Cross Words: This is your invitation to rest

By Isaiah Pauley

My Fitbit watch tracks my sleep. I got 6 hours and 19 minutes of sleep last night. Not too bad. The National Sleep Foundation suggests 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for people my age. But when I checked my sleep this morning, I was hoping it would be less, not more.

Getting rest might be the hardest thing I do each day. And I doubt I’m the only one. In a culture where productivity is praised, it’s harder than ever to rest.

I’m reminded of what Jesus says.

“‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’” (Matt. 11:28-30 ESV).

It’s an invitation to rest. An opportunity to find comfort in the arms of Christ. But this rest is more than a cozy nap on a cold winter day. Jesus offers a spiritual rest. An eternal rest. The rest we really need.

Oh, how often we miss the grace of God. How often we think everything depends on us. How hard we work. How good we perform. How much effort we put forth. We believe we can sustain ourselves. Provide for ourselves. And it’s an exhausting life. I know because I live it nearly every day.

But when Jesus summons us unto Himself, He invites us into the bounty of His grace. After all, it is by grace we’re saved. Not our efforts. Not our works. Not how well we perform each day.

The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8 ESV).

You see, Jesus offers a rest from striving. A rest from thinking that everything depends on us. It’s an invitation of grace. And how often do we miss it? We push through our days buried under the stress of this world. Weary from the fight. Trying desperately to make ends meet. And through all of that pressure, we miss God’s grace. We fail to give ourselves grace. And it’s awfully hard to rest. I mean, truly rest.

But Jesus offers to teach us how to rest. His rest is not permission to do whatever we want. Rather, it’s an understanding of grace. Unlike the religious people of His day, Jesus offers an easy yoke. A burden that’s not too heavy. A life defined by grace, not works. The rest Jesus offers us is quite unlike that of the Pharisees.

It’s the rest foretold hundreds of years earlier by the prophet Jeremiah, who writes, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it”’” (Jer. 6:16 ESV).

May we not be like those who reject this rest. May we not be like those who think there’s a better way. No matter how much we try. No matter how hard we hustle. There’s nothing to be found outside of Christ.

Augustine says, “Lord, thou madest us for thyself, and we can find no rest till we find rest in thee!”

Eugene Peterson’s translation beautifully captures Matthew 11:28-30. Allow me to end with these words.

Jesus says, “‘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’” (MSG).

This is your invitation to rest.

By Isaiah Pauley

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at

Isaiah Pauley is the Minister of Worship for Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va. Find more at