Hebrews 4:1-2 (NLT) God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.
Life is a busy place. Most days 24 hours just does not seem like enough time to clear our plate of all the responsibilities heaped on top of it. Life is like a buffet. Each day, we wake up to a new place of mercy and opportunity to discover faith and the promises of God. Yet somehow even in our best attempt – it is easy to become covered up by all the unnecessary and worthless things that the enemy labels as important which truly are insignificant when it comes to God’s Kingdom. As we walk down the line of appointments, opportunities, and the like, we begin to pick and choose among the many offerings along the way. Have you ever wondered why the meat is at the end of most buffets? It is because the salad, vegetables and other sides are not as costly as the main course. It is with this in mind that the enemy will toss every diversion, distraction and detour in our way to keep us from the Presence of God each day. He wants to keep us on the run. What are we running from? We are called to stand. God’s promise of entering his rest still stands. Did you know that the Latin root of rest is “restare” and “stare” means “to stand.”
We would like to think of rest as sleep. We all need sleep but sleep is not the kind of rest that the Bible is referring to. When we sleep our body and mind do not shut down but rather important processing occurs. Our mind takes bits and pieces of information from tentative, short-term memory filing it away to stronger long-term memory. Sleep helps us retain information more efficiently because of this process. While we are sleeping, our body is restore and rejuvenated. Muscles grow, tissue is repaired, and our hormones are synthesized. The type of rest that is referred to in the Word of God is a state of relief or freedom. It is spiritual calm. It means to be at ease, have tranquility and abide in peace. Rest remains constant even in the midst of chaos. God prepared a place of rest. God has promised us rest. He has invited us to live in at rest. Why don’t we?
As we look at our overloaded life and all the cares, concerns and associated worry and stress – we become overwhelmed and overloaded. I used to be one of these people. My mother used to tell my sister and I all the time that we took on too much. It was a constant elevation of tasks and devastating realization one cannot do it all. My life was completely overloaded…again when our son became ill. I hit a wall. I absolutely could not do everything anymore, it was impossible. His health, his life became my number one concern. I could “do” nothing for him. Every detail of my life even my own sanity and wellbeing had to be thrust by faith and trust into the Lord’s Willing and Waiting Hands. Little did I know, that He had been watching and waiting for me to this for a very long time. It would be the first step in my entire life of entering His Rest.
Hebrews 4:3-5 (NLT) For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said, “In my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’” even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.” But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
Genesis 2:2 says, “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” Sometimes we gloss over important details in scripture, like this one. God had finished His Work of Creation. It was complete. Every detail of life carefully scripted in time for fulfillment including everything about your life and mine. In that moment, not right before you were born or during your journey in life, but at that exact moment. It is impossible to completely understand the everlasting God who is our Creator. Our existence was not the result of reproduction but a carefully constructed masterpiece. We have a plan that includes a future and hope. It is filled with purpose. There is meaning to our life that this world cannot comprehend. It is by faith that we step from this life into His Purpose. Sin is rebellion and rejection of rest. When we decide to enter His Rest, it is signified by faith that gives us hope it will come. It is motivated by our belief that there is such a place and we must find it. It comes at the sacrifice of self. It is humbling to discover just how out of control we are because we think we have it all under control.
Hebrews 4:6-7 (NLT) So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
Rest is not found in our not doing, but rather our undoing. What if we are going about it all the wrong way? We try to get everything done so we can rest, but there never seems enough time to do all that we have assumed responsibility for. Will there ever be enough hours in a day? I hear people tell me (especially women) if I don’t do it nobody will? Martha, do you know that for a fact? Could it be another “apple” handed to you by the enemy to keep you from rest? It was a lie caused sin to enter the world and humanity was barred from Eden. Truth overcomes the lie. Who has time to read and study God’s Word? I need that thirty extra minutes of sleep to get everything “I” need to do done. Faith allows truth to work in our life. I have faith but if I don’t to do this who will. The Lord will work it out. Another lie of the enemy is that God needs you and I to effect His Will on earth. We want God to need us because then we can somehow earn grace. God is Sovereign. He doesn’t need us. He desires us. There is absolutely a difference. The Children of Israel faithfully observed the rules and regulations of religion. When it came to faith in God and His Word (spoken directly to them), they did not have faith and did not enter rest. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, we live in constant danger of continually falling in the pitfalls of pride, doubt, fear, worry and anxiety because our tasks will always go beyond our ability.
Matthew 11:27-29 (NLT) “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Picture a packhorse or mule for a moment. After our son went into remission, I tried to go back to a “normal” life. The life that I had before he got sick. For three years, I lived in the freedom and relief of rest because all that I could do was trust God, live by faith, and hold on to hope. Way more than the 21 days it takes to change a bad habit, I believe the Lord was using that time to retrain me. When life became “normal” again, I kept trying to repack my life with all the burdens of work, life and family that I once bore so “effectively”. I wanted to feel back in control of all the details of my life. After months and months of trying, I had the moment on the mountain like Elijah when God said, “What are you doing here?”
“My father has entrusted everything to me.” When I read this today, I almost cried at the thought. God trusts Jesus with everything…why don’t I? You can say you do, but faith is revealed in our actions. If life is running you crazy, you do not trust Jesus with everything. The invitation to “come to me” is an invitation to enter rest. It is to relinquish control of your entire life to Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4 tells us specifically that rest can only be found by faith and belief that allows us to trust the Lord in all things. We become yoked to Jesus Christ which means we have to follow Him in all things. The moment we decide to go our own way, do our own thing, trust our instincts, or rely on our emotions, the connection is lost. The Word of God reminds us that apart from Christ we can do nothing. This means that all those “things” you are doing “for the Glory of God” are meaningless because He is only glorified by our faith and trust that lives openly believing and doing His Will, His Way. Those who do this will find rest. They will stand by faith through storms. They will do the Will of God without it wreaking havoc on them physically and emotionally.
We have to believe by faith that in all things, Jesus can be trusted. When a soul finds rest, it lives in peace. Things like stress, worry, and anxiety will become foreign, so much so that when they arise our spirit will reject them as invaders called fear and doubt because that is what they are. Martha’s become Mary’s once yoked to Jesus Christ. We serve the Lord with gladness and happiness rather than the feeling that we must do everything all the time. If you do it all, then the ones called to do it cannot take their rightful place in the Body of Christ. You cannot see the workers God is sending because you have spiritual blinders. Faith calls them forth which means that you will not see them until you believe enough to make a place for them. God is calling you to a place of rest. You must have faith that Jesus can be trusted in all things. You must believe that His Will and His Plan are perfectly complete without you adding anything to it. You must trust the Lord in all things to enter His Rest. Maybe that’s why we live this life we live, so that in our undoing we can find the place called rest.
Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT) Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.