A couple of weeks ago Kristy, Sarah Wynn and I drove up to Chattanooga to help our eldest move into a new house for the summer.
It wasn’t super late when we returned to Dahlonega, but it was dark and I began to feel really tired as I drove. Especially in my eyes. They became heavy and required a great deal of focus and effort to keep them open.
Can you relate to that kind of fatigue? Mothers can.
While being a mother may be the most rewarding job in the world, it also is the most demanding job in the world.
Motherhood is glorious... and it is exhausting.
Yesterday, I took a non-scientific poll on Facebook, asking moms what they really wanted for Mother's Day. There was a common theme. Rest.
While our passage this morning wasn’t originally spoken as a mother’s message, the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 speak to those of us who are fatigued, including mothers.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In these 3 verses, we discover a 3-part process for facing fatigue. The first step in the process begins in v. 28, where I simply...
1. ACKNOWLEDGE MY WEARINESS
v. 28, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Maternal weariness comes in two forms:
Mothers with Young Children
Mothers with young children feel this weariness physically. Being a mom of small people in the house involves an unrelenting cycle of tasks that start early and end late -- if they end at all.
Mothers with Older Children
At this stage, the heaviness shifts from physical weariness to emotional fatigue.
As younger children, our kids gets bumps and bruises on their knees. But as older children, they get bumps and bruises on their hearts.
As our children grow up, life becomes more complex.
Relationships get more complicated as they start to drive and begin to date. Then the move out and begin “adulting.” And learning how to adult in a broken world is stressful and sometimes painful. Furthermore, the consequences of poor decisions have a deeper and longer impact than they did when they were younger.
If you are a mother, what is your natural instinct at this point? Worry.
Have you ever seen a Yak carrying equipment on its back to base camp for aspiring climbers on Mt. Everest? How do they do it? Apparently, the key is to go slow and take breaks.
Some of us as mothers feel like that yak, carrying massive burdens of worry up a steep mountain.
The problem is that mothers were never intended to carry the weight that only God can bear.
Mothers are not sovereign. Mothers are not omnipresent. Mothers are not all wise. We are not in control.
This means we must rest in someone else’s control, purpose, and plan.
Going slowly and taking breaks is good advice. But we need a deeper rest.
We find this rest in verses 29 and 30, where, after we acknowledge the weariness, we are ready to…
2. RECEIVE GOD’S REST
vv. 29-30, 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Receiving God’s rest involves wearing a yoke and understanding a formula.
Wearing a Yoke
A “yoke” is a wooden crossbeam that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. Essentially, the yoke is a restraining device to keep the animals in line.
Jesus contrasts that kind of yoke with the one he gives his disciples.
If the standard yoke is "hard and heavy," his is “easy and light.”
What does this mean?
For starters, it means that if your soul feels heavy and burdened, you are not wearing Jesus's yoke. You are carrying what Jesus did not intend for you to carry.
To wear his yoke is to feel freedom, where you can freely admit you are not in control but that you have a good, wise, and strong Father in heaven who is in total control, working all things according to a redemptive purpose in our lives and the lives of our children.
- You don't have to feel the weight of the world because he feels it for you. You can rest.
- Even though you can’t always be with your kids, he can. You can pray.
- Because he doesn’t sleep, you can. You can rest.
But it requires exchanging your yoke. After all, everyone wears some kind of yoke. The yoke of insecurity and people pleasing. The yoke of worldly success. The yoke of parental worry.
In verse 29, Jesus actually teaches us a formula for replacing yokes.
Understanding a Formula
TAKE + LEARN = FIND
- To take is to receive a gift which is to believe the promises of grace are true for you.
- Then we learn -- we become students of grace, learning more and more what it means to be forgiven, accepted, and loved by a good, wise, and absolutely sovereign Father.
- Then we find. We discover. We experience rest… for our souls.
This simple three-part formula fulfills the three simple words of Jesus in verse 28, where we are called to…
3. RESPOND TO JESUS’S INVITATION
v. 28, “Come to me...”
1 Peter 5:7 is a parallel passage of sorts, where the apostle Peter writes,” “Cast all your anxiety [worries, burdens] on him… [WHY?] because he cares for you.”
When talking about anxieties, worries and burdens, we may distinguish between surface burdens and a core burden. When we have the core burden lifted, it will by consequence affect all the surface burdens we face.
The surface burdensSurface burdens are the worries of the world, including concern for the lives of our children.
The core burden
But the core burden is like the unseen battery in an electronic device. The device will not work properly without a full battery.
And we will only be able to face surface burdens with faith, peace, and rest when our core burden has been addressed.
What is the core burden that we are invited to cast upon Jesus? Not just parental burdens but our greatest and most personal burden -- my own sin.
It is this core burden which we must first cast upon Jesus.
For in the gospel, Jesus becomes the burden bearer, taking the weight of my sin upon himself, being crushed in judgment on a cross, putting on the heavy yoke of the law so that you and I may wear the light yoke of the gospel.
It is this yoke that becomes the battery that fuels my soul.
It is the yoke of grace empowers us with hope, knowing that we no longer have to feign being in control and we no longer have to fake having it all together before our children.
Mother’s were never meant to be Jesus-substitutes for their children.
It may help to know that, as a mother, you will let your kids down. You will blow it... and so will they.
This is why the greatest gift a mother can give to her children is her own need for Jesus.
This frees us from using our kids to make a name for ourselves and frees us from shaming our kids when they show themselves to be the same kind of sinners that we are -- desperate sinners in need of the cross of Jesus.
In fact, the gospel empowers us to show the same grace to our children that we have received so that they will not look to us as their hero but to Jesus -- the Jesus upon whom they can cast their own worries and sin… because he cares for them, too.
A hymn was written in 1864 by James Proctor entitled It is Finished. The final two stanzas read like this.
Weary, working, burden’d one, Wherefore toil you so?
Cease your doing; all was done, Long, long ago.
Cast your deadly “doing” down— down at Jesus’ feet;
And stand in Him, in Him alone, wonderously complete.
In view of the cross, will you do that? Will you respond to Jesus’s invitation simply to “come” in your weariness to lay your burden down and receive rest at the core of your soul?