Rest or Control: Pick One

“At that time Jesus said … ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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'” (Mt. 11:25a, 28-30).

Sounds so easy–and is so difficult. If you’re anything like me, you want to read Jesus’s words as: “Just ask, and I’ll make your life run simple and easy according to your preferences.” When I plead repeatedly for His rest, and my best-laid plans continue to smash into one obstacle after another, it is so tempting to accuse God of ignoring His side of the bargain. The last thing I want to do is admit that I may have neglected the larger part of my own side.

Control freak that I am, it’s a hard blow for me to realize that Christ’s yoke is exactly that–His yoke–and that He brooks no attempts on my part to remodel it according to my own preferences. I am the clay telling the Potter He doesn’t know what He’s doing, the canvas whining that the Master Painter is making an ugly mess, the Israelite daring to tell God I’d rather be in the misery of Egypt without Him than in the misery of the wilderness with Him. How many times have I effectively–and on occasion actually–said, “God, if You won’t do things my way, I don’t see any advantage to having You in my life at all”?

A couple of weeks ago, I twice in three days went into a long inward “You never do anything for me” rant at God over traffic detours and drawn-out speeches that messed up my carefully planned schedule (never mind that they didn’t exactly make me late, I wanted to arrive at my preferred hour, period). Two days after the second tantrum, I was clobbered with a virus that sent me to bed for the better part of a week. Coincidence? I wonder. Probably not direct punishment so much as letting me feel the consequences of draining my natural resistance through a rebellious attitude–through telling God that if He won’t let me design my own yoke to my own liking, I’m still not going to carry His without a fight.

It’s not the “goads” of circumstance that make our lives miserable. It’s our insistence on kicking against those goads instead of falling into step with the Master. He alone knows the sort of rest we really need; and He is indeed waiting to give it to anyone who asks.

But He is the Master, and He is not impressed by human logic that says He should bring rest to us at our point of choice. The “you come to Me” rule still holds.

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