God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.
—MARY BAKER EDDY
IN THREE PROFOUND SENTENCES Christ Jesus revealed the way of finding true rest: "Come unto me, all ye that labour 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" (Matt. 11: 28-30).
Many people want to find rest in a literal sense—simply getting a good night's sleep. Others yearn for rest from fears of disease, pain, lack, loneliness, or aging. Some long for relief from overwhelming work-related demands or the burdens of caregiving. Whatever one's need, true rest can be found in Christ, in the divine truth Jesus embodied, taught, and demonstrated.
Come unto me
An invitation calls for a response. Jesus didn't invite us to come to him as a personal savior, but to the healing, saving Christ, the truth of God that lifts and lightens all burdens and provides true rest. Coming to Christ requires not only turning to Truth but turning from whatever seems to oppress and weary us.
And finding this sense of God's guiding presence—of divine Life's presence in our everyday experience, supports us in our progress. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "This sense of Life illumes our pathway with the radiance of divine Love; heals man spontaneously, morally and physically,—exhaling the aroma of Jesus' own words, 'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest'" (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, pp. 19-20). Jesus' invitation, echoing down the centuries, breathes the fragrance of divinity. His inspired words are perfumed with the Love that not only gives us rest, but also heals.
All ye that labour and are heavy laden
How appealing Jesus' invitation must have been to the hard-working fishermen, laborers in farms and vineyards, tradespeople, and others who followed him as he walked by the seaside and throughout their villages. As they listened to this Galilean preacher, their weariness must have dropped away, leaving them refreshed, enlightened, and healed. Christ Jesus' entreaty appeals equally to today's laborers.
Yet, feeling "heavy laden" isn't always caused by demanding work. Sometimes it comes from feeling inadequate, imposed upon, or unable to live up to others' expectations. Whether physically exhausted, mentally overtaxed, or emotionally drained, we can each find whatever relief we need in Christ.
And I will give you rest
Jesus could promise rest in Christ because he proved this throughout his entire ministry. Mary Baker Eddy pointed out that "the human Jesus had a resort to his higher self and relation to the Father, and there could find rest from unreal trials in the conscious reality and royalty of his being,—holding the mortal as unreal, and the divine as real" (No and Yes, p. 36).
We, too, can resort to our spiritual selfhood and our oneness with inexhaustible Spirit. Through daily study of the Bible and Science and Health we gradually progress in the understanding of our spiritual identity as the image of our heavenly Father. As we catch ever clearer glimpses of the truth of who we really are as divine Mind's eternal, spiritual ideas, the perception of being mortal, material personalities begins to fall away, and we find ourselves proving more and more our higher selfhood, which can never become weary, never be subject to material conditions. Like our Master, Christ Jesus, we, too, can "find rest from unreal trials," by accepting the "reality and royalty" of our true status as sons and daughters of God.
Among the trials from which Jesus took refuge in his higher selfhood, the Christ, were the malice and enmity of those who opposed his mighty healing works—his mission to awaken humanity to the understanding of spiritual existence. When we are oppressed by criticism, condemnation, or hatred, we have the same recourse. The impersonal resistance of the carnal mind to our spirituality can be negated by identifying ourselves as God's offspring. The carnal mind can't see or know our spiritual individuality. This individuality is forever hidden in "the secret place of the most High" (Ps. 91:1), a sanctuary where we can always find safe repose.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me
The yoke can be thought of as a symbol of the cross—the world's resistance to Truth and to spiritual means of healing. But our Master tells us that if we will learn from him, we will discover how the yoke can become easy, and the burden light.
One Bible scholar points out that "The yoke of Christ's commands is an easy yoke; there is nothing in it to gall the yielding neck, nothing to hurt us, but, on the contrary, much to refresh us. It is a yoke that is lined with love .... It may be a little hard at first, but it is easy afterwards; the love of God and the hope of heaven will make it easy. The burden of Christ's cross is a light burden, very light" (Matthew Henry's Commentary, 1961, p. 1263).
For I am meek and lowly in heart
Although Christ Jesus was the mightiest man who ever lived, he was also the meekest. He knew that it was through his divine Father that he was able to accomplish all that he did. Jesus' patience, forbearance, and tolerance teach us that there is no possibility for negative reactions in meekness. No mockery, slander, or persecution could elicit anger from Jesus. He lived what he taught in the Sermon on the Mount: "I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39). Through meekness, Christ Jesus maintained the consciousness of his inseparability from divine Principle, Love. He transcended the agony of the cross and provided the glorious proof of resurrection.
And ye shall find rest unto your souls
Jesus' timeless promise of rest is proven by all who take up his yoke, the cross of the world's resistance to Truth, and emulate his example of meekness. We catch a glimpse in these words of how Mrs. Eddy wore this yoke. She wrote, "In the midst of depressing care and labor I turn constantly to divine Love for guidance, and find rest. It affords me great joy to be able to attest to the truth of Jesus' words. Love makes all burdens light, it giveth a peace that passeth under-standing, and with 'signs following'" (Mis., p. 133).
Let's see how we, too, can "attest to the truth of Jesus' words" when challenged by extraordinary demands. For example, caring for newborns and small children challenges young parents to demonstrate energy and vigor, despite interruptions in their normal sleep patterns. But their selfless love for their little ones, reflecting the Father-Mother Love of God, is a sustaining power. Unselfed love doesn't wear out and can't be worn down because it emanates from a divine source, inexhaustible divine Love. There is no element of self in this love, only a desire to bless others. When motivated by unselfed love in the care of small children, elderly parents, or a dear one who is ailing, caregivers receive directly from God a power that not only sustains them but renews their energy and endurance day by day.
Today many adults in their middle years are faced with the dual challenge of raising children and providing care for parents or other relatives of advancing years. Such caregivers, who often hold down demanding jobs as well, may struggle with a sense of burden. But motivated by unselfed love, they are given both the strength and the grace that enable them to respond to multiple demands and still rest in Christ. Grace, that beautiful gift of God that enables us to transcend adversities, also imparts tenderness, compassion, patience, and forberance. When these Christly qualities undergird caregiving, there won't be reactions of fatigue or exhaustion.
Those actively engaged in the healing ministry of Christian Science as nurses and practitioners are faced every day with the need to find rest in Christ. Their work requires the demonstration of much spiritual stamina. Science and Health teaches that "God rests in action. Imparting has not impoverished, can never impoverish, the divine Mind. No exhaustion follows the action of this Mind, according to the apprehension of divine Science. The highest and sweetest rest, even from a human standpoint, is in holy work" (pp. 519-520). The understanding of these truths sustains spiritual caregivers in their holy work.
Nearly everyone, regardless of age or particular activity, is sometimes challenged by fatigue. Thinking of ourselves as personally responsible for the job we have to do may lead to burnout. Whereas being conscious of the fact that we reflect the divine energy of tireless Mind refreshes and invigorates.
If we have minimal sleep due to heavy demands at work or at home, we don't have to pay a penalty. Immunity to beliefs of sleep—deprivation comes from understanding that true rest has its source in Christ. Science and Health affirms, "The consciousness of Truth rests us more than hours of repose in unconsciousness"(p. 218). Like many Christian Science practitioners, I've had abundant proof of this truth. When awakened from sleep by a call for prayerful help, I may pray for the patient quite a while before settling down again. Sometimes I don't get back to sleep, but remain awake continuing to pray until morning. I can honestly say that I do not feel "sleep-deprived" the next day, but am able to carry on as actively as usual.
Sometimes we're challenged to overcome a different kind of fatigue. Should a healing be delayed, the temptation to be weary of the struggle may present itself. If tempted along these lines, it's good to remember that, as Science and Health states, "The struggle for Truth makes one strong instead of weak, resting instead of wearying one" (p. 426).
An example of this truth came from a member of Mrs. Eddy's last class in 1898, Sue Harper Mims. She wrote that Mrs. Eddy gave the class "... a beautiful interpretation of what it means to 'run, and not be weary; ... walk, and not faint' (Isa. 40:31). She takes it right into metaphysics. When we are working to overcome error, or are handling a case that does not seem to yield, we shall not be discouraged or wearied by the work, nor can there be any reaction. We shall go on without suffering or being weary, even though the demonstration is slow" (We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, p. 137).
When working prayerfully to overcome a stubborn problem, we can learn to find rest in Christ. The Apostle Paul admonished, "Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Gal. 6:9). That "due season" of healing will surely appear if we are persistent in our prayers. Truth is never poured forth without bringing a beneficial change.
Whether physically exhausted, mentally overtaxed, or emotionally drained, we can each find whatever relief we need in Christ.
If we wanted to remove varnish from a table, we would follow the directions on the label and apply the remover. We would expect a change to result from this application. We might have to make repeated applications until the varnish would be entirely removed. But each application would make a difference until the work was complete. Similarly, in our healing prayers, we follow the rules of divine Science and intelligently apply specific spiritual truths to counteract and correct the specific errors of belief needing to be removed from thought. We expect every treatment or application of truth to effect a change and move us forward toward healing.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
Earlier I quoted a Bible scholar who describes Christ's yoke as easy because it is lined with love. Should we feel weighed down by cares and multiple demands, we can put on this yoke. The more clearly we understand God as Love itself, and strive to reflect His love, the easier the yoke will become and the lighter our burdens will be.
Christ's tender invitation, "Come unto me," is extended to everyone. Let's gratefully accept it and find our true rest.
Dorcas Strong is a Christian Science teacher and practitioner who lives in Cleveland, Ohio.