Have you ever awakened from sleep only to feel a little MORE tired than when you went to bed? Just because you 'slept' doesn't always mean you 'rested', does it? Sometimes our sleep is restless, because of the burdens we bear or the interruptions in life that seem to interfere with that 'rest'. For some of us, it is the company we have been keeping that keeps us from resting more than anything else. Maybe that company is us! It doesn't have to always be anyone else - we can be our own worst company at times! No one knows the Father unless they know the Son - keep company with him and you will get to know God. That is the basis of Jesus' teaching - know me, the Son of God, and you will know the one who sent me, my Father God. Why is this important? Jesus tells us that no one really knows the Father like the Son does. Our kids know us so well - it stands to reason Jesus would know his Father very well, too! Since he knows what impedes our rest, isn't it wise to learn to keep company with the one who knows who stands in the way of us really being 'at peace' and at 'rest' in our lives?
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28-30)
Three questions are posed for us to consider - questions that help us to realize what close union with him produces. 1) Are you tired? Tiredness comes from exertion - sometimes it even comes from over-exertion. He is asking if we are exhausted by all the self-effort we have been putting into "being righteous". If we are truly tired, we will desire rest. 2) Are you worn out? When we run for so long, we become depleted of energy. As our energy wanes, we soon lack enthusiasm in what it is that we are doing. He is asking if we are tired of just doing things by the books, doing them from memory with no real heart behind it. The energy behind our work is often directly linked to where our heart finds rest. If there is no rest in our heart, there will be very little energy in our work. 3) Are you burned out on religion? That which is burned out is usually totally consumed - there is no effectiveness in what it is we are doing any longer. He is asking if we are tired of living ineffective lives. Tough questions, but if we answer them honestly, we are likely on the verge of finding the solution we need!
We can probably associate will all three of these questions at one point or another! Exhausted by our efforts to be righteous, lacking enthusiasm because all we do is sucking us dry, and totally ineffective in our testimony, as a result. The answer to these three questions: 1) Come to me. Plain and simple - go to the source of energy, to the supply of sufficiency. Stop wallowing around in your own efforts to be righteous and take up new company - company with Jesus. 2) Get away with me and you will recover your life. He is offering us the ability to bring balance back to our lives once again. Balance is not found in the "doing", but in the "being". When we are content to just "be" with Jesus, we find our greatest balance. 3) Walk with me and work with me. Jesus does not present the life of laying around in a field of wildflowers, just consuming the air and taking in the beauty. These are action words - walk with him and work with him. Walk suggests "keeping current" with Jesus - keeping pace with him. When we "walk with" someone through life, we are involved with them daily, moment-by-moment. Work suggests that "keeping current" involves us being right there with him in the day-to-day activities he engages in (reaching out to the rejected of the world).
Jesus concludes that we "learn the unforced rhythms of grace". The UNFORCED rhythms of GRACE. Grace is not earned - it is given freely - nor is it forced. Grace is not crammed down your throat - it is extended willingly for the taking and enjoyment. The idea is that we come to a place where the 'grace-filled' company we keep brings us to a place where we come out of the FORCED rhythms of religious pursuits and into the UNFORCED rhythms of his unmerited grace and favor. The final invitation he extends - keep company with me. He invites us to make him our "usual" companion in life. We all favor certain individuals in our daily life - walking closer to some than others. He asks that we keep him as the closest! Just sayin!