Running from Rest
Running and I have a love-hate relationship. I hate running until it’s over, and love how I feel after a pore-cleansing jog. I find this same pattern in my spiritual life. I love running—coffee dates, writing deadlines, family parties—until I’m too withered to take another step. And I hate the fearful solitude it takes to revive my wilted heart.
So tired and desperate, I dug into Ruth Haley Barton’s, Sacred Rhythms. She has a way with gentle invitations like this, “The most essential question in solitude is How have I been wanting to be with God, and how has God been wanting to be with me?” When was the last time I listened to longings? For the past six month I’ve yearned for a break. Not a vacation or holiday but respite. Unfortunately I’m scared of what lurks behind my nice-girl façade. And I’ve spent the past three weeks of my break running from myself.
But God has a way of slowing me down. He tugs. I run. Unwanted circumstances creep in. I complain. This week was the first time I realized my two-month bout with medical issues isn’t an interruption but a sacred invitation. God has been inviting me to slow down, drop the happy face, and pay attention.
The words in Matthew 11:25–30 tug at my soul. Jesus’ invitation seems tender but provocative, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
His call isn’t to everybody. It’s to those labored and laden. Women who are tired of their checklists, burnt out from people-pleasing, and yearning for purpose.
Rest. That was my answer to Barton’s probing question. I want to be at rest with Jesus, not convincing or impressing but enjoying him. Such a notion sounds good, but how do we get there? Jesus says, “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” (Matt. 11:29). At first glance it seems Jesus is giving us more to do. Trading one burden for another doesn’t seem very freeing until we grasp his picture.
Jesus isn’t inviting us to trade troubles. He’s calling us to dependence. In essence Jesus is saying, “Connect yourself to me. Let me take the lead and do the plowing. You just come alongside and learn.” Amidst a day when Jewish leaders added hundreds of additions to the Law, the idea of trading religion for rest struck a nerve.
This lifestyle is easy and light because Jesus does the work. He reveals, teaches, and transforms. I don’t have to fix my compulsions or update my resume. I just have to come. And for someone who’s a recovering doer that’s amazingly attractive right now.
I hope you’ll join me in the quest to listen and learn. What are you longing for? Jesus just might be whispering, “Come,” to the very core of your soul. Can you hear him?