Take a Real Rest

One of the first Bibles my mom ever gave me was hot pink. It was called The Message: Remix. It came in a plastic sleeve to protect the outside texture of the Bible, which felt rubbery and gel-like to the touch. It was very hip for the early 2000s, and I loved it.

I filled that Bible with scribbles and sticky notes about how Jesus was showing Himself to me. Even as a young girl, I was astounded by the way Jesus loved me. I kept a cup of highlighters and pens on my bedside table and carefully highlighted passages that stuck out.

But there was always one passage in the Message version that jumped out more than any other: Matthew 11:28-30.

These few verses have always been some of my favorites in general, but there’s a difference in the poetry and cadence written inside the Message translation than any other translation I’ve read before.

In the New International Version, the verses read like this: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The verses are beautiful — and every single time I read them, I take a deep breath, slowing myself down enough to picture the kind of rest Jesus offers.

But when I read it in the Message, I start to cry. Reading the verses in this translation, I can picture Jesus in front of me, asking me the questions to my face, calling me by name.

He says this:

“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.”

I underlined and highlighted those words because I wanted so badly to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Years later, my gel-like hot pink Bible felt a bit too bright for me, but the words inside remained an anchor, because this particular translation of the Scripture is a reading Bible. It was translated from the original Greek and Hebrew Scriptures by scholar, pastor, author, and poet Eugene H. Peterson, and thoroughly reviewed and approved by twenty biblical scholars. The Message combines the authority of God’s Word with the cadence and energy of conversational English.

Last year, I carefully hand lettered The Message translation of Matthew 11:28-30. As I drew each letter, my hands curved against the cool tip of the pen, I asked Jesus to give me this kind of rest.

Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Oh — how I want my life to feel free and light. And Jesus only asks me to keep company with Him. It’s like He’s saying, “Hang out with me, Aliza, and your life will be light.”

His presence dwells in me and around me. Jesus is with me at work, when I feel stressed and frazzled. He is with me in my grief, when my heart weighs as heavy as an elephant. He is with me in each moment; His presence delighting in me everywhere I go.

And because I am keeping company with Jesus — because I am walking with Him — He shows me real rest.

Can you take a moment for me? Can you read this passage out loud to yourself, slowly and thoughtfully, inserting your name? Maybe read it twice or three times. Take a deep breath before you do. Let these words sink into you. Let Jesus offer you real rest today, friend.

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.

I pray this rest over you today and every day. May we all learn to keep company with Jesus and live freely and lightly.

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I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. -Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
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