"Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). I learned this Bible verse when I was a teenager, but never really thought about it. When you're young, rest doesn't mean much to you. Little kids run and jump and hop everywhere; once they've learned to walk, anything less than full bore is...well...boring. "There'll be enough time to rest when we die," was our motto.
Funny what a few years can do to your perspective. Linda and I were up for the better part of the night last night. Morning with its responsibilities arrived as it always does, the day was full, and now at nearly 11:00 pm, I'm finally sitting in bed writing. I'm tired, but weariness is another thing altogether. When I think of the countless people who have been enslaved over the centuries, literally worked to death, I know my tiredness is just that; it's not the bone-deep weariness Jesus addresses in the gospel. When I talk with friends going through chemotherapy and hear them speak of the incredible weariness that comes with the treatment, I know I am blessed beyond measure to have never been thrust into this kind of weariness.
Jesus however, is going even deeper. There is a restlessness that comes from deep within, from the constant labor of trying to measure up, to meet the ideals we hold but never seem to fully attain. St. Paul spoke of the attempt to attain righteousness by the keeping of the law. Psychologists tell us of how grown adults often emotionally wear themselves out still trying to win the approval of parents who have by then died. Constantly having to prove oneself, to measure up to an impossible standard, is an unbearably heavy burden. Jesus' offer of acceptance, forgiveness, and salvation by grace and faith alone is truly good news. Rest from soul-weariness is the best kind of all. Strangely, it takes some work to get there. It's hard to rest! But it's rest we need, and rest Jesus offers. And rest I'll gratefully take now.