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. Matthew 11:29
Our plane had finished climbing to 30,000 feet and the pilot quietly announced that we were now free to move about the cabin, but my eyes were still tightly closed in prayer. No – I wasn’t just being religious – I was really terrified of flying! But on a six hour flight it is hard to pretend that you are sleeping for very long. When eventually, I opened my eyes, I noticed a young Chinese man seated across from me, gazing out his window in delight. We struck up a conversation and I learned that he was coming from Hong Kong to the United States and that this was his first time on a plane. The difference between His joy of watching the clouds and the scenery lay in stark contrast to my dark fears. Though I truly believed that if I died I would be with Jesus, I was still gripped by anxiety and my neighbor’s obvious joy made me feel ashamed.
He was enjoying the kind of rest that in our hurry towards Christmas, we all need to remember. Maybe we miss God’s purpose of rest because we feel that with any sort of inactivity we might be missing out. But God is at the controls of our lives and has given us complete freedom to move about the cabin and find rest as we delight in seeing where God is taking us on our journey.
We would be a lot more at ease if we remembered that Jesus patiently lingered nine unhurried months in the waiting room of Mary’s womb. Shepherds learned the Good News of great joy as they rested with their flocks. Even after Jesus was born, He rested in the place the Father had put Him while He was growing up in the tiny village of Nazareth.
In fact, Jesus had brothers and sisters with whom He had to share a straw mattress on the floor and eat the same simple family meals that Mary cooked. Never once does the Bible record a complaint, or reveal an attitude of impatience with him. Jesus simply waited for the day when His Father’s work would begin and He rested in the place where he was. Maybe it was there in Nazareth where He was taught to give thanks for bread and fish. While taking care of his chores He learned to wash feet for visitors, celebrate weddings and handle wood and nails. Then He patiently and painfully endured the cross for us, all the while resting in the thought that the end of hIS journey would be perfect. then before the resurrection Jesus rested three long days in the tomb. That same Jesus who could take a nap in a boat in a storm now invites us to also come, put our trust in Him and celebrate rest for our souls forever!