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Come to me


 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Here’s a daydream I had the other day…

I was on the 7.15am from Richmond to Waterloo. The train was reasonably full. No one looked happy. Everyone was staring at their phones and scrolling furiously through social media and news feeds. Heads down, masks on, worrying about the day ahead. Stressed, weary and burdened. I then wondered what would happen if I asked everyone on the train to raise their hand if they felt weary or burdened. I imagined all of them. The daydream continued, “keep your hands raised if you would like rest for your souls?”. All hands stay in the air.

If I were bolder, I might actually have done this, although I suspect it worked out far better in my head than in reality. But it got me thinking, who wouldn’t want to accept this invitation, especially in this day and age? As I read this passage my heart aches - yes please Jesus, I’ll have some of that! For me, these words are like the embrace of a parent to a young child in distress.

In these verses, we see that rest, learning and work are closely linked. Rest in this sense is not simply being removed from life or being whisked away to some exotic beach (although, I wouldn’t mind the latter!).

A yoke here refers to a farming implement used to brace animals or people pulling or carrying a heavy load. Its purpose is to balance the burden, to let one another take rest, to lighten the load. The yoke is a work implement. We will have to work and fight battles in life, but the point here is that Jesus is side-by-side with us carrying the load.

Whilst this use of ‘yoke’ does conjure up images of work, the powerful thing to note is its purpose to guide. A young Ox would often be yoked to an older, more experienced Ox so that it could be guided and learn from it. This is powerful stuff: let it sink in for a moment, that Jesus promises to walk with us, sharing the burden and guiding us on the right path. If you let this truth settle in your heart, it has the power to change how you go through day-to-day life.

All of a sudden the crisis at work, or the difficulties in your personal life take on a new meaning. We are not alone and we are not abandoned. Remember this the next time you’re on your commute, or stuck in traffic or feeling the world closing in on you: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this wonderful truth that you give us rest, carry burdens with us and set us free by your teaching. I pray that this promise would take root in our hearts and that we may find rest for our souls.

James Thornton, 13/10/2021