“Come to Me, you who are weary and heavy laden, 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)
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus extended an invitation to people who were weary and heavy laden because of an oppressive pietistic system the religious leaders had made them carry. The trend didn’t stop in the 1st Century A.D. We can be worn out and worn down by the grind of performance-based religion, the kind where we must constantly prove ourselves to God or earn God’s favor or prove ourselves to religious leaders or earn their favor. Religion that is characterized by the imposition of imperatives (must / ought / should / must not / ought not / should not) is performance-based religion.
We can be worn out and worn down because we are carrying the weight of unrealistic expectations. “Be perfect.” “Be pleasing.” “Be strong.” “Try harder.” “Hurry up.”
We can be worn out and worn down because we are carrying the weight of pressures. “You should be like….” “You should be this way….”
We can be worn out and worn down because we constantly need approval.
We can be worn out and worn down by the weight of our addictions or obsessions.
1st Samuel 17 is one of the most widely recognized accounts in Scripture. The boy-shepherd and errand-boy David volunteered to fight Goliath the undefeated and massively armored giant. King Saul (an uncommonly large man himself and the one who should have been out there facing the giant) put his own heavy armor on David, which was quite an honor. The armor did not fit. It was too heavy and too cumbersome. At the risk of offending his king, David removed Saul’s armor. He advanced against Goliath in his shepherd’s garb, with his shepherd’s staff, a sling, and five smooth stones. This was a perfect fit. David was fighting God’s battle, not anybody else’s. David might have been the only relaxed person in the valley that day, because he was attired in relationship with the living God. He was unencumbered.
What version of Saul’s armor are you wearing or carrying? Are you worn out or worn down because of something a person or people or a system or an organization has loaded onto you? Are you worn out or worn down because of something you have loaded onto yourself? Jesus invites you to take off what does not fit and does not work for you and put on what does fit and what does work for you.
Relationship with Jesus fits you perfectly. Relationship with Jesus is comparatively lightweight because it is made out of grace and love. Jesus calls it a yoke, which was a sort of harness that attached oxen together. As a carpenter, Jesus would have built these yokes, so He would know how to build one to custom fit each animal just right.
Attachment to Jesus in yielded companionship is custom made to fit us perfectly. Coming to Jesus redistributes our load, with most of it unloaded because Jesus never meant for us to carry it. Relationship with Jesus is rest.
David had to remove Saul’s armor. Are you willing to remove your version of Saul’s armor, even when it disappoints somebody? Are you fighting the wrong battles, or every battle, or the right battles but in your strength?
Remove Saul’s armor. Risk disappointing the people who think you should keep it on. Let Jesus clothe and equip You in relationship with Him. It fits and it works.
Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)