Matthew 11:28-30 has appeared in my life several times in the past few days. It reads:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”
– Jesus (NLT)
If you have ever been hiking with a pack that does not fit well or worn a pair of shoes that are too tight, you know the discomfort that an ill fit can cause you. The perfect fit is something that we all look for – whether it be with our clothing, our relationships, or our career choices. So for Jesus to say that His yoke – the one he gives to us – fits perfectly is a pretty impressive statement. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself trying to squeeze into the things that I think I should be into in life. I try to make myself work in a situation that is clearly not what God had planned. Sometimes, the squeezing is out of convenience (we don’t like to get up and move if sitting on the couch is feeling nice and cozy) and sometimes it is born from pressure from others. Either way, it is not what we were made for.
I have heard and read this verse countless times, but I must have always missed the fitting perfectly part. True, it is probably a quirk of the New Living Translation, but being that my go-to study Bible is written in this translation, I know that I’ve seen it before. I had always focused on the rest for the weary part and been puzzled at why we would find rest if Jesus were just going to give us another burden. It seemed counter-productive. Now, something finally clicked. This verse is not about getting off easy. It is about putting down trying to squeeze into a situation that you were not made for and taking up what God has for you instead. When something fits you well, it is not cumbersome. I have a camping backpack that fits my back like it was molded especially for me. I can carry a heavy load without feeling bogged down. Yet somehow my run of the mill school backpack makes my shoulders ache if I carry more than about twenty pounds. I could argue that this means I was made for the wilderness and not academia. I doubt that there is much truth in that. It is all about what fits best. And let me give you a hint, what Jesus gives you will always fit best. He should know, he made your shoulders. He knows what they can handle.