Once a year, we get to cease from our “manic Monday” lives, and be celebrated for the impact our working has had on our society. We mark the end of the summer with this hiatus. We light our grills, don our shopping garb and hit the sales, relax with friends and family. We get to rest. But do we really?
What about our souls? Deep within where no one can see, do you feel yourself striving? Are you striving to be more, to do more, to be a better person, to be more diligent…to be seen? We hide these inner longings with stuff. The busy trappings of a life fully lived. Work, school, kids, chores, laundry, diapers, christian service, community service, hospitality, good works. I’m not denying the value of any of these things. They are all good and should be done. But do they drive us? When our tired heads crash into the fluff of our pillows at night, do they consume us still? Are we able to rest or are we thinking about all of our stuff? Do we feel full with overflow…ready to pour out again tomorrow not of necessity, but rather abundance? Why are we striving at all?
We all know labor. The toil and motion of our days. The drive to accomplish more or be a little better. So we reach and stretch like ace bandage around the wounds of our lives, hiding the inner longing from the masses. Gaining momentum so we can do more tomorrow. We know the ache of muscles overused. The dull of a mind overspent. The fog of lack of slumber and heavy heart. We may not labor everyday. We may even enjoy it. We, hopefully, take time out to laugh and enjoy the moments of greatness. We rest a bit now and then, but is rest a lifestyle?
I contend that every day should be labor day. Jesus said this in the book of Matthew: “Come to Me, all you 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
The answer to our striving is always found in our following. Jesus didn’t ask us to be better. Jesus took our ‘bad’ upon himself, bore our sorrows and took our shame. Jesus provided freedom for our souls. Freedom from the burden of striving. When we come to him, we are free to be. In him we find rest. He joins us in the yoke of life, strapped in together with us and carries the burden for us. We simply walk with him.
There will always be hustle and bustle circling overhead. There will always be things to do and commotion to tame. But there will always be Jesus soothing our souls with the balm of his peace. He washes our hearts with his spirit, quiets us with his love and calls us righteous. None of this is based on what we can do or have done. Though our righteousness was as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), he clothes us with his righteousness (Romans 3).
Today, I encourage you to rest in him. Enjoy this labor day, knowing that you were created for his good pleasure, that he delights in you and that you are loved more than you can ever imagine. Happy Labor Day!