"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."--Matthew 11:28-30 Have you ever remodeled your home? The choices! The options! After awhile, things just start swimming before our eyes and in a fit of desperation, we say, "Enough! Just pick something!" Sometimes it doesn't even have to be paint chips or sink fixtures or cabinet handles. It could be cold cereal or summer activities for the kids. Our culture thrives on having an option for every need. But sometimes, too many options, even if they're good ones, end up overwhelming and immobilizing us.
If this describes your life, there really is only one secret that I have found that works, and that comes from Jesus' words in Matthew 11. When I start feeling overwhelmed, it's because my eyes have strayed from Him, tempted by the many other enticing options. Instead of coming to Him and learning from Him, I turn to what I see around me and let those things define what is important for me or my family.
When I read this verse, I see that Jesus' desire is not for us to be weary and burdened. It is not that He is going to take every burden away, for He still has a yoke and a burden for us to bear. The thing is that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It is not overwhelming, soul-crushing or unbearable. The key is knowing the difference between what is His burden for us and what is solely of our own doing. And we find that out when we take the time to come to Him, choose to take His yoke on ourselves, and sit at His feet to learn what is His desire for us.
Sometimes learning from Him means just learning how to do things a new way. For example, I have found meal preparation a big burden for me. As much as I like to cook, I like to do it as a hobby, not as a necessity. Unfortunately, you know that's not always the case. We do not have a lot of extra to buy pre-processed or fast food (nor do I really want to). One thing He has helped me is to come up with a plan to consolidate common tasks, develop a pantry, and organize my meal plans. Does Jesus really care about getting a meal on the table? You bet! It is part of my ministry as a mother. As I brought my burden to Him, He helped me to look for new ways to tackle this task in my life.
Sometimes learning from Him means looking at things from a different angle. He sees things differently than I do. When I first started homeschooling, I was a tyrant. Yes, I was. My poor firstborn was badgered and pushed and scolded. "What do you mean you don't remember the five most important results of the Civil War? We just went through that last week!" Oh, poor Janna. The trouble she's had to go through.
When both of us ended up crying, I knew things needed to change. Gently and patiently, the Lord had to show me that my focus was on the wrong things. I began to see that even if my child were a genius but had no heart for God, I would have completely missed the boat. He brought godly mentors that spoke truth to me and helped me to learn anew the joys of homeschooling.
Sometimes learning from Him means dealing with false beliefs or old wounds from our childhood, things that can keep us from moving ahead in a new direction with Him. I have found that the longer I walk with Him, the more junk I need to deal with in my life. Some of these old beliefs spring from things that I have picked up along the way and incorporated in my life with ugly results. For example, my belief that I (or my kids) needed to be the best at everything came from a fear of failing. To keep myself from looking like a failure, I worked and drove myself or my kids in unhealthy ways. Learning from Jesus meant letting Him get to those hurt places in my soul and apply His truth. And like physical wounds, healing takes time. But I can say that I can see how His truth is making a big difference in my life by lifting my unrealistic expectations of myself and others.
Dear friend, if you are feeling overwhelmed today, may I encourage you to take that to Jesus? It doesn't matter if it seems trivial or insignificant to you. If you are willing to come to Him with a teachable heart, you will find that He is gentle and humble in heart. In Him you will find rest---real, true rest---for your soul.
Part 2 of Overwhelmed series.