After I finished a task, I stepped back to evaluate the outcome, happy for the effort. Unlike the farmer who plants in the Springtime, tends the field through the Summer, and gathers the harvest in the Autumn, many of us work in ways in which our efforts are removed from an actual visible result. Our farmer grandparents surely grew exhausted, but it was a different kind of tired than many of us experience. They had to stop working at dark, were not ‘plugged in’ 24/7 like many of us. There ‘down’ times built into their seasonal lives. Not so with us. What happens? One of the most common complaints in our time is ‘I am worn out.’
Christian, are you weary?
Has your life fatigue flowed over into your faith experience, dulling your soul to the experience of God’s Presence?
Have you abandoned regular times of worship, prayer, and meditation because you are just ‘too tired?’
God offers His people rest.
It is one of those benefits we leave untouched, failing to recognize the amazing renewal of heart and mind, even body, that can be found in Him!
When we worship, as Jesus taught, in ‘Spirit and in Truth,’ we learn a new way to live, a purposeful and meaningful life, that can protect us from the fatigue of endless stress. We work at the same job, but with a different heart. We feel the same pressures to produce results but with an inner strength that comes from His care. We deal with the same frustrations, but are able to commit them to God, to invite Him to work on our behalf.
God asks us to make the choice to prioritize Him, by faith entering a place of peace, even in difficult of circumstances. There is a phrase in Psalm 23 that captivates my imagination. David sings of His God – “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies!” Imagine armies drawn up for battle and a table set with candles, fine tablecloth, and the best china right in the middle of it all. Absurd, you say? But that is what God offers; the renewal of the kind that can be experienced in an intimate dinner meal shared with friends or family. He says, “Let’s step away from life’s battles to sit down together! I have a table ready!”
Interestingly, our idea of recreation usually involves leaving work behind. Jesus presents us with a different thought. “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.” (Matthew 11:28-29, NIV) “Join Me,” He says. “Be a part of my team (take my yoke). I will not beat you emotionally or treat you like an object.” And, the life we find in Him, His ways, will lead us to a soul-rest.
The letter to the Hebrews speaks of the ‘Sabbath rest’ available to the people of God. It’s not able a day off from work. It is an invitation to live with our souls settled by our trust and obedience to the covenant promises 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)
Are you troubled that you might not be ‘good enough for God?’ The Good News is that He invites us to enjoy the gift of reconciliation with our Father, not because we are ‘good enough,’ but because He has finished the work of salvation on our behalf. Through Christ Jesus we are made whole, saved completely, and at peace with God.
From that place near the heart of God, where the Spirit speaks to us about His loving acceptance, we enter the world to do the work of God. Working with God is so much more fulfilling than working for Him. If we are trying to prove to Him that we deserve His blessings our efforts become dutiful, exhausting, and often more about appearance than substance. But, if we are engaged in serving the Lord because of our love for Him and for others, even those things that could be drudgery, take on meaningfulness. The same tasks, yes. But, they are done with a different motive, and are kissed with His favor.
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)
This Monday morning, at the beginning of a new week, He will renew your heart. Will you allow Him to do that?
There is a kind of soul rest waiting, not the kind of rest we find in a hammock in the backyard on a Summer afternoon. It is the rest of serenity, fulfillment, and purpose that comes from the realization that we are beloved, cherished children of God.
Rock Of Ages
(Guy Penrod inspires in this hymn)
Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee
Let the water and the blood\
From thy wounded side which flowed
Be of sin the double cure
Save from wrath and make me pure
Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfill thy law’s demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save and thou alone
While I draw this fleeting breath
When mine eyes shall close in death
When I soar to worlds unknown
See thee on thy judgment throne
Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee
Augustus Montague Toplady | Thomas Hastings
© Words: Public Domain