In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus invites us, “Come to me, all you who are weary.”
The word translated “weary” can also mean “tired,” or better yet, “exhausted.”
Jesus was speaking with a group of his followers and he said, “Are you weary, tired, or exhausted? Come to me, and you will find rest.”
Even more so, he tells us, “You will find rest for your soul.”
What’s a soul? Our soul is the deepest part of who we are. It’s what makes you you and me me. When your entire being is exhausted from working nonstop, it’s your soul that needs rest.
Our soul longs to be refreshed. Where? The only place we can go to find rest—Jesus.
Maybe you’ve heard this verse before, as it’s a classic verse from Jesus. These are words that I’ve preached on. Verses that I could easily have recited off the cuff. However, it was a reality I didn’t know for myself and hadn’t experienced in six years.
I actually told my wife during that season that it felt almost like I didn’t have a soul anymore. It was gone. I felt empty. Dead. Like a shell of my former self.
I began to long for rest, this supernatural rest Jesus talked about. I longed for my soul to be refreshed and could clearly see my utter and complete need for him and the rest he spoke of.
Over the few months that followed, I began to ask God for help. I began going for walks at night as a way to get some fresh air at the end of a day and connect with God. Once Bec and the kids were sleeping, I headed out for forty-five minutes. I walked down the sidewalks under the glowing streetlights with my hands in my pockets. I walked from one block to the next. I talked with God and prayed as I walked. I shared my heart with him. I asked for his rest. I longed for my soul to be refreshed. After my walk, I returned home and went to bed.
My simple daily prayer became: Lord, I need your help.
Some days it was all I could say. Lord, I need your help.
I said it in the morning. Lord, I need your help.
I said it multiple times throughout each day. Lord, I need your help.
I whispered it to God before going to sleep. Lord, I need your help.
Thankfully, God specializes in bringing dead things back to life. Over those months, God took my soul—my burned out, exhausted soul—and slowly but surely gave it rest. He breathed life back into me. I began to feel again. I began to care again. I began to live again. And it was all because I made the time to talk with him and take him at his promise: “You will find rest.”
This promise from Jesus was no longer just a verse I quoted as a pastor. It was no longer just the basis of a message I would share for others. It became a reality within the deepest part of me, within the deepest part of my rested soul.
During this season, one of the hardest things for me to realize was that I’m not invincible. As humans, we pride ourselves on how much we can do and how busy our lives are. The most common answer you’ll hear when you ask people how they’re doing is a single word: “Busy!” Sometimes they repeat it to show how chaotic their life is. “Busy, busy, busy!”
I used to see being a workaholic as a badge of honor. Sometimes I still believe that one of my best traits is the ability to work nonstop. And yet, it’s clear: I’m not a robot. I’m a human with a soul. I can’t do this on my own, and I no longer want to try. I’m a person. I’m a pastor in need of Jesus just as much as anyone else, maybe even more.
You’re a person too. You have a soul. And you need rest. Even Jesus took time to rest! He took time to be still. To be alone and talk with God.
A theme and a command found throughout the Bible is the importance of taking a Sabbath. That means taking a day to set work aside. A day to connect with God and others. A day to remind ourselves that God is God and we are not. A day to be renewed, doing whatever renews us.
In the 24/7, always connected, constantly available world we live in, I might argue that this is one of the hardest commands in the entire Bible to follow. Especially for someone like me who doesn’t have an off switch. Why is it so hard? Because I often believe the lie that I’m in control of things that I’m really not in control of.
So why did I wait until I was completely exhausted before I reached out my hand to God? Why do we wait to cry out? Why are we so slow to learn? Why do we pridefully think we can make it through life, or even a week, on our own?
Lord, forgive us.
Get Adam’s new book, Talking with God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray (Waterbook & Multnomah, 2017).
From the website: “Prayer seems like it should be so simple. Yet, when it comes to actually praying, often it feels awkward and complicated. I mean… what should you actually pray about? What do you say? Is there anything I should or shouldn’t say? Do you have to speak out loud?
Then comes the craziness which is life. Between work, changing diapers, walking the dog, unread emails, trying to keep up with our neighbors… and the laundry, who has time to pray?
The truth is, prayer is simple. It’s like talking. Talking with a good friend. And the best part? Our God can’t wait to talk with us.”