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Rest for Your Soul

Rest for Your Soul

In Matthew 11:29–30 Jesus spoke these tender and comforting words:

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.

In the New Testament the Pharisees were a bunch of “Legalistic Larrys.” Everything they did came from a place of merely checking off a list because they were “supposed to” and because it made them “look good” — not because they truly loved God or desired to follow Him. In Matthew 11 Jesus was calling those who felt burdened by the overwhelming weight of these legalistic requirements. Jesus was calling those who were tired of carrying their own burdens and trying to meet every expectation through their own strength.

Our gentle and lowly Savior has a solution for those who are weary and burdened. A yoke was a tool used to join two animals together so they could work in unison and share the load of pulling a plow or a cart. Humanity’s tendency to live out of obligation and strive for their own worth was only crushing them. But

  • Jesus’ yoke of discipleship — this idea of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses, and following Him — brings rest and freedom.

Let Jesus’ promise be your guarantee: We do not have to be afraid to be disciples of Christ. We do not have to be overwhelmed by what Jesus calls us to. We do not have to worry about what we will lose when we surrender our lives, release personal control, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus instead. We have a Savior who has extended His hand down from Heaven and offered us salvation. In Christ we have victory. We have the win. We have the ultimate gain, not loss.

  • We do not have to strive and control and plan and manipulate to reach victory, because Jesus has already won it on our behalf.

Sure, we have the option to go about living our lives trying to white-knuckle our way to success and achievement. But as Luke 9:25 asks, what’s the point of gaining the whole world only to lose ourselves in the process? Whatever we might win for ourselves is infinitely less valuable than the eternal purpose and destiny available in God. What we see now and what the world offers — fame, money, success, external achievements — is far less satisfying than what God has for us.

God does not want you to run yourself ragged. He does not want to see you suffer through clenched fists, broken dreams, and disappointment. If you remember anything, remember this: Jesus may have said a lot of upside-down things in His lifetime. He may have ruffled a lot of feathers and said things that sent people into shock. But He did it to make beautiful, committed, and holy disciples out of you and me. He did it to change the game and offer something far better than the world could offer. His teachings only seem upside down because our world is upside down. Ever since the fall, we’ve been fighting with ourselves, with each other, and with the world around us, trying to grab control and impose our will on our circumstances. Jesus’ invitation to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses, and follow Him is actually an invitation to lay down the burden of sinfully trying to control our own lives, and instead, pick up His gift of true grace, freedom, and rest.

When Jesus has your heart, your desires, and your affections, you’re returning to the kind of connection with God that you were created for. There is a greater purpose and plan for our lives when we wave our white flags and say, “Lord, I surrender. I am tired of striving. I am tired of holding on to control. I want a life that is full of freedom and purpose. I want to be Your disciple.”

And rest assured, my friend: God isn’t asking us to release our control so He can “bait and switch” us. He is not out to trick us. We don’t have to worry about being left empty-handed. On the contrary.

  • When our heavenly Father asks us to give up something, He always has something exceedingly better in store.

Space to Surrender

  1. Do you have trouble surrendering all? Or are some things easier to relinquish than others? Why do you think that is?
  2. Reflect on how the three steps to discipleship — deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Jesus — make you feel. What emotions does this stir: fear, anxiety, courage, hope?
  3. How does seeing God’s Kingdom through the “upside-down” lens change your perspective on your story and help you trust Him more?

Heavenly Father, thank You for taking on my burdens and releasing me from striving for my worth. I pray that You would help me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow You every single day. Help me to walk in the freedom and rest that only You offer through surrender.

Excerpted with permission from Surrender Your Story by Tara Sun, copyright Tara Sun Snider.

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Your Turn

We can’t possibly do what it on our own. Life is exhausting! We want to be in control. We think planning, scheming, and manipulating will get us somewhere good but it never does. And yet, denial of ourselves and giving the wheel over to Jesus is not our strong suit… until we remember that He is good. He offers rest and freedom that can be found only in Him! What are you releasing to Him today? Come share with us. ~ Devotionals Daily