Life’s Hardest Lessons

Our “education” doesn’t end when we finish school, whatever level that may be. ¬†I sometimes joke that I’ve learned the most from that school whose colors are black and blue. ūüôā ¬†I seem to keep getting set back a grade, though, because in some things I never seem to learn. ¬† This world isn’t the only one which believes in “continuing education”.

The most difficult lessons are about something the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV),

“Come to Me, all you 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.”¬†

Spurgeon had a tremendous sermon on this text, and if I still had it, I¬†would be tempted ¬†just to print it, even if it is twelve¬†pages long. ¬†He’s not to be blamed, though, for the thoughts which follow.

There seem to be two “grades,” if you will, in this school. ¬†These are found in connection with the word, “rest.”

In the first grade¬†–¬†would that it were that simple because that was where we learned the ABC’s and 123’s¬†–¬†in the first grade, our Lord says to “come” and He will give us rest.

This, I believe, is the “rest” of salvation.

With this phrase,¬†I don’t mean¬†that there is something “more” to salvation, that is, the “rest” of it. ¬†Perhaps I should have said, “the rest which comes from salvation.” ¬†There are those who look for something more, some experience, some emotion, something… beyond “salvation.” ¬†They look for the “abundant life,” as if eternal life itself isn’t enough. ¬†They want a “second” blessing, as if we¬†haven’t already received every spiritual blessing¬†in the Lord Jesus, Ephesians 1:4. ¬†They just feel that something is missing.

Nor, by this phrase, do I mean that we can “kick back and take it easy;” we can just “rest” and goof off. ¬†We’re on our way to heaven. ¬†Saying this, I DON’T mean that we somehow have to work our way to salvation, or that we even can do such a thing, though our Lord does address those¬†who labor and are heavy-laden.¬†

No, no, I believe He’s talking to those who “labor” in the shackles¬†of sin, though modern “wisdom” has¬†lessened that thought to a mere “addiction.” ¬†They are “heavy laden” with the effects of their lives: disease, poverty, crime, violence, to name just a few. ¬†Just in passing, though I’m not really railing against “evil Joe Camel” or “Demon Rum,” but how much do you suppose¬†an average person spends in a year on tobacco or alcohol? ¬†In a life? ¬†I don’t know, though I suppose someone has figured it out. ¬†But at $5 or so a pack for cigarettes – and a pack or two a day? ¬†No wonder folks are “poor!” ¬†And that doesn’t figure in the cost¬†of alcohol. ¬†Or the price of a “fix.”

Even for those who aren’t one of “them,” life apart from the Lord Jesus is expensive. How much will¬†some pay for “success,” however that may be defined?

What will they pay for “stuff?”

No, no, our Lord talks about “rest” because the work of salvation is done. ¬†When He cried out on the Cross, “It is finished,” He didn’t mean there was something left for us to do to “complete” salvation. ¬†He lived the live we can’t live; He died the death we can never die – the only life and death which can satisfy God’s law and justice. ¬†That work is forever done.

Some people look to the “merits” of saints to help them out. ¬†Beloved, there’s only ever been One Who had any merit to begin with, let alone have any “left over”!

To “come” doesn’t mean to walk an aisle or pray a prayer or do any of a hundred other things religion says to do. ¬†It means to believe, to trust, to “rest” on Christ, Who He was and what He did for sinners like you and me. ¬†To rely on Him to the point that if He were to fail – and He can’t! ¬†He won’t! – there’s no other hope for us.

Because, apart from Him, there IS no other hope!

However, there is another word our Lord uses. ¬†He said,¬†“Take.”¬†

This, I believe, is the “rest” of¬†submission.¬†

Oh, that word raises the hackles. ¬†It makes us arch our back and spit like a cat. ¬†There are whole bunches¬†of religious people¬†who oppose this idea with all their might. ¬†And these aren’t just “liberal” folks; they might otherwise be very “conservative”. ¬†They might even “believe the Bible from cover to cover.”

I spent several years among them. ¬†Saw perhaps hundreds of “professions,” but only¬†handfuls who were¬†ever baptized or joined a church. ¬†But they were “saved” because they had “prayed the prayer.” ¬†Or so it was said. ¬†I really don’t know in any particular case because I can’t see the heart.

But I do¬†believe that there will be multitudes who will “weep and wail” at the judgment because they did what some preacher or soul-winner or priest or rabbi or imam or guru or whatever told them to do, only to find out when it’s too late that it’s not what God told them to do.

The “yoke” speaks of service. ¬†It was put on the neck of animals so they could pull a plow or some other item.

All of us have a “yoke” of one kind or another. ¬†But our Lord tells us to take His yoke, to serve Him, not sin, nor self, nor stuff.

It amazes me even after several years of study and writing, etc., that even in the middle of writing this very post, I saw something I can’t say I had really noticed before. ¬†In reading over our Lord’s words, I was struck that there was a third thing He told us to do.

He said to “learn” from Him.

There are multitudes who are “Doctors” or “Masters” of some particular branch of learning. ¬†And I am not against “formal” education. ¬†I have a degree, though not as exalted as those.

Ah, but to learn from Christ Himself! ¬†And not just about Him! ¬†How I would love¬†to have been with¬†those who sat at His feet or those on the road to Emmaus who listened to Him and who testified later,¬†“Did not our hearts burn within us, …while He opened the Scripture to us?”¬†Luke 24:32.

But why Him?

“I am gentle and lowly in heart.”….

Yesterday was Christmas.

Today – not so much.

The wrapping paper has been picked up and put in the trash. ¬†All the food has been put away, though I fear the scale might tell us we put too much away! ¬†In the retail world, this is a very busy day, with gifts being returned and exchanged, and with all the “after-Christmas sales.”

The nativity set probably still sits there, sharing space with a tree and ornaments and decorations.

Christmas was yesterday.  (Sounds like the title of a post.)

In a few days, there will be a New Year, the ball will drop in Times Square, and life will go on.

Will the lesson have been learned – the gentleness and meekness of Christ?

“Very God of Very God.”

Born a Baby.

In a feeding trough.

Probably not….

But there’s another reason “why Him”?

“My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”¬†

So much easier than that burden you’re carrying right now.

The world looks at Biblical Christianity as a terrible thing. ¬†I had a man tell me that God ¬†forbids all the things we want to do. ¬†That’s because they’re bad for us, now and forever.

So, why do that? ¬†Why “come”? ¬†Why “take”? ¬†Why “learn”?

Because we will¬†“find rest for our souls.”¬†

The most popular drugs are tranquilizers. ¬†One of the most common ailments is stress. ¬†That’s because this world has no resting place. ¬†There’s nothing that really can say, “That’s enough.” ¬†There’s always another dollar, another pleasure, another rung on the ladder, another “thing.” ¬†We need this year’s model; last year’s model isn’t any good any more. ¬†We have been taught to believe that “new” is “improved.” ¬†That it’s better.

But it wears out or becomes old itself.

Only God’s blessing, in Christ, in¬†new every morning, Lamentations 3:23. ¬†(You might take note of the surrounding verses and chapters in this short book. ¬†It isn’t about “health and wealth” or any of the other things our modern superficial spirituality looks for. ¬†It is about trusting God when everything around us says, “Why?”)

Oh, there’s so much more I could write. ¬†So many things.

But I don’t know you, my dear reader.

I pray the Spirit of God will do that which I cannot, and find you wherever you may be in life and make you a student in the School of Christ, that One Who alone has the words of eternal life, John 6:68.

May God add His blessing, for Jesus’ sake.