I Will Give You Rest

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Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden light. – Matthew 11:28-30

When we hear, or read these words, how can we not be filled with unspeakable joy? Yet here, too, is the paradox of our Christian faith. We know how great the burden of taking on the yoke of Christ would be in this world today. We see also that taking up his yoke can lead us to many crosses in our lives. Yet, deep down in our faith-filled hearts, we know that if we can finally, willingly, follow his example of gentleness and humility in this life, he will fill us up with his love, and our souls will be light enough to fly on wings of joy into heaven when our lives here are done.

We often feel burdened by life. Sometimes it is more than we think we can bear. More often than not, it is the demands of our self-obsessed egoes that place the heaviest weights on our souls. It is when we turn our gaze outward, when we leave the narrow confines of our egoes, in love and service of the other, that we begin to see that our souls are lightened. When we are focused only on ourselves, we see all things as heavier than they are. We take things and ourselves too seriously. We burden our own souls. It is when we forget ourselves and begin to humbly and gently serve the needs of others that we begin to know the lightness of laughter and happiness in our souls. Why? Because it is then that the Holy Spirit enters us and fills us, and strengthens us with grace.

It is when we can say, in all humility, as the Centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my [soul] shall be healed,” (Matthew 8:8) that Christ will lift our selfish and false burdens away from us. We will see them for what they really are and we will leave them behind. It is then that we will be able to take up his yoke and find the rest that our souls desire. We will experience that strange and holy paradox that Jesus so clearly expresses here in Matthew’s Gospel, “For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.