If you've been feeling tired or weary lately, I have been praying for you. For just about two weeks, the Lord led me to pray during my morning prayer sessions for those who felt weighed down by the weariness of regular life. For two weeks, I have been praying Christ's invitation to the weary from Matthew 11:
"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 (NIV)
If you're anything like me, you have a pretty predictable pattern when that everyday-life grind begins to get to you. You want to shut down. You want to Netflix/YouTube/Twitch-binge. You want to play video games all day. The smallest favor - even from the person you love and cherish most - might as well be a request to retrieve some snow from the summit of Mt. Everest.
If you're anything like me, this reason for this is pretty straightforward - you think that you have to do something to get out of your "slump." But that's the problem ... if you're tired from doing things and think that you have to do more things to resolve the issue, you will only end up either more tired (and eventually burnt out) or surrendered to the overwhelming task (and simply give up on all areas of life). This past Monday, I felt the Lord's heart for those who felt this weariness, this desire to just check-out...
Come to me. I will give you rest. Abide.
This is not just an invitation for pastors and missionaries. This is not just an invitation for ministers. This is an invitation for all believers.
John 15:1-17 is a passage that God often takes me back to - just to center myself and remind myself of my priority to be rather than do. In this passage, Jesus identifies Himself as "the true vine" and the Father as the "gardener" or "vinedresser." Us? We're the branches. The word "remain" appears 11 times within these 17 verses. It almost seems like Jesus was trying to prove a point... (note: Jesus was trying to prove a point). Yesterday, the Lord spoke to me more clearly than I have heard Him speak in quite some time - this revelation was so simple, yet so profound:
As I was praying, I saw an image of a farmer working the field. I began to see that the farmer's responsibility had more to do with providing a fruitful environment to the best of his ability than to make the ground produce fruit. Then I heard the Lord say, "John, everything you are striving to accomplish, that's my job. Only I can do it. You need only to abide. "
No matter how hard a branch tries, it will not bear fruit unless it is remaining in the vine.
The only requirement for a branch to bear fruit is that it remains attached to the vine. There are many people out there growing weary from trying to produce what only God can produce. Jesus says, "Come to me. I will give you rest. Abide."
Abiding in Jesus not only gives us rest, it automatically results in fruit being borne in our lives. John 15:8 says that through bearing fruit and showing ourselves to be disciples of Christ, we glorify the Father. The beauty of this is that the context of this passage shows that the we way produce fruit is simply by abiding. In fact, if we remain in Jesus, we will bear much fruit (verse 5) because the Father will continually prune us so that we will increasingly bear more and more fruit.
This reminder to abide, to remain, is an important one in that it reminds us of the essence of our being - the great why behind who we are and why we are here. Our greatest calling (and pleasure/honor) is not to do great things - our greatest calling is to have intimacy - friendship - with Christ. This is what bears real fruit. This is what we will be counted as righteous by. This is what we will be judged by (read Matthew 7:21-23). This is what will carry on into eternity. So even now, I encourage you take a moment to assess where you are. Are you plugged in to the source of all joy, hope, and life? I pray that you will find rest and peace in the invitation of Christ:
Come to me. I will give you rest. Abide.
I pray that you would answer - that you would abide - and, from that place of intimacy, bear much fruit.