“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.” ~The Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 11:28-30
Some say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Those “some” may be prone to exaggeration and clichés, but there is an undeniable power in an image. One I find to be particularly evocative in studying Jesus’ words in Matthew 11 is the following:
I spent my early years in a part of the world where this type of devotion was common. My father tells the story of a man who rolled prostrate for several hundred miles to reach a certain temple. In some respect, these men are the antithesis of American society; they commonly acknowledge the reality that many of us try to deny–that our souls demand we worship something above ourselves.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 11 were not the first time the Father contrasted His heart for humanity with the demands of idols.
“ But you have not called upon Me, O Jacob;
And you have been weary of Me, O Israel.
You have not brought Me the sheep for your burnt offerings,
Nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices.
I have not caused you to serve with grain offerings,
Nor wearied you with incense.” ~Isaiah 43:22-23
Bel bows down, Nebo stoops;
Their idols were on the beasts and on the cattle.
Your carriages were heavily loaded,
A burden to the weary beast.
They stoop, they bow down together;
They could not deliver the burden,
But have themselves gone into captivity. ~Isaiah 46:1-2
Are you worshipping something that is a burden, or the redeeming, loving Father who has called you by His name? Although Americans do not typically perform extreme displays of physical devotion to inanimate objects that look like the man in the above picture, we have our own acts of devotion to our things. We burden ourselves with the curse of the “good life,” serving comfort and our possessions rather than using them to serve us. It manifests in different ways–the couple who thinks children are a nuisance because they break things, the (typically, but not always) man who panics over a scratch on his car, the driven office-manager who never takes time to spend with family because of how much it would end up costing in revenue, and so on. When we view our finances as our source and security rather than God, who gives us everything, we are as burdened as if there were a physical hook in our jaws dragging a cart behind us. And through it all, the voice of a grieving Father says, “Come to me. You’re weary and burdened. Please, just come to me.”
We must get into the practice of shedding the junk of day-to-day life that we might see Him more clearly. Our priorities remain skewed when we neglect His Presence and thus, His values.
What are you serving?