Last week was an exhausting one in our house – scary too! We came down with a miserable stomach flu. For the most part, this meant lying low for a few days and watching Netflix. But for our youngest son, who is less than 2, it meant five days without eating more than a couple of french fries. It also meant several trips to the doctor and hospital emergency room to make sure he stayed hydrated.
Taking care of everyone was top priority, but after that came laundry. Loads and loads of it. By the end of the week, I was worn out. Other than those medical visits, I hadn’t left the house in six days, and I was pretty cranky. I desperately needed a time-out. But being a mom who also works from a home office, where could I go?
I was hiding in the kitchen, making a cup of tea, when words of Scripture gently fluttered through my mind, “I will give rest to your soul.” I knew it came from the New Testament book of Matthew because I’d recently read an article about idioms that my mom, Lucy, had written for Bible translators.
If it’s been awhile since grammar class, an idiom is “a traditional way of saying something that doesn’t seem to make sense if taken literally,” my mom wrote. If you’re not familiar with the culture an idiom comes from, it can be confusing. The Bible is full of them, which often makes modern readers scratch their heads.
One that had always puzzled me – and plenty of pastors from the way I’ve heard them try to explain it – is this passage in which Jesus promises to give us rest. He says, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” (Matt. 11:29-30).
A yoke is a heavy wooden rod that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to a plow. Doesn’t sound very light! My mom explained, however, that rabbis often referred to the Law (the countless rules and regulations dating back to Moses that governed how people should live) as a yoke. So in comparison, Jesus is saying that following him is a breeze!
What is his law? Jesus summed it up in two simple edicts, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind… and love your neighbor as yourself,” (Matt. 22:37-39).
That may not drive sick kids to the doctor or do the laundry, but it will make doing those types of things easier. The order here is also important. To exude supernatural love that goes beyond my own natural instinct or ability, I must first commit myself to loving – and receiving – God’s love.
That’s the type of rest you can enjoy anywhere.