Several years ago my wife and I went through what the Bible calls an “evil day” (Ephesians 6:13). The challenge with our “evil day” is it lasted almost two years. The church my wife and I served as pastor went through an involuntary church plant, otherwise known as a church split. Several people we loved and had close relationship with left without a word. Many of them turned their backs on us whenever we saw them in a public place. Several letters filled with unfounded accusations and lies about us were sent to our entire congregation.
During this same time, one of my children was going through a physical and emotional battle, and toward the end of this season my dad passed away suddenly. My wife and I were heavy hearted and emotionally worn down by the events of this season of spiritual attack. We were actually contemplating leaving the church once things began to settle down because of the daily challenge of navigating several storms we were going through at the same time.
It seems the enemy uses the “pile up” method to attempt to move us off our assigned place in the kingdom. The only thing that kept us sane during the emotional, financial, and relationship pressures we faced was daily, intimate time with Jesus and our relationships with close kingdom friends and mentors. Our relationship with Pastor Bob and Joy Nichols, of Calvary Cathedral in Ft. Worth, Texas was a special lifeline for us during this time.
While I was thinking about these events for the “umpteenth” time one day, I began to unintentionally defend myself to myself regarding all the unfounded accusations former friends had brought against me. I then began to bring these things before the Lord. Immediately I heard God speak clearly to me with this question, “Whose father is speaking these things about you?” I responded with, “What do you mean, Lord?” To which He answered, “It’s not Me who is saying these things of you, so it is not necessary for you to respond to them. They are not true of you.”
Wow! What a powerful revelation the Lord made known to me that day. I was to only focus on what He says of me. This was extremely freeing for me and brought great peace and rest to my soul. All the striving, confusion, and emotional stress I had been dealing with for months left in a moment’s time, and it was replaced with a peace I could not wrap my head around. He replaced all that heaviness and despair with hope and joy. Praise God! One encounter with the Living God like this can transform your life, help you avoid emotional burnout, and help you fulfill your God given assignment.
I was reminded of the following passage where Jesus appeals to all who are going through similar challenges to follow His counsel and remedy:
Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
One of the major keys to establishing a prosperous soul is coming to Jesus regularly for rest. Life and ministry apart from these daily, intimate times with Him will wear you out. Janice and I were feeling worn out and tempted to quit. But coming to Jesus daily during that time produced peace and provided us with God’s perspective, which we could not have received on our own. Especially after this encounter with the Lord, our souls began to prosper again. That is a whole lot better than burning out and quitting our assignment.
Your soul must rest in order to prosper just like your body needs rest in order to be in good health. Yet oftentimes you and I are not allowing our souls to be at rest. When we allow our souls to become weighed down with pressures, stress, anxiety, and cares, we are not in a place of rest. An un-restful soul is an un-prosperous soul. This kind of soul works so hard that it prevents the body from resting which leads to burnout, exhaustion, depression, and physical problems. The antidote to this is coming to Jesus daily and casting your cares over on Him.
Jesus is telling us in His Word a primary cause of people failing to find rest for their souls is due to taking yokes and burdens on themselves that are not from Him! People often make commitments to others because of fear they will not be accepted, liked, or approved by them. This is the fear of man that results in a soul not being at rest. It is a self-made prison and trap of the enemy designed to keep you out of the purpose God has for your life. It happens in the workplace, social circles, ministries and churches. People will place demands on you, but to say “yes” to each one is to take on more than Jesus gave you.
Jesus did not say “yes” to every person or situation and neither should we. Engaging in activities and taking on responsibilities initiated by man instead of the Holy Spirit is a recipe for failure. It creates an un-restful soul. Failure to remedy this emotional condition will typically result in people becoming worn out, frustrated, and quitting everything, including the things the Lord did lead them to do! If you want your soul to rest and prosper, you must come to Jesus and find out what things He has assigned to you. That is the only burden He expects you to carry.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He does not put heavy loads on you. Does He give you responsibility? Yes, because you are to carry out His mission, but it is not burdensome, exhausting, or overwhelming. If it is burdensome or heavy, it is not Jesus. Success in life and ministry comes by developing a vibrant, intimate relationship with Jesus and discovering what He has led you to do and doing no more or less than that. Knowing what He has called you to do and being able to say “no” to everything else will produce peace and is necessary for a restful, healthy, and prosperous soul.
The Greek word for rest is anapausis which means “a pause; intermission; refresh” or “to take ease.” Many people turn to hobbies or some form of entertainment when things become stressful. This is rest and an intermission to them. It is a way for them to retreat and escape the pressures of life. While there is nothing wrong with physical entertainment and fun, it will never bring complete rest. At best, it is a temporary relief. True rest can only be found in the presence of Jesus. You can only receive ease, refreshing, and intermission for your soul by coming to Jesus and leaving the stress, worries, pressure, and even the dishes behind.
Each of us needs to find peace inside our relationship with Jesus while things in our world are unresolved or less than perfect. This can be difficult when the bills, pressures, housework, and other responsibilities are piling up in your life. Your natural mind desires to take over and work even harder to get it all done. The better thing to do when facing these kinds of challenges is to take an anapausis and rest in the presence of Jesus. It is there you will be able to refocus, receive God’s perspective, and find both wisdom and peace that will bring rest and refreshing to your soul.
Greg Mohr is the Director of Charis Bible College in Woodland Park, Colorado. He is also a conference speaker and author and served as Senior Pastor of River of Life Church in Decatur, Texas for 24 years. He is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and has earned a Master’s degree in Leadership from Southwestern Christian University in Bethany, Oklahoma. Greg is married to his best friend, Janice. Together they have four children and eleven grandchildren.