Bible Journaling: Hope in Rest
You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for about four days. I’ve done my journals, but I haven’t managed to get them online. Well, part of the problem is that I’ve been asleep during the time I usually write blog posts. I can’t seem to sit down without drifting off these last few days.I had surgery a few weeks ago–not a big deal–and I’ve recovered well. However, last week was my first full week back to work, and it zapped me. Completely zapped me. Sheer and total exhaustion.
I have this terrible habit of going until I crash. Drives my husband crazy. He’s always asking me why I don’t rest.
God must be wondering the same thing.
Not only does He offer rest, He modeled it, by resting on the seventh day of creation. I like to joke sometimes that God didn’t stop to rest until the job was finished, so neither should I, but the point is that rest was important to God. He established the Sabbath, and later the Lord’s Day as days of rest, but how many of us honor that time?
In fact, a lot of people skip church on Sundays so they can get extra work done before the work week starts. What a concept! No wonder we’re all beat-down tired all the time.
The end of Matthew 11 is often the go-to verse about rest, but the whole chapter is an interesting read. First, John sends Jesus a message from prison asking if He’s the Coming One or if they needed to wait for another. Jesus answers:
Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
In other words, YES! He was the Coming One.
Jesus goes on to compare and contrast himself to John the Baptist, explaining how John was the messenger and He was the real deal. Then comes the rebuke of the cities–Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum. I used to wonder why He brought that up before his inspirational words at the end of the chapter. It felt like something was missing. Had Matthew left something out? There’s even an unspoken question there. Verse 25 starts out that Jesus “answered and said” but verse 24 is a harsh judgment on those cities.
Realizing that this passage is a snapshot of where Jesus was teaching the multitudes who were looking for the coming Messiah, the remainder of the chapter makes sense. Jesus is simply asking them to accept and follow Him. Find rest in Him.
Suddenly, this passage is not about the rest itself or our need for it, which is a more selfish angle.
When Jesus was on this earth, He spent his time preaching and providing rest and hope. A blind man who could look forward to nothing more than begging could suddenly find a vocation and take care of himself. A group of men who’d been exiled from their families and forced to live on the edge of their town because of their leprosy could suddenly return home.
After establishing that, Jesus gave us the ultimate offer of rest–for our souls. Note that this is not rest from a handicap or illness. It’s not rest from a trying situation at work or a difficult neighbor. For the disciples, it wasn’t rest from prison or persecution. It was the rest and assurance that comes from not having to worry about where we’ll spend eternity.
Being weary and heavy-laden is often our own making. We get ourselves in over our heads. The thing is, when Christ is our focus, we’re so busy following Him that we don’t get caught up in a lot of the stresses that wreck lives and lead to those burdens that we cannot possibly bear. We have a different approach to managing tragedy or illness. We have a peace about us that does not make sense to the rest of the world.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
For the journaling:
- I wanted to keep my focus on rest in Him. So, I sketched Golgotha over the chapter, the hill with three crosses, to remind me of His sacrifice that allows me access to the rest for my soul. To emphasize this further, I shaded yellow behind the cross
- I wrote in the margin: Burdens are lifted at Calvary
- I highlighted verse 5 in pink, because pink often means healing, which was a big part of His ministry when Jesus walked the earth.
- Over verses 28-30, I drew a yoke, and in the side margin, I wrote His yoke is easy, to remind me that a lot of the things I put on myself are what get me stressed. If I keep my focus on Him, it’s not ever that bad.