Has your mom ever put off grocery shopping until the fridge and shelves are so bare she suggests eating popcorn for supper? This is a familiar scenario in my house. When I do finally make it to the store, my car is loaded with bags and bags of groceries. Because I live on a second floor, all those bags must be hauled up a flight of stairs to get through my front door and into my kitchen. To eliminate the multiple trips, I line each arm with a row of plastic sacks, take a deep breath, race to the top, slide them all off again onto the kitchen counter, then collapse!
When I pause to evaluate my schedule, my spending habits, my heart . . . I realize it looks and feels much like carrying an arm full of groceries all at once. I’ve taken on more than I can handle and don’t know what to do (or not do!) next. Have you ever had that feeling?
When the Pressure Builds
Did you know that Jesus’ closest friends had the same problem? No, they didn’t have Grocery Shopping Disorder, but they were human beings with human weaknesses like you and me.
I’ve been reading through the book of Mark, and I’m struck by the tiring, gruesome schedule Jesus and His followers kept. They’re constantly on the move, caring for crowds of people, wondering if they’ll be welcomed in the next town.
Chapter 6 kicks off with this familiar pattern. They’re on their way to their next stop to minister to another crowd only to be rejected in Jesus’s hometown by His own people. Then in verse 7, Jesus sends out the twelve to the surrounding villages and instructs them on what to do, what to take with them, and how to behave while they’re there.
Skip down to verse 30, and you’ll see that the apostles return and tell Jesus all that took place while they were gone. They’ve been preaching repentance. They’ve been casting out demons. They’ve been healing the sick. They’ve been in full-time, all-out ministry mode . . . and they’re exhausted.
Can you relate? Do you feel inundated with:
- Pressures at school?
- Pressures at home?
- Pressures within relationships?
The bad news is you are not alone. But there is good news! The sweet words of comfort Jesus offered His disciples in verse 31 ring true for us as well:
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
Permission to Pause
When you’re tired, weak, and overwhelmed, Jesus gives you permission to rest.
When you’re tired, weak, and overwhelmed, Jesus gives you permission to rest. That’s true whether your heavy load is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. No matter your type or level of weariness, Jesus knows. He’s been there. He was a human, too. And He wants you to fall on Him for rest.
In another passage similar to Mark 6, Jesus said:
“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” (Matt. 11:28–30).
You’ll notice in this passage a word that’s probably not in your everyday vocab: yoke. It’s a wooden beam used to harness together two animals, such as a pair of oxen, typically for agricultural labor. When yoked together, the two animals must pull together to share the weight of the load. Do you see the imagery Jesus used here? He doesn’t want us to be yoked to fear or anxiety or busyness. Instead, take up His yoke. “Learn from me,” He says, “for you will find rest for your souls.”
Sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer, and tell Him what’s on your heart and mind.
Do you long for “soul rest”? To quiet your heart and learn from Jesus? To see that He is gentle and kind . . . to find rest in Him . . . to be willing to lay down your anxieties at His feet and only carry what He asks of you?
Tomorrow we’re going to look at what to do when what’s weighing you down is out of your control. But for today, take a moment or two and simply pause. Sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer, and tell Him what’s on your heart and mind. Find comfort in His Word. (The Psalms are a great place to start.) Sing to Him songs of praise and adoration if you can. And simply rest in Him.