promise that I think we are really clueless about because, well, we don’t know the whole story and the author of creation, who was and is and is to come (Revelation 4:8) is the only one who can truly keep tabs on our rescues. That all being said, I have a feeling I make a cat with 9 lives look like nothing and and am grateful that He has my six.
Work With Me
Relationships take work and there is no exception to our heavenly relationships. However, the work of the relationship with our heavenly Father is WAY different than any other. If we hand him the keys to our car that we call life, he will do a
much better astronomically better job of taking the wheel and leading us to our destination without us turning our lives into a demolition crash derby…IF we let Him.
When we COME to Him and WALK with him then we come to recognize His voice more clearly and when we hear Him more clearly,
“…your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. “(Isaiah 30:21)
And then our WORK with Him becomes a concert of love, trust and faith that sets us closer to the work He promised to finish within us.
“You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33)
“Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence. Psalm 105:4)”
Time and again, especially in the last several years, God has been so faithful in showing me His presence when I’ve kept my heart and eyes open for His confirmation of plans that we have prayed over.
Right before Covid took off, we were desperate to find a more affordable place to live. We had been looking to no avail for 8 months, with several doors closing in our faces. We were feeling desperate, defeated and frustrated.
Then, in God’s “keep us on our toes and amaze us” fashion, He swept in and in a matter of 2 weeks, we found a place, won the bid of approval over several others that had looked before us AND the landlord insisted on moving us in early with no rent due for the extra weeks.
To make it even sweeter and reassure us that we were in His good and perfect plan, we got this wonderful welcome over our new house the day we moved in.
By the way, I’ve not seen any skywriting again since in our neighborhood.
“Don’t be weary in prayer; keep at it; watch for God’s answers, and remember to be thankful when they come. ” (Colossians 4:2)
Boy, howdy! I can’t tell you how thankful I am that God opened the doors wide for us to move at exactly the right time. Had we stayed at the previous house, we may very well have ended up homeless, as we lost my income right about the time we moved and little did I know, it would be that way for some time.
“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)
Worry is the weakness of the flesh that keeps me in chains when I take my eyes off of my peacemaker.
Yup, worry is a sin and I dance with the temptation pretty much every time I read the news (hmmmm, maybe I need to rethink my news reading habits more seriously).
That’s when it’s imperative to tap into that yolk business! Easy and light is a tool He has handed us that makes life much easier to navigate.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
Learn from Me
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)
There is a LOT of drama in the bible!
From a literary standpoint, it covers all the bases and then some. There are compelling characters and countless stories with layers of intent that can suck you right in! Every word was scripted with purpose and ultimately, hope. It demonstrates that anything is possible when God is involved!
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
And if you’re not sure about what you are supposed to do in any given situation, it circles right back to our first clue on the roadmap, COME to Him and ask!
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
Spend time with Me
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation3:20)
God wants to go to breakfast with you, or walk on the beach with you. He wants to hear about you day, your dreams, your thoughts.
Yeah, yeah, I know, He’s omnipotent. He already know all the all the hairs on your head, so why bother sharing all of that with Him, and why would He want to take time out of His busy schedule to have waffles?
BECAUSE HE LOVE YOU!
And because living in this fallen, broken world, He knows that a close communion with Him will help us find that “free and lightly” that He promises when we keep our eyes on Him.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:33)
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
When we come to Jesus, we get to know Him better and as we walk with Jesus, we find protection, comfort, direction, and love.
And as we watch and learn from our Father, at least in my own experience, I desire to spend more time with Him and find I can hear His voice and leading more clearly.
When I choose to keep my eyes on Him, I find myself tasting the sweet elixir of the unforced rhythms of grace that scripture describes,
I find peace.
Are you ready to find your peace?
I encourage you to put this verse to the test and see how you too, can find you peace!
Not sure where to start? Try spending 5 minutes at the start or end of your day reading the bible. A great starting place is Psalms or Proverbs. Talk to God! Not sure what to say? That’s okay, He’s just happy to have waffles with you!
Questions? Comments? Leave a note below!