Dear Pastors, Missionaries, Chaplains and Friends,
Steve here ….We’re into summer and I’m hoping most of us are getting some down-time or about to get it. I’m off on vacation in a couple of weeks. Trust you are taking advantage of the summer months to get some R&R. You need it.
I once did a message entitled, “T.L.C. Living”. I used the well-known T.L.C. or tender loving care tag-line to talk about overcoming the stresses of life.
Jesus summarized the secret to stress management in three insightful sentences found in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV):
“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.”
Jesus tells us to do three things when stressed – Come, Learn and Take (TLC living). If we do these, our stress diminishes and our satisfaction increases. How?
1. Come to Jesus
Matthew 11:28 says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
The first things Jesus says is “come to me”. When you’re overloaded and need rest for your soul, go to Jesus. Soul rest is different than physical rest. It is rest from an overloaded mind–from worry, tension, guilt, fear or bitterness. Who do you turn to when exhausted? Too many of us turn to food and many of us spell food c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e. Only Jesus can give us soul-rest. The Prophet Isaiah tells us to “wait on the Lord and find new strength,” (Is 40:31). How do we get that “new strength”? “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you will begin to sense His grace,” (Matthew 6:6, The Message). In other words, get alone. Stop acting. Stop thinking you can handle it. Come to Jesus.
2. Learn to trust Jesus
Matthew 11:29(NIV) says:
“…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your soul…”
If we’re to live at peace, then we must “learn” Jesus’ model and follow it. Learning is a process and many of us need to unlearn and relearn many things. Some things we learn with Jesus as our model are:
· Gentleness is the antidote for the hurry in my life. We hurry, jump in, buy too soon, speak without thinking and over commit. Gentleness stopped Jesus from pursuing every task and request.
· Humility is the antidote for the selfishness in my life. Pride drives us to “more” and the result is overload. The secret is humility. Jesus lived a life of simple and humble obedience to the Father’s will. He didn’t worry or strive to please others. He only sought to please His Father.
The last step in Jesus’ stress management program is:
3. Take the control to Jesus
“Take my yoke upon you…”
Jesus is not saying take on more of a load. He is saying find relief by going my way.
A yoke is a wooden beam attaching two oxen who plough a farmer’s field. They work together, sharing the burden, to accomplish more than working alone. It was a tool of stress reduction. Share the load with Jesus and we find He has a stronger back than any of us. The yoke is also used by the farmer to direct the oxen team. When we are properly yoked to Jesus, He directs and controls our path. When we move in the same direction and same pace as Christ we discover peace. All of us need a pace-setter because we all have a tendency to go too fast through life.
We think a vacation will ease the stress, but Jesus says take on my “yoke” and discover that the antidote to stress relief is giving up control. Jesus wants to share our burden. He wants to become our pace-setter. It starts by accepting His invitation, “Come to me” (Matthew 11:28a).
Have a blessed week,