For me, I’ve never been more tired than when I was getting my master’s degree at John Brown University. My class was the guinea-pig class, which meant we were an ongoing experiment of the limits of human resiliency. The partnership between Kanakuk and JBU compressed a 2-year master’s degree program into a 7-month time slot. On average, I read a book and wrote a paper every 2 days. For 7 months.
For many of you, being overcommitted and tired is “just the world you live in,” right? This is one student’s schedule from Thursday the 22nd:
6:20am- my 1st alarm went off and then the second one went off at 6:25 then by 6:30 I was up and getting dressed and gathering my stuff for school. From 7:00-7:15 I ate a small breakfast then by 7:20 I was out the door heading to 1st hour athletics. And then from 7:30-8:25 I had track practice after track practice from 8:30-8:45 I got ready and dressed to go to school. 8:45 is when my school bell rang in the morning and I got out at 2:30pm. At 2:45 I had more track practice until 3:45 and at 4:00-6:00 I had basketball practice. Then I got home at 6:15 and had dinner and helped do the dishes. After that I did homework and studied for state testing until 8:10. At 8:15 I got ready for bed and took a shower until it was 9:00 and at 9:00 I got in bed and did my confimation bible study. I fell asleep by 9:45pm!!And that was my day!!
Some of you may hear this and think “I WISH my day was that tame!” We are in a fast food – fast paced – fast track – go go go – apply for this – achieve in that – accelerate your learning – kind of world. But don’t you want to know if the Bible has anything to say about being tired?
28 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.” (NLT)
The Message says it this way:
“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.”
Illustration: There are two ways we can think about this message from Jesus:
We have freedom in life & we have freedom in Law
- In Life we are promised rest. This is NOT a promise of the end of all labor. Jesus isn’t a big fan of laziness. What this is saying is that a relationship with God will change the meaningless – the mundane – the wearisome toil into something meaningful. As complicated as life may become, discipleship at its heart is simply walking with Jesus in the real world and having Him teach us moment by moment how to live life His way
- In Law we are promised rest. This is NOT a promise that says you can do whatever you want. This is a freedom from doing what religious people think you’re supposed to do. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of the Pharisees. What this sermon is offering is the freedom from strict religious legalism. For some Jews, the burden of legalism looks like this:
- The Bible says you are not to “cook a young goat in the milk of its mother” (Exodus 23.19). Some rabbis teach that this is really a separation of meat and milk. Which means you can’t eat a cheeseburger. Which means you have to wash a steak knife and a butter knife at separate times.
- The Bible says “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20.8). Centuries of Jewish teachers of the law have tried to define how to honor the Sabbath by not working, which is biblical. Currently, however, a forbidden Sabbath behavior is you can’t tear anything, so toilet paper must be pre-ripped earlier in the week. Another is you can’t form words, so “Scrabble is often considered off-limits (though at least one rabbi allows Scrabble Deluxe, since the squares have ridges, which provides enough separation between letters so that they don’t actually form words.)”
- As crazy as this is, there are adults in our lives that put similar burdens on us to “play church” and “act like we have it all together” and to “smile real big on Sunday morning.”
Application: Jesus says “come to me and I will give you rest.” And later “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Doug Webster says it this way: “His easy yoke is neither cheap nor convenient. The surprising promise of the easy yoke was meant to free us from self-serving, meritorious, performance-based religion. It is easy in that it frees us from the burden of self-centeredness; liberates us from the load of self-righteousness; and frees us to live in the way that God intended us to live…The easy yoke sounds like an oxymoron. Plowing a field or pulling a load is hard work! And nowhere does Jesus promise soft ground for tilling or level paths for bearing the load. What he does promise is a relationship with Himself. The demands are great but the relationship with Jesus makes the burden light.”
When Jesus called his disciples he said “come AFTER me.” When Jesus preached about rest, he said “come TO me.” And what’s more, He said it in a way that means “come NOW!”
Don’t come when you are tired –
don’t come after you’ve worn yourself out –
don’t come when you have nothing else to do –
don’t come after the game –
after the concert –
after the vacation –
after state testing is over –
after you start thinking about college –
after you break up –
after the party –
after you cut yourself –
after your Dad leaves your family –
So I invite you to do nothing.
Because when you don’t have to respond to text messages, or emails, or phone calls, or microwaves, or second hands, or invites, or doorbells, or task lists you can be saturated in the unforced rhythms of grace.