Monday, March 28, 2011

Matthew 11:28-30 -- On Burdens and Rest

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

I love the idea of this scripture... that God will give us rest. That if we yoke ourselves with Christ, everything is easier. Sometimes, with our limited earthly perspective, it is easy to start thinking of God's plan as a hard thing or a burden. We have lessons on the value of work, and people frequently talk about willpower and sacrifice, and unlike many other churches, we think of Heaven as a place where we continue to work and learn and do... and we can start thinking of the afterlife as just an extension of this life, with more of the same. Falling into this idea of heaven as a continued burden can make people not want to bother with trying to get there... deciding to settle for something less because that sort of heaven just seems too hard, or really, maybe we're just not the type of people that want to slave and sacrifice for eternity. And hey, I agree... if Heaven is just unpleasant work, I'd rather take a nap myself.
It's an understandable way of thinking... work is central to our lives here, and we know that God works to help us. However, I don't think that work on Earth and work for God are even close to the same... God's work is tough, but for someone who can move mountains and walk on water... I'm not sure how even that could be physically burdensome.
One of the coolest glimpses we have into the changes that our bodies will undergo after this life is the three Nephites. They really *were* going to get several lifetimes of "more of the same," and Christ said this: "ye shall not have pain while ye shall dwell in the flesh, neither sorrow save it be for the sins of the world." No pain at all (wow!) and no sorrow, except in a limited way. That sounds pretty cool. Pain and sorrow were some things introduced into mortality after Adam and Eve transgressed... and apparently, they can be taken away again, after we learn what they are meant to teach us.
And the people of Alma... they were in bondage and slavery... and God made their burdens light and strengthened them, so that even in a situation where they could get killed for praying, and they were in slavery, "they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord." That's some pretty cool stuff, and that is something that we can have now. God isn't only promising us rest when we become like him (no aging! hurrah!), or after taking 900 level graduate courses in heaven... God offers us rest today. No matter how hard our lives are, or how many burdens we have on our backs, God asks us to come unto him, put him first, make him part of our lives... and he will help us carry every burden, and shoulder every weight. Today, let's look to God. Let's take the time to pray and get to know him, and allow him to lift some of our burden... of stress, of effort, or pain, of guilt, of sorrow, or of being too busy to think. :) He loves us, and will help us if we come to him.

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