Come, Find Rest
I’d had it. Something had to give.
As an author, pastor’s wife, and mother of three, my days were jam-packed with good things; but I regularly found myself overwhelmed by these good things. I regularly found myself agitated, anxious about my abilities, and short-tempered. When I lay down to sleep at night, my mind would race. When I got up the next morning, I felt no more rested than the night before.
For a while, I thought that better scheduling or learning to say “No” would resolve my restlessness. When that didn’t work, I figured that the problem was other people. If people would just stop asking me to do stuff for them, I could finally be at peace, I’d fume.
But one day, I turned to Matthew 11:28-29, the passage where Jesus calls His followers to come to Him for rest: “Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Yes! Yes! Yes! I thought. This is exactly what I need. I’m so tired, so worn out, so weary. But the passage continues in an unexpected way. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart.”
Now, I’d heard plenty of sermons about taking Jesus’ yoke, but somehow, I’d missed the second half of His invitation. Jesus isn’t calling us to shoulder another burden. He’s calling us to become humble like He is humble. “Learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart,” He says.
But if rest comes through humility, did that mean that my stress might be the result of pride?
For those of us busy doing good things, we rarely think that pride could be the source of our restlessness. After all, we tend to think of pride as a self-centeredness or arrogance. But that’s not us. We’re busy helping other people. We’re busy serving.
It’s true that pride often manifests itself as self-centeredness, but sometimes pride manifests itself as self-reliance. When God made us in His image, He made us to be people of good works, productivity, and relationship. But He also made us with limits so that we would learn to depend on Him. Pride tells us that we don’t have to live in these limits. Pride tells us that we can skimp on meals, short-change our sleep, and cram our days full of responsibilities and still be fine. Humility teaches us that we must submit to how God made us, learning to rely on His power to accomplish what we can’t.
When Jesus came to earth, He took on the limits of being human. He humbly submitted himself to the boundaries of a physical body and entrusted Himself to the Father. If we want to experience the rest He offers, we too must embrace God-given limits, surrendering ourselves to His power.
When I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 11, I didn’t want to believe that pride could be contributing to my restlessness. And yet, the truth was inescapable. When we try to live beyond our God-given limits, we will have nothing but stress and anxiety for the simple reason that we are not living as God intends for us to live. But when we embrace our limits, when we live humbly dependent on His power and His care, we will finally find the rest that our souls so desperately long for.
Hannah Anderson lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She is the author of Made for More and the newly released Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul (Moody). You can find more of her writing at sometimesalight.com, hear her on the weekly podcast Persuasion, or follow her on Twitter @sometimesalight.