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Tired in Trying


Flickr Photo by Fernando Lanatta

After a wind storm took down big limbs and snapped trees in our neighborhood last week, my neighbors and I wore ourselves out trying to get down a heavy wild cherry branch that was hanging dangerously just beyond the reach of our ladder and ropes.

Yet, as I think back on it now, our physical efforts were little compared to the exhaustion that can follow efforts to experience a spirituality that seems beyond our reach.

Am saying this because of a series of conversations I had this past week with Elisa Morgan and Bill Crowder. While recording for Discover the Word, Elisa helped us see some often quoted words of Jesus in a way I hadn’t seen them before.

The words are familiar: They express Jesus’ invitation for tired and over-burdened people to come to him for rest (Matt 11:28-30). They became fresh for me though when Elisa called attention to what our Teacher said immediately before (Matt 11:25-27) and after (Matt 12:1-2).

The subject-link to what followed (Jesus’ explanation of Sabbath-rest law) was easier for me to see than the seemingly obscure words that preceded his invitation to come to him for rest. Yet by the time we were done thinking about the context, I think I better understood why Jesus didn’t just say “come to me” but also “learn from me”.

The rest and comfort Jesus offers us, is what he himself found in his Father.

The Message paraphrase of the Bible puts it like this: First Jesus prayed, “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.” Then, “Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen” (Matt 11:25-27).

With that introduction, The Message, expresses our Lord’s invitation in Matt 11:28-30 like this, “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.”

Again, seems clear to me how important it was that he not only said think “come to me” but “learn from me”— what it means to rely on him— as he learned to rely on the faithful presence, strength, and reach of his Father.

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183 Responses to “Tired in Trying”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    “Take up “your” cross and follow me”…

    I do take a slight offence at the use of “know it all’s” in the place of “the wise and understanding”.

    Is that to mean once we learn something we are considered a “know it all”?

    Spiritually, and in unison with stressfully, speaking what is the difference between resting in the Lord and trusting in the Lord?

    When burdened with our “cross” and the purpose and struggles of life while we may not “rest” from following Christ we can put our worries to “rest” in knowing and trusting in our Lord.

    Using the Disciples as examples none of them went home and sat down on their heisters and said well I can rest now; in fact every cemetery I know of somewhere in their rows of stones are Christians buried with the inscription RIP (rest in peace). Finally at rest and with their Lord.

    For me the Rest Jesus speaks of is encouragement and confidence and assurance; empowerment to carry on with life and its “purpose” for each of us…Our cross.


  • remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Folks —

    Seems to me the weary aftermath of working hard physically is not as draining as the struggle to strain into understanding how to pray for “Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum.” (Matt 11:21, 22, 23)

    As you say, Mart, the struggle to show Jesus to others who refuse to receive the Lord’s deeds of power, like those towns He mentioned refused. We may be struggling to accomplish what is far beyond us. Perhaps this is the best thing we can learn from Jesus.

    In His gentleness and humility we can rest — not quite R.I.P. yet Steve — but bearing lightly and easily the cross where Christ already did the burden-bearing.

    Could it be that the joy of little ones is more convincing to the world than ponderous theological weight? Just asking.

    Blessings all day,