Come to me, all 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.
Sometimes when I read the Bible (especially verses like this), I trick myself into thinking, "If I can just be a better person, then my worries and my burdens will go away." That is what this verse states after all, right? He will give us rest. While it is true that God gives us rest, it doesn’t mean we have to somehow earn it with self-improvement strategies. I think if my heart is to simply have less worry, trouble, or burden, then I am not going to become any closer to God and I'm not going to get any closer to peace. So how do we achieve the rest that Jesus speaks of here? I think He answers that in verse 29.
When our desires line up with God's, I think we can really discover the rest He desires for us. I think that's what it means to "take my yoke upon you." A yoke in this context is referring to a wooden frame joining two animals (usually oxen) together for pulling heavy loads. I think we can all agree the yoke that the world offers us is HEAVY. We carry our ambition, our worry, our desires, and so much more, onto our backs, and then we wonder why it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. God is offering us a way out of that. He offers us rest by giving us the opportunity to put down our yoke and pick up His. His burden is light because God designed us to make Him the priority. He designed us to give our priorities and desires the backseat to His. That's why we are filled with rest when we put Him first.
I want to challenge you this week to put down the weight of the world and put first the desires of God. We were made to feel freedom when we make God's priorities our priorities. When we follow the commands to love God and each other, we experience the kind of rest only He can give. Rather than striving to be at peace, take time this week to strive to be more like Jesus. We are promised that the natural byproduct of that is indeed rest.