Sounds great, doesn't it? So why don't more of us experience that rest that Jesus offers?
One reason is because we ignore the very next thing Jesus says: "Take my yoke upon you ..." (Matt. 11:29).
Interesting. A yoke is a thing that you put around the neck of an animal to make it work. So Jesus is saying, "Come to me, and I will give you rest ... by making you work." That doesn't make sense at first glance. But wearing his yoke is the key to finding the rest that Jesus offers.
How does taking on a yoke give you rest? Well, there are three advantages to being yoked. First: When you're in a yoke, you're focused. An ox in a yoke has only one thing to do: pull the plow. We, on the other hand, are constantly distracted. So many choices, so many options, so many things we think we have to do. We are pulled about by competing priorities and unrealistic demands. Wouldn't it be great to have some focus in your life? That's one of the advantages to being yoked.
Another advantage: When you're in a yoke, you're not alone. Notice that oxen work in pairs. They work in community. And when you wear Jesus' yoke, you have the opportunity to connect with brothers and sisters who will help you carry your burdens.
Advantage number three: When you're in a yoke, you're doing work that fits. A yoke is designed to fit the ox that wears it. It's shaped just right to distribute the weight and make the load bearable. When you take on Jesus' yoke, he will give you work to do--but it will be work that fits--work that's designed for you. Maybe one reason we're so stressed out is because we keep doing work that doesn't fit. We try to wear yokes that weren't designed for us. In effect, we try to be somebody we're not.
Jesus says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me ... and you will find rest for your souls" (Matt. 11:29). In order to experience the rest that Jesus offers, we have to take on his yoke. Submit to his leadership. Let him be in charge.
Here's an idea. Sit down and make a list of everything you're trying to do in your life right now: all the commitments you've made, all the projects you've got going, all the activities you're involved in -- your whole to-do list. Then look at each item and ask yourself,
Does Jesus really want me to do this?
I bet you'll find some things you can take off your list.
Because Jesus didn't come to give you an unmanageable to-do list. Jesus came to give you rest.