Most of us receive invitations somewhat regularly to attend events, parties, dinners; accompany others places; or meet friends for impromptu activities. Even the most social among us accept some invitations, while declining others. The reasons influencing those decisions run the gambit, but by far the strongest motivator is the impact that participation has on the individual. We tend to be extraordinarily adept at wriggling out of something we don’t really want to do – we always have justifiable reasons. So, on occasion, we may turn down invitations that could further careers, bring healing to fractured relationships, or challenge us to stretch ourselves in new life-arenas – we either don’t see the potential, or it’s just too much work, or the process is too fearful.
Could any of those be the reason we largely ignore one of the most profound invitations we will ever receive, issued by Jesus? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
Our days of busyness, stress, and incessant demands, should have us running to Him. But, do we? Almost all of us prefer to handle matters ourselves, only turning to Jesus as the last resort when all else has failed. With Jesus extending such a gracious offer to trade yokes/burdens with us, and provide us with much-needed rest, why don’t we take Him up on it?
For some of us, it might be disbelief – we don’t really think He would do it for us – maybe someone else, but not us. For others of us, it is more about distrust— we must be in control – it is too frightening to give up that power and influence, when the result could be someone hurting me, marginalizing me, manipulating me, trying to run my life. Will I be blamed/have to suffer the consequences when everything goes south? What will people say and think? The first scenario reinforces my sense of unworthiness, while the second spins me out of control.
The fear associated with either make avoidance seem the safest tactic.
The biggest problem is that we have misunderstood Jesus’ invitation. He is not the spiritual handy-man, fixing problems. He is offering an intimate relationship – one of a best friend who is with us through thick and thin, and will do anything to help. Jesus loves so deeply and knows us so intimately, that He knows how detrimental it is for us – unqualified as we are – to be in charge of our lives. The pain, worry and stress that consume us are largely because we have tried to do it our way. Instead of flailing about in the pain and anxiety, Jesus wants us to use those emotions as road signs warning that the bridge is out, and He is the safe detour…actually, the true Way. He is giving us an amazing opportunity to come to Him to learn secrets about ourselves and His plans for us. In this place, we begin to better understand His Nature and Character— One who loves without conditions, and therefore is the epitome of Trust. The more responsibility we give over to Him, the lighter our load, and the more freedom we enjoy.
The irony is that it is usually fear of some description that keeps us from coming; yet, in coming, fear is eradicated when the Lion of Judah assumes control. It is vital that we see this tactic is designed to keep us from knowing Jesus intimately, and that we determine not to participate by ignoring Jesus’ invitation. There is no other trade so sweet.