After about 10 days without a real break, I made myself rest yesterday. I sat on my deck and enjoyed the sounds of life surrounding me. I read a good book with beautiful music playing. I did a few household chores, but mostly- I rested! As a result of easing up on the throttle, so to speak, when it was time to actually time go to bed, I quickly fell into a deep and peaceful sleep, my heart overflowing with thankfulness for the peace of God.
God told the Jews that one of the ways they would be marked as belonging to Him would be an observance of a weekly day of rest. One day in 7 was to be free of work, focused on rest and worship, for the purpose of creating space for reflection and finding renewal. While I do not read the Scripture as requiring a Sabbath law for Christians, I do see a principle that we ignore to our peril. When we become so convinced that we must work for days on end, that we cannot take time to rest, that worship is a luxury we cannot afford – we become deceived about our self-importance and lose sight of God’s love and provision for us.
Spiritually, we discover something of critical importance about ‘resting’ in the book of Hebrews, where we read of the ‘Sabbath rest’ available to the people of God. God invites us into a place of serenity, where our souls are settled securely in the covenant promise of the Lord. “Since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” (Hebrews 4:1-2, NIV) Unbelief, a refusal to accept the grace of Christ, leads us to frantic activity that destroys our peace with God..
Are you working to try to save yourself?
Are you troubled that you might not be ‘good enough for God?’
Does your insecurity drive you to do more without joy?
Unless you are living in some deliberate, unconfessed sin – you need not let your heart be troubled. Christ Jesus fully completed the work of making us right with God. It’s done! Oh yes, we are called to work out the implications of that salvation as disciples of Jesus. We are gifted by the Spirit to serve, but not in a frantic way, not to prove our worth to God. Working with God is so much more fulfilling than working for Him. Have you forgotten that Jesus calls us brothers not servants, that He invites to live as members of the family of God, not merely as servants in the household of God?
If we are constantly working hard in an attempt to earn His blessings or to salve our battered conscience, our efforts will be dutiful, exhausting; self-focused. This misplaced focus becomes a source of a temptation to settle for ‘looking good’ rather than actually allowing the Spirit to make us beautifully holy. When we engage in serving the Lord because we love Him even those things that could be drudgery, take on meaning: the same tasks, yes; but, done with a different motive.
But, if we rest fully on the completed work of Christ, we find continual renewal, more effectiveness, and peace ‘’that passes human understanding” even in the worst of times.
Meditate on Jesus’ words. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV) He has prepared a place of soul rest for you. It is not the kind of rest we find in a hammock in the backyard on a Summer afternoon. It’s a sense of fulfillment and purpose that comes from knowing His covenant love and the security that results.
Do you need to tell yourself ‘just give it a rest!’?
Bring that matter that troubles your soul to Him.
Ask for wisdom, for help, for acceptance – and ‘enter His rest.’
Here is a word from the Word – “The LORD protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” (Psalm 116:6-8, NIV)
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!