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Rest or Escape?

If you have ever been fishing, it does not take too much of an imagination to put yourself in this picture. The sun is quietly setting, the lake is calm, the evening is peaceful, and it does not matter if the fish are biting or not. The peacefulness of the setting can draw you in so easily.

Why does this picture have that effect upon us? Because our lives are jam packed with action and activities and, often, we long for only a moment of rest and quiet. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The word for rest in the original means “to cause to rest, to soothe, refresh.” It consists of a prefix and a root word which means “to cause to pause or cease.” What is interesting about Jesus’ words is that we do not have to find rest on our own or manufacture a rest for ourselves. No; Jesus will give us rest. In the next verse the same root can be translated “intermission.” Jesus gives us the rest we are seeking, and He gives us an intermission from the daily activities of the world if we let Him. He puts our lives on pause.

But we can become impatient waiting for Jesus to give us His rest and we start to take things into our own hands. While He will give us rest, by acting ourselves we end up seeking escape instead of the true rest He provides. The means of escape are quite familiar: fishing, medications, alcohol, expensive vacations, spending sprees, and others, but not one is the true rest that our spirit is seeking. St. Augustine said of God, “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.” A paraphrase of Blaise Pascal would say, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person that can only be filled by God.” Trying to stuff our means of escape into this vacuum will not fill it. Why? Because not one of them is God-shaped. Only God can fill that vacuum and put our hearts at rest. All other attempts are in vain and will ultimately fail.

Are you looking for rest? Are you looking for that peace of soul that you so dearly need and want? The answer is found only in Christ by taking His yoke upon you and being united to Him completely.

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