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December 29, 2018

Unusual Roads to Stress Relief

By Daniel Im

What are you holding onto? Or maybe the real question is, what’s holding onto you?

Take a moment and think through each of these questions:

  • When you post a picture on social media, how often do you find yourself pulling out your phone to check the number of likes, views, or comments?
  • When things get stressful, what do you do to relieve the pressure?
  • When you feel like you’re at the end of your rope, what do you turn to?
  • When you’re happy and joyful, what caused it?
  • When you’re satisfied and content, what were the factors that led to it?

Your answers to each of these questions reveal what you’re holding onto, or what’s holding onto you…

…because we don’t turn to the things we do for no reason.

Matthew 11:28-30 has always been one of those passages that I would not only use when counseling, discipling, and mentoring others…but also personally when feeling burdened and overwhelmed.

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matt 11:28-30 CSB

Last year, while preaching through the wisdom literature in the Scriptures, there was this one particular Sunday where I compared Godly wisdom against Earthly wisdom in Proverbs 7. While this is a common theme throughout the wisdom literature, this proverb explicitly illustrates what happens when you walk down the path of the world versus the path of God.

There are no shades of grey in this Proverb.

It clearly shows that sin has a cost, and its name is death. Sin results in hell, but I’m not just talking about eternity here…I’m also talking about hell on earth.

After all, while the enemy might whisper into our ears to try and convince us that we can outsmart others, or live duplicitous lives, God’s ways will always prevail because his light will shine and cast out darkness.

Sin is like a teenager with a credit card—enjoy now, pay later. After all, “Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned? Can a man walk on burning coals without scorching his feet?” (Prov 6:27-28 CSB)

I ended the sermon by sharing the way to embrace Godly wisdom.

No, I didn’t preach behavior modification, since it’s only the Holy Spirit through the power of the gospel that can truly bring about change in our hearts.

I shared that we need to humble ourselves and come before the Lord in confession, so that we can rest in the one who truly cares for our souls. And that’s when I read Matt 11:28-30 and unpacked it for my church.


In fact, while I sort of understood what a yoke was, I often deemphasized those words and instead focused on coming to Christ and finding rest in him.

Oh how I missed the point of this passage!

Jesus is essentially saying, “Stop yoking yourself to what can only further burden and slow you down. Stop yoking yourself to the ways of this world—the temporary and the fleeting. Instead, take up my yoke…”

When I think of a yoke, I think of a pair of oxen working with one another to pull something.

While the yoke is helpful, since two can obviously pull more weight than one, it is also helpful to maintain forward movement, even when one of the oxen’s are tired or weak.

In this passage, Jesus is inviting us to join him and take up his yoke!

He’s not asking us to coast by getting on his back or jumping on the trailer that he’s pulling. He’s asking us to pull with him, and learn from him.

If that’s not a picture for how we ought to disciple others, I don’t know what is.

But let’s be honest with ourselves here…it’s ridiculous to think that we’ll ever pull our fair share of the weight when yoked with Jesus. But that’s what’s beautiful about this specific invitation from Christ.

Life is stressful.

Life is burdensome. And there’s always more to do than there is time in the day. With the 5000+ marketing messages that we get on a daily basis, we’re consistently barraged by the world telling us that we are what we do, we are what we have, and we are who we know.


He is inviting us to come to him with our burdens, needs, everything we’re holding onto, and everything that’s holding onto us, and he promises us freedom, rest, and peace from all of it.

Will you accept his invitation today?




Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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