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There’s a scripture passage most of us know well, but I don’t think we really live it. At least, not on a daily basis. Not in our everyday experience. Though we hear this passage often in church lessons and social media posts and conference talks—and we certainly love the way it sounds—I’m not so sure it’s true for us personally. That we’re actually tasting for ourselves what the Lord is offering us in these 3 simple verses. Give it a read and see for yourself: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). Take a minute to ponder Christ’s invitation in these verses. As you do, I want you to really think about your life—about the general tone and feeling of your everyday experience. Then tell me: Would you characterize your life mainly as one of rest?
Before you answer, the kind of rest we’re talking about here isn’t just a few peaceful moments scattered amid the chaos. If you look again at those verses, Jesus is describing a deep and lasting soul rest. In fact, He says in other scriptures that His rest is something we can actually “enter into” (Moroni 7:3). So again, I have to ask: is that anywhere near your personal reality? Or are you more familiar with exhaustion or overwhelm than the rest Jesus holds out to us in this scripture?
If so, why do you think that is?
Honestly, for most of us, I don’t think it’s a question of our love for the Lord. Most people I talk to just have so much on their plate. Life is complicated, and our burdens can feel incredibly heavy—not easy or light like it says in that passage. We’ve got bills to pay and kids to feed and appointments to keep. We’ve got financial woes and rising costs and troubled relationships and cancer diagnoses. And we haven’t even mentioned our lengthy spiritual to-do list yet. I’m guessing you know the list I mean: Go to church, magnify your calling, get to the temple, take food to the neighbors, plan that activity, work harder at ministering, attend ward council, feed the missionaries, do your family history. For Latter-Day Saints, the demands and responsibilities go on and on. With all these expectations pressing down on us, we may think that the only way the Lord could offer us rest would be to take away all our challenges and difficulties. But that’s not how life works, is it? As we end up burnt out or wiped out or stressed out, our lives feel nothing like the picture Jesus painted in Matthew 11. While He definitely spoke some beautiful and calming words in that passage, we have to admit that we’re not really living that way at all. Our daily experience often seems a million miles away from anything remotely resembling peace and rest.
So, what do we do with Christ’s invitation? Was He telling the truth, or just being unrealistic? Was He out of touch with the demands of modern-day life?
Or was He talking about a very real possibility—a supernatural ability, given through His atoning power, to live at rest right in the middle of all the craziness? To know a kind of deep and lasting soul-peace, no matter what circumstances life brings our way?
Ponder that thought for a minute. What would life be like if such a thing really was possible? To enter into this very personal sense of soul-rest and stay there throughout every single moment of the day? What would you give to take Jesus up on such an unbelievable offer?
It really is possible, you know. After years of studying this passage from every different angle, I’m convinced that the Lord meant exactly what He said in Matthew 11. We really can enter into His rest, not just every once in a while, but in a way that transcends any kind of stress we experience in this life.
What’s more, because Christ calls it “my rest” (Alma 12:35), that means it goes far beyond anything we could muster up ourselves. His rest can fill us whether we’re in stuck in traffic or calming a screaming baby or trying to meet a pressing deadline, overflowing our soul with more peace than we can even begin to imagine. It’s a miraculous and mind-blowing gift available only through the Savior of the world.
But I need to warn you: Receiving this awe-inspiring gift will involve a bit of a journey. For starters, it will require us to unlearn our old ways of living, and replace that worn-out lens with a brand new, Christ-saturated paradigm. “Come to me,” the Lord said in Matthew 11. “Learn of me.” It’s only way we’ll move from a life of stress to a life filled with His supernatural, soul-restoring rest.
If you’d like to learn more about the rest of Christ and journey required to enter in, I’d invite you to check out my new book, Aren’t You Tired? Embracing the Lord’s Call to Enter His Rest. I promise you with all my heart that it’s a journey worth taking. For as Jesus taught the ancient Israelites, His “rest is the fulness of his glory” (D&C 84:24).
Put simply, the glory of the Lord awaits you. And it brings not only stress-calming, mind-soothing rest, but also an unbelievably bright, radiant, joy-filled, soul-expanding, laughter-bringing happiness that will take your breath away. Perhaps it’s time to learn how easy and light our Savior’s yoke can truly be.
Find out more at jaciwightman.com