“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” by Louis A. Dole

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Wayne [Maine] July ’62

“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.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Readings

Jeremiah 21 · Matthew 11:16-30 · Psalm 95

Sermon

This invitation is extended to all people. There are times when we need help. Sometimes it is help to lift our worldly burdens; sometimes it is the help of others when we are sick, or our bodily strength fails. Sometimes we need help to carry our burden of sorrow. And perhaps most often of all we need relief from anxieties.

All are dependent upon others during infancy and during childhood. And we might note that it is this dependence upon others and not upon their own powers that gives children freedom from anxiety and their bright outlook upon life. They look forward to the future with joyful anticipation. It is only when the cares of the world enter their lives that fears and doubts arise.

There must certainly be few adults who at some time have not felt the need of help. And if there is anyone who has not felt a need of others, anyone who feels sufficient unto himself to meet all his needs and solve all his problems, he is not to be envied. We were created to be of service to others.

The invitation is for all, and it should be evident that it is needed by all. We are not sufficient unto ourselves.

Usually the words “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden” are applied to the thought of death. They indeed apply to our passing into the spiritual world, but they also apply to life here. Sometimes we long for someone to whom we can go that we may be strengthened and find rest; not merely rest for the body, but rest from anxiety, rest from the heaviness of sorrow. We are not lights unto ourselves. We must be given light where the way is dark. Sometimes our light seems to go out, and the future looks dark. In many ways we continually need help.

Look into the souls of men. Look beyond the outer veil of pleasant word and smiling greeting. Is there anyone whom we know who does not carry a burden, who does not have to labor to keep the fire burning in his heart? How welcome, then, should be the call “Come unto me!”

But whom does this call of the Lord summon into His presence? It is natural for us to call into our presence and to desire the company of those who are cheerful, uncomplaining, and who have the means to help us. The pessimistic, the complaining, the sorrowing, those who are seeking to cast their burden upon us, it is natural to shun. But the Lord says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden.”

We all in some way labor and are heavy laden. The call appeals to us. But how shall we start? What is it to “come?” Where is the Lord that I may go to Him? Today there are those who make pilgrimages to different places in the hope of getting help. We do not have to go to any earthly place to find the Lord. We need not go to Samaria or to Jerusalem, or into the wilderness. Like the kingdom of heaven which is within, the Lord comes into our minds and hearts as we go to the Word for His guidance and help. Indeed He ever stands at the door knocking and waiting to be received.

How often have we thought, “If only I could have this or that, I would be happy!” But no one ever found happiness in that way. The realization of such dreams would not bring victory, but would only postpone it.

So, in various ways, in our shortsightedness we wander about seeking that which satisfieth not. External things have no power to create happiness. They may delight one for a while, but the rest we crave cannot be found in the abundance of possessions.

What, then, can give us rest? It is a power that comes from within. It is the light that shows the Lord’s way to be best, the best now, the best forever, always an eternal gain.

Suppose two forks of a road. A signboard of one reads, “Rough for a very short distance, then a heavenly paradise.” The other reads, “Smooth and down grade for a short distance; then deserts, miasma, and destruction.” Which road would any wise person take? He would work his way uphill, over the rough places to the paradise of beauty and rest. We should visualize these two ways, for they are always set before us: first, the way we all naturally want to go, the way that appears magnificent at the start; second, the way we do not want to go, the way for a time beset with difficulties, hardships, and possibly suffering. The easy way, which can be easily followed because it is down grade, will surely lead to a spiritual desert, wilderness, and everlasting destruction. The way that is at first uphill and rough, the difficult way, the way of our trials and pains, opens out into a heavenly and eternal paradise. These two ways are very real; we should see them clearly. For if we know of the paradise just ahead, is not the rough way made easy? Surely, if we see this, it will become hard to choose the way pleasant for a short distance and then ruinous.

The day is brilliant and inviting. The task of the school room and desk seems unattractive. But the parent says, “You must deny your desires for a time, and bend to the hard labor.” But why? That the child may gain mental strength, and be equipped for uses a little later.

We are all the Lord’s children. We may long for the temporary benefits and delights, but our Heavenly Father knows what is best, and so leads us that by means of our burdens we may gain spiritual strength and be equipped for use in the life everlasting.

The power then that can give us rest is in seeing the way, in knowing the final results. This seeing the way and knowing the results comes by an internal way. It is a mighty power, and can give rest to our souls.

Truth is mighty. By it the Lord overcame. By it we are given strength and comfort, enabling us to find rest in the Divine. But if we do not know the truth, if we do not trust in the Divine Providence, what then?

Those who do not trust in the Lord or know the mansion which He is building for Himself in the soul, can only trust in the world and in themselves. With zeal they may seek worldly possessions and may seek to gain dominion over others, and put their trust in their own power and possessions. If they do not succeed, they grieve; they become heavy-hearted and distressed. They are anxious about the future, and grow more and more dejected and disquieted in heart. We know this; we see it on every hand.

“Come unto me,” says the Lord, and if we do, we shall not be distressed by our lot. We shall find Him who can give us power to carry our burdens and can give us rest. The yoke was made not to do away with carrying burdens, but to make the carrying easier. Those who trust in the Divine Providence do not have anxieties or needless grief, nor are they heavy-hearted. They cast their burden upon the Lord, and He gives them strength. If riches increase and all their natural desires are gratified, they do not count such things as of supreme worth. If they lose, they know that, though they lose natural things, such loss is conducive to promotion in the world without end. They see the two sign-boards and inwardly rejoice even in the valley of shadows, for they trust in the Lord.

So the Lord says to everyone, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Rest comes by an internal way from the Lord.

“Take my yoke upon you.” What is His yoke? It is love. How easy it is to do a thing that we love to do! It requires work to build a house, to care for the sick, to perform the various duties of our occupations. If we have to be compelled to do these things, how heavy is the yoke! But if we do them from love, the yoke becomes an easy one. “My yoke is easy.” The Lord’s love for all mankind gave Him the power to accomplish all of His mighty works. “My burden is light.” Love makes every burden light. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The Lord laid down His life for us because He so loved us. “Take my yoke upon you.” Join yourselves to your duty with such love as the Lord has. Then the burden must grow light.

Yes, we serve those we love, and know not our waning strength until the body fails. We should prepare ourselves that we may be fit recipients of this love. Then we shall surely find the rest promised to the soul. Give unto us of Thy meekness and lowliness of heart, that we may be worthy of this promised rest, which is Thy great blessing.

Amen

Read the original sermon in PDF format

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