Come to me all you that are weary and heavy burdened and
I will give you rest. (Matt. 11:28)
In the Bible, people came to Jesus for many different reasons. Some people came for forgiveness. Some came for answers. Others came for healing. Still others came to Jesus for eternal life. But in that verse from Matthew, Jesus says you can come to him for rest. That means release from stress, release from overload.
Jesus goes on in verse 29 to promise, I will give you rest for your souls. This is much deeper than physical rest. I would venture to say that your greatest problem is not overloaded muscles. In fact, most of us need to use our muscles more. Most of us are too flabby. Our muscles are not overworked our minds are. Were tired mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You probably need soul rest far more than you need physical rest. You need release from worry, tension, stress, guilt, fear, bitterness, and anxiety. You need soul rest. And thats exactly what Jesus promises you if youll come to him.
Where do you usually turn when youre overloaded? When youre exhausted, depleted, and overloaded, who or what do you naturally turn to for relief? You may be a pastor, but I doubt that your first choice is Jesus. You may turn to food when youre exhausted. You may prop your feet up and turn to television. You may turn to a drink or a pill. But none of these things can give you soul rest. Only God can give you that.
The antidote for your overloaded soul is not a plan for time management. Its not a program for stress reduction. Its not a philosophy on how to simplify your life. Its not a pill. Its a person. Jesus does not say, Come to church. He does not say, Come to small group. He does not even say, Come to the Bible. He says, Come to me. The answer for overload is a person.
This is the exact opposite to what the world teaches. Let me tell you why you get overloaded. Its because youre listening too much to the world. The world will tell you to keep busy, to keep running faster and faster. But when you run at that pace you end up doing things you were never shaped to do. God has wired you up with certain Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences (S.H.A.P.E.) to make you unique. And when you try to do things that you were never shaped to do, youre going to get overloaded and stressed out.
The world teaches that when youre empty inside, you need to do more. If I could just do more then Ill be at rest and at peace. If I could just have more, then Ill be at rest and at peace. If I could just be more then Ill be at rest and peace.
But Jesus said its not a matter of do. Its a matter of come. Come to me. There are no other qualifications than that. Its simply, Come to Me.
The first thing you need when youre overloaded is more time with God. Thats where youll find rest. Thats where youll find renewed strength. To find this time with God, you must get alone so youre not distracted and youre not tempted to pretend or put on a show for other people. Sit before him honestly and start to focus on him. Dont let anything else intrude on this time. Just sit and focus on Jesus. Before you know it, youll begin to sense his grace flowing to you and with that grace will come peace and strength and rest.
If its that easy, why dont we do this on a regular basis? Why dont we turn to Jesus more?
There are two answers for that:
1. We think we can handle it all on our own.
2. We too often forget what God is really like. We forget that God is a loving Father; that God cares for us just like a father cares for a small child. God isnt going to scold you when you come to him for rest. Hes going to love you. If youll just come to God like a little child comes to a father, hell teach you how to really rest. But youve got to turn to him.
Are you exhausted? Do you need rest? Take him at his Word: Come to me, all you that are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.
Until next week,
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
This article is adapted from the series From Burnout to Balance: Restoring Margin to Overloaded Lives.