I was a complete mess. The husband was yet at another evening meeting, so I was stuck with two young children and a baby at witching hour.
When we got home from our daily walk in the park, the three-year-old did not want to take off his shoes and was prancing around the living room, creating dirty, muddy puddles everywhere. Then he proceeded to pour his cup of water all over the floor after I told him to get himself a drink.
Meanwhile, his six-year-old sister decided her storybook was more interesting than my repeated call for help at the dinner table. To top it all off, as I portioned out their dinner, our little two-month-old, who was in the baby carrier so I could free up my hands, began screaming her lungs out in a kicking frenzy, cranky for a nap.
When, midway through his meal, my son accidentally tipped his entire bowl of rice all over the floor—I completely lost it. Shouting words of anger, I stood and turned my back, and with the baby still hanging against my chest, shut myself in the drying area, bawling my eyes out.
A few days later, during my quiet time, I saw that the devotional header was on “gentle parenting” and thought, oh boy, was I in for a real guilt-trip.
Take my burden upon you, the main text read, for my burden is easy and my yoke is light. Come to me, all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Was God not going to show me how I had failed as a parent? Were the words not meant to be rebuke after rebuke for my wickedness and incompetency as a mother?
Come and rest.
Instead of scolding, I received an invitation. One so gentle, it brought me to my knees.
Matthew 11:28-30 is a familiar passage to many. Here, the Lord Jesus issues two invitations for the weary and heavy laden: the first, “Come to me” (v.28), and the second, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (v.29). Likewise, He provides two reasons for His invitations—”I’m gentle and lowly in heart” and “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (v.29). And twice, He promises rest: “I will give you rest” (v.28), and “you will find rest for your souls” (v.29).
While I responded to my children with anger and harsh words, my gentle Lord called out to me with an invitation to rest, doubled with a promise that I could learn from Him. He tells us He is lowly in heart, insomuch that He humbled Himself to meet us at our lowest. Not with the sword of judgement, but with open arms, saying, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.
I had read this passage many times before, but that morning, it was like reading it for the very first time.
And it was His gentle way that provoked my tears. Only this time, they were not tears of anger or helplessness, but of relief and pure joy. In His presence, I could come to Him weary and heavy laden. Nothing was more wonderful than the realisation I had that evening— that He could give me rest despite my circumstances.
Since that outburst, I have taken to staying up an hour later or waking up an hour earlier every day, just to withdraw to a quiet place and meet the Lord. How else will I find true rest for my soul, if I do not intentionally spend time with Him who is “gentle and lowly at heart” (v.29)?
Despite His busyness, Jesus found time to withdraw to lonely and quiet places to commune with His Father—a poignant lesson for this newly minted mother-of-three. Withdrawing to pray and read the Bible has helped me better cope with the busyness of my everyday life, because I know I am not running on empty, and Jesus is there to carry my burdens for me.
With the onset of Advent, a very busy season looms ahead for Christians. I already know I’ll be overwhelmed with a range of things to organise such as gatherings, meals, evangelistic events, Christmas services . . . the list goes on.
While these events may not be bad in and of themselves, will they rob us of the joy of meeting with the Lord, the real reason for this season? Would we choose to carry our own burdens or put on the yoke of Christ?
I don’t know what your to-do schedule is like, but if today, you are weary and heavy laden, won’t you accept the invitation of our gentle Saviour? He’s calling us to find true rest in Him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.