Come to Me | A Year of Christian Habitus Formation

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I heard the erratic fluttering of wings as I walked down the stairs of the parking garage. I turned the corner of the landing to see a pigeon, frazzled and feathers strewn everywhere, struggling against the glass to get to the trees on the other side. It’s neck looked frayed and thin, and I imagined the distressed creature had been there for a day or more.

The pigeon could see the trees—but the invisible barrier was impenetrable.

I set down my bag, and after some resistance, gently coaxed the bird into my cupped hands. “Come to me,” I whispered. “I’m here to help.” The bird became still, and allowed me to hold it. I carried it down one flight of stairs, where no glass was between its flying heart and the trees. No sooner had I set it gently on the railing than it took off into the air.

It was free.

Three Words of Life

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

I love the Word of God.

Like me, some of you have lived enough years to have the Word of God save your life.

By that I mean the Living Word, Jesus, has moved through the written Word, the Scriptures, to literally intervene, to heal, to help, to comfort, to guide, to pierce the chaotic grip of a shaming lie—to quiet you, to turn you, to encourage you, to lead you, and to clarify what is true as it unlocks the wellsprings of joy in your heart.

If that description feels foreign to you, I encourage you to continue to hide the precious words of Scripture in your heart. They will save you one day.

In Matthew 11:28, three of arguably the most important, meaningful, prescient words in all of human history are offered to you and I.

They are Saving Words. Delivering Words. Chain-Breaking, Love-Restoring Words.

They are three words that, in my view, could be said to sum up the essence of the human story narrated by the Scriptures.

These three words, framed as an invitation, have earthy implications as well as cosmic ones.

Because they are spoken by the Living Word Himself, they are words that lead to the greatest of human flourishing the world could and ever will know.

In Matthew 11, Emmanuel, God with us, says to all who have ears to hear in every generation, past and present:

11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Come to Me

There they are. The Three Words of Life.

“Come to me.”

Ah, these words have made sons and daughters out of hellions and haters, free souls out of the self-chained and spirit-tortured. They have felled kingdoms, and raised the lowly to heights of glory.

11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

“Come”—it’s an invitation to intimacy, to union with God through him, to follow.

“To”—it’s a direction, to move toward someone.

“Me”—it’s a Person; it’s an emphatic clarifying of the source of life. Life is found only in His presence.

He says “come to me”—to the one who knows you and loves you more than anyone else ever will or could.

11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

And what does it take to come to someone when we are called?

It takes turning.

The biblical word for turning, the turning of the heart, is… repentance.

The Struggle and the Remedy

And many of us want to come; but we struggle.

We must turn away from something,
the glass pane vision of hope and heaven if you will,
in order to turn toward Jesus as He calls us.

Like the glass that tortured that worn and weary pigeon, a terrified bird who could see the goal but could not get to it, there are sometimes things between us and Jesus that only the Father can see.

Some walls of glass are easy to identify: Pride. Fear. Shame. Disillusionment. 

Other walls of glass are harder to see: Self-deception. Self-preservation. Ideological syncretism. Bitterness.

And turning away—
repentance, surrender, yielding—
is the only way to freedom.

The glass is anything that comes between Jesus and me.
I take up the gift of repentance, because I will die behind this glass
if I don’t, seeing the life I could live and never living it.

If you will show me, Lord, what the glass is,
I will name it, repent of it, turn from it,
yield to your loving words that there is a better life—
come to You that I might be free.

A friend used to tell me

“Dan, self-deception is needing to believe something so badly, we make ourselves believe it.”

We all do it; Jesus wants to fix that. St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “It may also happen that, very suddenly and in a way which cannot be described, God will reveal a truth that is in Himself and that makes any truth to be found in the creatures seem like thick darkness…” (Avila, 195).

Reveal my heart, Lord. Reveal the glass through which I am looking, the glass that is between me and the Real.

I Will Give You Rest

Rest is a thick term, invoking deep and myriad connections throughout the Scriptures. In particular, it points to the first word used for rest in the Scriptures, in Genesis 2:2: “And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.”

The word here is shabbat, where we get the word for Sabbath. It means to cease, to stop, but, more importantly, to celebrate, to revel in, enjoy the fullness of, the wholeness within, the sheer harmony, the residual joy in what has been created and sustained. That’s what Sabbath is all about, and that’s the thick idea of rest that is invoked here.

That soul, Jesus knew, is restless. “The heart is restless,” Augustine famously said, “until it finds its rest in thee.”

Rest, in this passage, is not the antidote to simple tiredness. It is the antidote to its opposite, restlessness. To agitation. To the inability to find peace in our inner or outer world.

Rest is a state of the heart, and the body follows.

According to Jesus, the only answer to it is Him. He is the Prince of Shalom, the Prince of Peace, the Prince of Completeness and Settledness.

Come, All You Who Are Fatigued with Life

Jesus says come to me because he knows the truest salvation of the heart, salvation, coming from the word for healing, like a salve to a wound, is found in him.

He says, come to me, all you who are burdened, agitated, disoriented, fearful, self-confident, self-absorbed, and I will give you wholeness, fullness, subtleness, and the ability to revel in the gifts of God.

11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

He goes on.

“Come to me, all….” That means everyone.

“Come to me, all you….” That means you.

“Who are burdened, weighed down, disturbed agitated, full of inner contradictions and turmoil and struggle.” That means me.

11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Beloved, he says you, now,

“Come to me, all you who are fatigued with life, burdened by the un-carriable and living in a low-level spiritual anxiety, and I will give you healing peace, rest, wholeness, harmony, fullness, closeness, nearness, presence, love.”

You will become

  • People of the Deep Peace
  • People of the Heart at Rest
  • People of the Presence of God

Today, “Come to me,” is the invitation to you, to me, as a follower of Jesus.

Come, with me, to Jesus.

Ask the Father to show you what the panes of glass might be that stand between you and Him. Then, mark out a season of sweet repentance, of turning, journaling and spending the quiet brokennesses that may have been at work in you all this time. As each layer comes clear, ask forgiveness, and take steps to turn.

To come to Jesus, we must each turn away from the panes of glass that promise heaven on the other side. It is a barrier, and only He can lift it.



Recommended Reading:

St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle

Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary

Henri Nouwen, Life of the Beloved

Alan Kreider, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church

Foster and Smith, Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups (Revised and Expanded)

James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love


Recommended Follows for this Week:

Dan Wilt Instagram

Practicing the Way with Jon Mark Comer


Works Cited in A Year of Christian Habitus Formation:

Avila, St. Teresa of Avila, trans. by E. Allison Peers. Interior Castle. Doubleday, 1989.

Bourdieu, Pierre. Pascalian Meditations. Translated by Richard Nice. Stanford University Press, 2000.

Foster, Richard J. and James Bryan Smith. Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups. Revised and Expanded. Renovare, 1993.

Kreider, Alan. The Patient Ferment of the Early Church. Baker Academic, 2016.

Nouwen, Henri. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World. Crossroads Publishing, 2013.

Warren, Tish Harrison. Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life. Intervarsity Press, 2016.

Wallace, J. Randall. “How the Christ Hymn in Phillippians 2:5-11 Informs the Praxis of Leadership in At-Risk Communities: Two Super-Leaders Operationalizing Kenosis,” see article here).


Cover Photo by Angel Balashev on Unsplash


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Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.