This morning I attended a workshop put on by the presbytery’s Pastor Support Team titled “Recapturing our Spiritual Life.” The workshop was led by Rev. Keenan Barber, pastor of Moorpark Presbyterian Church. Part of what we did was to simply read a passage of scripture slowly, line by line, taking the time to ask ourselves what it meant to us. The passage was Matthew 11:28-30. It’s a familiar one. Jesus is speaking to his followers:
‘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.’
As we considered each line, the thought occurred to me that rest is not just about sitting down and catching my breath. Rest comes from taking off the yoke of the world and putting on the yoke of God. What does that mean, exactly? As I understand it, it means that the measures of the world can be like a treadmill that wears us out and leads us nowhere. The measures of the world are often based on expediency, financial gain, mass appeal, and power over people and things. The measures of God are different. Why would the eternal be concerned with expediency? What does financial gain mean to the Creator of all things? Does the Truth seek mass appeal? Would the Spirit of Life yearn for power over others? The measures of God are knowledge, understanding, compassion and justice. Another way to put it is to say that the judgement of God is righteousness. True rest comes from being in alignment with God’s righteous judgement.
But aligning myself according to God’s values is challenging. Once I finish writing this article I will need to balance my checkbook (financial gain), develop efficient protocols for church administration (expediency), write a relatable sermon (mass appeal), and, perhaps, apply pressure on people to meet deadlines (power over others). I’ll be operating according to the measures of the world. No wonder so many people burn out. The fact that we operate on this plane is all the more reason to seek a foundation in God. The point isn’t to shrug off our earthly obligations. It is to bring God’s values into them, little by little, whatever that may mean. If I can accomplish that even a little bit, perhaps my endeavors, worldly as they are, will have lasting value—ones that will bring my spirit true rest.