Some time ago, I took my wife on what was supposed to be a very restful, romantic getaway to Asheville. I had it all mapped out. The plan was to visit a place called The Max Patch along the way and then drive in to Asheville for dinner at one of our favorite places, Tupelo Honey, for sweet potato pancakes that are out of this world.
We were going to stay the night in Asheville and then visit the Biltmore the following day.
The Goal was Rest and Refreshment
Everything was going great when we arrived at The Max Patch in the early evening. We took a short hike and savored a stunning 360-degree view of the mountains in the Pisgah National Forest. It was spectacular. Then, we watched the sun-set brilliantly over the mountains, and we hiked back down just in time to head out for our special dinner. We had timed it just right where we would make it to Asheville in time for our dinner reservations.
Here’s where our restful, romantic getaway took a very surprising turn.
When we returned to our vehicle, despite numerous attempts, the van would not start (I mean nothing!). Because we were in a National Forest, our cell phones didn’t work, either. At this time, it was dark; it was late October, and we had no coats and no other accommodations. We were completely stuck.
I hadn’t planned for a night of camping (and we’re not campers!). What was supposed to be a restful, romantic getaway, turned in to a very uncomfortable night in our van, as we were freezing together and we ended up splitting a rock-solid cliff bar for our dinner.
There was no rest for the Coopers on that getaway outside of Asheville!
No Rest Outside of Christ
As we make our journey through the ups and downs of life, God regularly reminds me that there is no true rest outside of Christ.
The only way to find spiritual rest is by coming to Jesus. In Matthew 11, Jesus invites all who are weary to come to him for that rest.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (v. 28-30)
Notice that Jesus does not invite the “wise and learned” (v. 25) but the weary and heavy laden (v. 28). This is good news for the weary. Your weariness qualifies you to come to the Savior for rest.
Jesus offers ETERNAL REST for all who seek forgiveness for their sins and freedom from their guilt. He invites us to come to him and rest from all our endless, fruitless efforts of trying to save ourselves through works of the law.
But this rest is also a PRESENT REALITY: All who are burdened by sin and suffering in this fallen world can come to Christ. He is a Just Judge and a Gentle Savior. He’s not mistaken about your condition: He is the Judge. He knows everything. He knows your condition exactly, so you can go to him honestly.
All Who Are Burdened Can Come
The invitation is universal. It is extended to ALL who are weary and heavy laden. None of the troubled are excluded.
To the weary mom who is pouring herself out day-in and day-out, morning and afternoon and evening, whose work does not stop and whose efforts are often met with no thanks and no immediate rewards, Jesus says, “Come to me and I will give you rest.”
The illness that goes on and on and on, the pain in your body that just won’t go away, the pain in your heart that never seems to heal, the grief of the loss of a loved one, the financial stress, the slander of those who disagree with your decisions, the loneliness you feel even in a crowd, the betrayal, the rejection of people you love, all of it we can bring to Jesus for rest.
Whatever the situation, whatever the sorrow – Jesus says “COME to me and I will give you rest.” What a gentle Savior!
He can give us rest because he is gentle and lowly in heart. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. In his service, pain is pleasure, and “he makes any condition comfortable” (Richard Sibbes).
This rest doesn’t mean that we don’t work. It means we take Jesus’ yoke as we work (not the yoke of slavery, but the yoke of sonship, the yoke of complete acceptance and full pardon and absolute approval in and through Jesus).
There is no rest outside of Christ. Oh, but in Christ, there is a continual fountain of refreshment and rest for every weary soul.
He is our rest and our righteousness. Let us go to Him to find rest for our weary souls.