Come unto me, all ye that labor 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, NT)
These verses keep coming back to me after two weeks; every few days I turn them over in my mind. They played an important role in one my first experiences with full-time missionary work in the MTC call center. I remember talking to Sammy on the phone, sharing these verses with her, and then calling her almost every week until I left the MTC.
Two weeks ago I recognized a new facet to “learn of me,” replacing “of” with “from.” I began to recognize that learning from Christ can change how I carry my burdens. If I can become meek and lowly in heart like He is, my yoke can become easy and my burden light. I love the multiple meanings in this phrase that reveal the many ways in which Jesus Christ helps us. I have experienced Him carrying my burden for a time, and then again I have felt Him strengthen me to carry my own burdens. Over time I see how developing His characteristics has changed me to carry my burdens differently. Now I feel like I take things in stride, I have a better sense of humor, and I roll with the punches a little better than ten years ago.
To be meek––to recognize that I can’t solve every problem, that I am not strong enough by myself, that I don’t know everything––allows me to tap into the Savior’s limitless strength and wisdom. Attitude counts for so much when carrying one’s burdens. I think that dropping my “woe is me” attitude from years ago to be a little more light hearted and to take myself less seriously has made my yoke lighter, helping me “submit cheerfully and with patience” to any burden (Mosiah 24:15, BoM).
I really love Handel’s pairing of Isaiah 40:11 (OT) and Matthew 11:28-29 in the Messiah duet, He shall feed His flock/Come unto Him. Whatever our stage in life, the Savior can help us find rest to our souls.
I hope you enjoy this (non-copyrighted) rendition of He shall feed his flock from Handel’s Messiah. I sang it last week and wanted to share it with you.
A short thought for today as I have reflected on the true opposite of fear. In a previous post I identified the opposite of fear as “fearlessness” but in the scriptures I see a different opposite emerging. When you consider Paul’s teaching in 2 Timothy 1:7, that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” it seems pretty clear that the opposite of fear is power/Godly strength, love, and a sound mind (I think of stability, clarity in judgment).
Jacob’s preaching to the Nephites recorded in Jacob 3:2 bears this out in my mind. He writes: “receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.” Jacob’s words struck me as a prophetic repetition (when multiple prophets teach the same principle in different times and places), inviting the people to enjoy the bounty of God’s love through His word (teachings, doctrine, repentance, etc.). The finally phrase suggested to me that we can enjoy God’s love forever if our “minds are firm,” but also that God’s love builds firmness of mind or a “sound mind.”
Fear can be so unsettling, especially to the human mind. Fear can cause doubt, anxiety, lapses in judgment, crises of faith, despair, and more. But if we feast on God’s love, we can have a firm mind, namely neither be fearful nor be subject to the effects of fear. In God’s love we can experience peace and hope, exercise sound judgment, be wise and calm, find optimism and rest.
The promise for “rest” in the next life from specific conditions of mortality intrigues me, especially the conditions listed as hallmarks of the mortal experience. As I read this verse I wondered, “what is the “hard bondage” of mortality that we have been “made to serve?” Not everyone on earth has lived or will live in formal servitude but somehow mortality is defined by a type of bondage that all humans serve.
The word “made” could be interpreted literally as “God created us.” We were created to take on mortality and experience life in a physical body. In a way it’s a bondage of the spirit in a physical body, something divine and immortal tied to something mortal and dying. But other conditions of mortality create other scenarios of bondage. What about the human predilection for addiction or vices such as lying that ensnare our mortal bodies, compromise our agency and limit our freedom?
When we become attuned to the ways in which our spirits suffer from addiction, sin, interpersonal conflict, and more, God’s promise of rest in the next life becomes so much more poignant.
I love patterns and the scriptures are in no short supply. Some of my favorite Gospel patterns include pairings of opposites; I always find enlightenment in pondering how the Gospel resolves these antithetical equations.
Second Nephi 24:3 revolves around such a pattern. It contrasts eternity and mortality, promising rest in eternity as a salve to specific conditions of mortality. “And it shall come to pass in that day [the millennium/the day of resurrection, signaling the “start” of eternity from a human perspective] that the Lord shall give thee rest, from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.”
“Rest” is here presented as a condition of eternity. It resolves sorrow, fear, and bondage which serve as fundamental markers of the human experience. If eternity is the antithesis to mortality, then sorrow, fear, and bondage are the conditions of mortality and antithetical experiences to eternal life. In which case, we can identify defining characteristics of eternal life as the opposites of sorrow, fear, and bondage: namely joy, fearlessness, and freedom.