You Will Find Rest
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a growing uneasiness in my soul. I have quickly burned through my “patience reserves” and have responded more often out of irritation than I would like to count. Don’t ask my family if they have enjoyed living with me lately. I’ve grown increasingly tired as well—physically, emotionally and spiritually. I assumed it was my work load, which had amped up for a season. I told myself I’d be fine after I got some rest.
But even after things slowed down, the edges of my life continued to feel frazzled. As I paid attention to the things that triggered me, I found that my general sense of weariness stemmed from my own feelings of inadequacy. I could never seem to get enough sleep. I felt like I was regularly disappointing people, and even though I had cleared my calendar, I still felt overextended. The constant cry of my heart was, “I am not enough!”.
After scrolling through pictures of vacation rentals in the Bahamas planning my (imaginary) escape, I acknowledged that a vacation or spa weekend won’t resolve this tension inside of me. The issue is my heart. I feel like I am not enough because I falsely assumed that with a little organization, a little extra effort, I could be. I have forgotten who I truly am.
In his book, Humility, Andrew Murray explains that our need for dependency is not a consequence of something broken in us—it is a part of our original, beautiful design—what we were meant to be. When God created Adam and Eve, they willingly embraced their dependence on him and it brought them joy. Joyful dependence! That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But when I stop to think about it, it feels peaceful. Knowing my place in the world, resting in a God who is trustworthy, and being content in the person my Father created me to be—that sounds like freedom.
But joyful dependence is no longer our experience. Through the serpent’s lie, pride entered into the Garden. Adam and Eve were deceived into thinking that dependency was slavery and true freedom lies in self reliance. They believed that God was holding back good things from them. Instead of remembering their place and resting in God’s love, they embraced pride and declared their independence. They forgot who they were created to be.
Even though I wouldn’t describe myself as an arrogant person, I have come to see that pride is at the root of my exhaustion. Like Adam and Eve, I have forgotten who I was made to be, and I have reached for what I am not. I was not the first on this earth nor will I be the last. I am not the beginning or the end of anything. My commands will not calm the storms or raise the dead (or get my teenagers to clean their rooms). My ideas will not grow our church nor will my wisdom bring prodigal children home. My organization system will not save my children’s future. These powers were never mine, and pretending they were has left me exhausted.
In the past, when confronted with my pride, I have made an attempt at humility by “trying harder to think humble thoughts.” But the path of humility doesn’t start with what I do. It begins with an invitation: “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.” (Matt. 11:28-29)
When I cry out, “I am not enough!”, Jesus stoops down and pulls me close to himself, inviting me to lean on his chest. He is gentle with me. He has wrapped himself in humility and entered into our world so that we would learn to trust him and draw near to him. He sees the heavy burdens we carry, the load that weighs us down. He knows the impossible expectations we have placed on ourselves. He understands how pride has whispered in our ears and we have grasped at glory in all the wrong ways. He sees, he knows, he understands and he longs to give our souls rest.
Andrew Murray writes that the life of humility is one that has made space for God to be God, a life that is ready and waiting to be filled by him alone. A humble life does not schedule out every moment in an attempt to be self sufficient nor does it settle for what is humanly possible. A humble heart creates space for God and then lives expectantly. Humility requires courage. It is fueled by faith in a God it cannot see, but knows to be good and true.
But how do we embrace humility in the everyday work of living? The secret does not lie in our doing, but in Christ himself. We will spend the next three Fridays in Lent looking at Jesus’s life and teachings, so that we can learn from him. True children of God long to be like their gentle brother, Jesus.
Where do you feel exhausted or overextended? Do you find yourself short on patience and responding in irritation and anger? Would others describe you as gentle? Are weary people drawn to you? Maybe, like me, you too could benefit from looking at the humility of Jesus. Murray writes, “Christ is…the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us…Believer, study the humility of Jesus! This is the secret, the hidden root of thy redemption.” Humility is a gift from the Gentle Servant, Jesus. Let’s accept his invitation and learn from him together.