I recently began working outside our home. For the previous four years, I poured my days (what was left after washing dishes and buying groceries, which are both part of a vicious but necessary cycle, now that I think about it.) into writing and all the obligations surrounding it (e.g. social media). But what I loved—what I always wanted to be doing—was opening the Word of God and writing about it. That part never felt like work. It still doesn’t.
There are big chunks of my new
job that don’t feel like work.
But now, I go to an office most days, and I’m trying to adjust my life to this new normal while I try not to lose the writing. This struggle for adjustment is why, for the first time since September 2015, my blog posts are sometimes late. There are big chunks of my new job that don’t feel like work, just like when I wrote from home. And some parts of my new job that are work feel like the work of helping someone move: hard but rewarding. (Maybe for you, it’s gardening or baking.) God has equipped and trained me for this new job, and I know He has placed me there for this time.
My daughter has a friend who loves rock-climbing, but he plans to study engineering in college. Some people find careers that fulfill them. Some people find careers that support them while they do the thing that fulfills them. I imagine this friend will work all week to feed his stomach, then climb all weekend to feed his soul. Nothing wrong with that. The engineering may always feel like work, but the climbing never will.
The farmer goes out in the morning and places the yoke onto his work animals (horses, donkeys, cow, oxen) so they can pull the plow through the dirt. It’s hard work. At the end of the day, he removes the yoke so his animals can rest. We know that yokes are about hard work.
But Jesus said something different.
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. –Matthew 11:29
Take my yoke upon you…and find rest.
In putting on the yoke,
we learn how to rest.
It seems backward—a bit of uncommon sense—that in putting on the yoke, we learn how to rest. I’m all for Sabbathing, that stepping out of regular life to rest and refresh. In fact, I wrote a whole series on it last year. But Jesus says there’s a way to find rest in the middle of the work we do for and with Him. He shoulders the yoke alongside us, like an experienced ox beside a young one. As we learn to walk at His pace, to stop where He stops, to pull where He pulls, we experience rest—maybe not in our bodies but in our souls. We will still need Sabbath, but we won’t come to it in exhaustion.
Okay, let’s just admit that in this yoked pairing with Jesus, He does most of the heavy lifting. Still, He teaches us a way to move through our days without feeling burdened or overwhelmed.
His commands are not burdensome. –1 John 5:3b
Thing is, most of us struggle against His yoke. We fight Him and try to pull away from Him, making more work for ourselves and for Jesus, and accomplishing very little. We think we know better than Jesus. If, however, we can settle down and trust this One who is “gentle and humble in heart,” we will find ourselves accomplishing more than we thought possible without exhausting ourselves.
The prophet Jeremiah said something similar as he spoke for God to the people of Judah.
Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. –Jeremiah 6:16
Walk…and you will find rest.
Do something work-ish
to find rest.
Not “lay down and sleep” or “take some me-time” but rather, do something work-ish by walking in “the good way” to find the rest our hearts need.
I think this is what Christ-followers mean when they say, “It doesn’t feel like work.” It’s about obedience and trust, but walking in His purpose…His will…under His yoke is light work beside someone this One we love.
Put on a yoke (a tool of work) to rest? Once again, Jesus said the opposite of conventional wisdom, and yet He’s completely right. My #worklifebalance is #NotAboutMe via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)
What do you do that “doesn’t feel like work” even though it is? Do you sense Jesus walking beside you, teaching you how to rest in Him through the work rather than in spite of it? Want to share a brief example? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!