I have been offered rest, Uncategorized

I Have Been Offered Rest: A Joint Post

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 HCSB

From Jen:

Rest? Ha!

Okay, so Susan and I have been thrust into a couple of hurricane-force schedules over the past few weeks. Our emails have resorted to choppy, fragmented sentences. Exhausted. Can’t see straight. I’m sure y’all can relate, we’ve all been there, right?

So where are these green pastures and still waters Psalm 23 talked about? Where do I get to lie down? And what is Jesus talking about when he says “I will give you rest?”

From Susan:

When ancient rabbis chose their disciples, they picked only the brightest. They’d invite a few straight-A students into their personal disciple-corps with this sentence: “Come take my yoke upon you.”  A yoke, for the non-agrarian among us, was a collar fitted on a pair of oxen so they could pull a plow or cart. A yoke was a burden to those beasts.  And so the rabbis were telling their chosen disciples: “Come, follow my way of doing things. Walk the way I walk.  Put my understanding of our religion on your necks like a yoke.”

But Jesus was a Rabbi of a vastly different sort. He not only offered the invitation to follow Him to everyone (not just a few stellar students) but he told us his yoke would a “light” burden, one that offered rest.

But rest from what? Hectic schedules?  Trials?  Sorrows?  No.  He made it pretty clear that those sorts of burdens will assail all of us, whether we are following Him or not.  The rest Jesus was talking about here was freedom from all the religious rules and regulations, from legalism.  Instead of trying (and failing) to keep a zillion laws, we disciples of Jesus need only to believe in Him, resting in the Work he accomplished for us on the cross.

So what does that mean for Jen and me during our weeks of frantic flurry? For me, it means that yesterday, the Christian Sabbath, I didn’t get zapped. I broke the Sabbath, you see.    I had a huge editing assignment due, and I simply had no other time to do it.  So instead of resting after church and reflecting on God, as the Jewish laws would tell me to do, I got to work, earning money and keeping my commitment to a client.  It’s not my habit to do that.  I usually don’t.  But yesterday … well I didn’t have another choice.

I’m so thankful my Rabbi put a yoke of grace around my neck so that even when my schedule exhausts me, I have rest in Him.

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

I Will Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. Psalm 23:5-6

Jen and I are both aspiring authors.  We’d love to write novels and see them published, and we’ve both done quite a bit of research as to what it takes to make that happen.  The most crucial element?  A great story.  And most literary agents will tell you that readers don’t want a downer of an ending. They want your characters to live “happily ever after.” 

I’ve struggled with that a bit, because it seems that more often than not, real life doesn’t hand out happy endings.  Too often, real people close their days with Alzheimer’s, cancer, tornados, and school shootings.  Too often, their last breaths are taken in the valley of the shadow of death.

But David didn’t end his psalm there.  He marched right out of that valley onto the hilltop of triumph. “God, you are going to give me a banquet right in front of my enemies, and they’ll have to watch me eat it.  You will give me so much good that my cup will run over.  I will live in your house forever – happily… ever… after.”

Surely, even in David’s day, the majority of folks didn’t party until the end of their lives.  I think David is looking further into the future than just this earthly life.  I think he was looking all the way into Heaven. There, finally, all believers will get their happy ending. There, quite literally, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

My parents recently moved into a retirement facility.  While they were trying to make the decision, they had to weigh their desire to stay in their own home against some health issues. My mom told my dad, “When I look down the road, I don’t see things getting better.”

My father smiled. “You aren’t looking far enough.”

May I be as far sighted as King David and my Daddy.

I am Guided by the Good Shepherd

He Leads Me ….

He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3, HCSB

I settled into the saddle, took up the reigns and held my breath.  My mule was about to step into the Grand Canyon, and the first bend we rounded caused me to cry out, “How beautiful!”  I couldn’t help myself.  The morning sun turned the red rock to fire, the depth was dizzying, the patterns amazing.  That canyon deserved praise.  To see it and not verbalize its beauty was unthinkable.

How much more does the creator of the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and Victoria Falls deserve our praise?  His name is worthy of anthems and orchestras and poetry.  And, just as I’d love to show you the splendor of the earthly places I’ve seen, God wants to display his own splendor to the people He created. He wants them to revel in His beauty and lift up His name.

And so, He does something that perhaps we don’t think about much when we read the 23rd Psalm.  He guides His sheep along paths that will glorify His name.

But sometimes, the sheep don’t like it much. We’d rather pick the paths that glorify our own names, or at least give us some comfort and luxury.  I mean, won’t a good shepherd want the best for fluffy little ‘ole bleating me?  He’ll guide me in the path of a nice, air-conditioned home, a lucrative job and excellent schools for my children, right?

Not necessarily.  Those aren’t His goals when he picks out my paths.  His goal is to bring glory to His own name. That means He may send this sheep to dirty, hot, hungry places to tell others about His love.  That means he may allow me to suffer in the short term so that my trust in His redemption so impresses those around me that they, too, glorify His name.

And, in the future, we will see that those sojourns on the difficult paths not only glorified God’s name, but also made us into stronger sheep.  And when we step into heaven, our reward awaits us – the reward of the Good Shepherd to his faithful flock.

So, choose my path, Faithful Father.  And guard me from complaining when it doesn’t suit my fancy.  Keep my eyes on You, not myself.  May Your name be glorified on every road my hooves walk.