Hebrews 4:1 (NKJV) Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.
On Sunday morning, the Lord began to speak to my heart regarding rest. To cease from all labor and truly relax. Letting go of the schedule, routine and obligations of life and exist completely in His Peace of Presence. Of course, a million thoughts flooded my head of all the things that I “needed to do” prohibiting me from such a luxury of not doing. Rest can be quite elusive. I believe that in the life of a believer it is essential or at least according to God’s Word. It is the ultimate destination of our body, mind, and soul. It is the end goal of endurance. Yet, how many will become “weary in well-doing” dropping the cross in order to find respite in this life. Salvation is simple. Convincing our heart and mind that God loves us unconditionally and lavishes His Grace on us unsparingly is another thing entirely. To know the importance of and live in proper balance requires that rest is achieved – physically, mentally and spiritually. Have you ever heard there is no rest for the weary? Well it’s a lie set forth by the enemy to steal your love, peace and joy established by Jesus Christ. Even King Solomon came to the understanding and heartfelt knowledge that all the riches in the world would not satisfy unless proper rest a part of everyday living. So with this in mind, I sit in my quiet time for two days now basking in His Word. God is making sure that none of us fall short of His Rest.
2 Corinthians 6:1 (NKJV) We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
Establishing rest in our life as believers has significant meaning. While we are His Workers, it is first our position as His Children. The relationship between us and God is established through a Spirit of Adoption rendered by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:15) Our behavior indicate the position occupied in our relationship with God. Our vantage point is revealed by our actions. There are basically three positions – slave, worker and child. All three have certain responsibilities but enjoy different rewards. The slave is provided for. Always working without the freedom to enjoy that which is produced beyond the graciousness of the master. The worker gain based on performance getting their just reward. They have freedom to enjoy it but often choose to dive back in to continually secure more. Pride drives the worker. Fear will not allow them to rest lest someone else might take what belongs to them or overtake their position. The child is secure. The child works within the relationship not for a reward for the inheritance is set. The commitment is love and dedication of confidence in the security of their position. There is no fear in love. There is freedom to rest in the refuge of unconditional love not based on works. I love my children. I will do good things for them even then they don’t work for it simply because they are my babies. They are subject to my discipline but only within the confines of love. There is a difference in our positions in the Lord. We are all called to be His Children. We must move through the ranks and live in righteousness. Christ secured our place in the family of God. Resting is how we maintain it.
Galatians 6:8-9 (NKJV) For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Answering the Call of God and living on purpose doesn’t forsake rest. It doesn’t mean working ourselves to weariness. Jesus is our Strength, yet His Power works in our weakness. This is a wake-up call to all those who give it all for Christ and feel empty. Galatians 5:4 is a warning not to “become estranged from Christ” by being “justified by the Law” which is to be “fallen from grace.” What does this mean? Faith without works is dead. Works without faith is death. There is a balance which means times of resting and not doing even for the most dedicated worker in Christ. Fear that keeps us from prioritizing properly will drain us of all natural strength and never allow faith to kick in with God’s Powerful Grace. If you think God can’t do it without you – you are sadly mistaken. He wants to do it through you which means surrendering our strength to His Power.
To sow in the flesh doesn’t always mean sin or selfishness. It may imply a transition from Godly response to a fearful reaction when our faith is elusive and hope dwindling. The enemy wants you to think you play a role in your salvation. God does it all. Jesus paid it all. His Spirit will complete it in you. You must give yourself. Helpless. Weakness. Surrender. Submission. Our pride hate all of those nasty words. Our work is in vain when it is somehow an effort to win favor or position with God. We are His Children. He has no favorites. Like the father of the two sons – one faithful and the other prodigal – he loved them both equally. The one who stayed and honored his father expected more from him. He couldn’t understand how the one who squandered his inheritance could be welcomed home with a lavish party and full restoration. Friend, you can work yourself to death for Jesus and His Cause but if you are expecting more from Him – it just won’t happen. He has already given you and me His All.
Now that we have established rest and its importance, let’s talk about what it is. First and foremost, it is a biblical institution set forth by God from the beginning. Genesis 2:2-3 says that when God’s Creative Work ended that rested. God rested. He called the day blessed because “in it He rested from ALL His Work which God had created and done.” Our rest is blessed. To eliminate it is to miss a specific blessing and promise of God for our life. To follow His Example, our life must be balanced to include rest. Here are some definitions of rest with a bit of divine inspiration:
Rest is refreshing quiet or repose from sleep. How are you sleeping? God keeps in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on Him because they trust him. (Isaiah 26:3) I have a picture of our son undergoing chemotherapy for the third time. After undergoing two full rounds of treatment, the cancer kept coming back. The infusion before it – he had a bad reaction and became unable to breathe. My heart beating rapidly in my chest as I sat by his side praying and watching the monitors stealing a glance at his face, I found the Peace of God plastered all over it. He was resting by faith in the Hand of God. As if in that moment, the Lord whispered to me – you don’t have to worry either. Psalm 4:7-8 says, “You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” God will give us His Peace in exchange for our worries so we can sleep like babies in the night or even in the darkness find rest.
Rest is refreshing ease or inactivity after labor. Ecclesiastes 2:24 tells us, “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.” Every good gift in our life is from the Father. Everything. You may think you worked for it but it is a Gift from the Hand of God to you. We didn’t earn it and certainly don’t deserve the blessings afforded us in God’s Love. Yet His Kindness cannot help but give to His Beloved. You can rest assured working harder is not the answer but working smarter is. Balance work with rest projects the faith and confidence that God is our Provider and Source.
Rest is relief or freedom from anything that wearies, troubles or disturbs. In Matthew 28, Jesus invites us to partner with Him. He says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Bible tells us that who the Son sets free is free indeed. Yoking or partnership with Jesus allows Him to shoulder our cares, burdens and worries. It is a trusting endeavor of following His Lead and leaning on Him. He must be our strength. Grace again empowers our weakness. To rest from fear and doubt requires giving faith a chance and holding on to confident hope rather than always being in control.
Rest is a period of inactivity, repose, solitude or tranquility. It means to “be still and know that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10) Stillness is generally not our response to life. Busyness is our choice filler of time. We must learn to stop. Say, “No.” Let the Holy Spirit guide us in our commitments. All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. Guilt and shame are the enemy’s tools of mass destruction to God’s People when we say, “No to work and yes to rest!” This is until we learn that rest is a gift of God given to us and we must incorporate it to live a successful Christian life.
Rest is mental or spiritual tranquility. To live a tranquil life is to be free from commotion, peaceful, quiet and calm. The enemy is a chaos coordinator. He will do all that he possible can to cause a commotion and unsettle God’s People. He is really, really good at it. We must be better than that at holding tight to the promise and hope given to us by the Lord. We have been given the Mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16) Use it – “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-6) We must have made up minds to live in the tranquility of God called perfect peace.
Finally, rest is a place that provides shelter or refuge. God has promised that “My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places…” (Isaiah 32:18) Is this where you are living today? God is our refuge. He will be our strength. He will not force you to rest. Life will do it just the same or break you altogether. The faithfulness of God gives us a place called rest. The freedom of Christ gives us the opportunity to live in it. We must decide our dwelling place and destination each day. God has already provided all we need and will do more than we can think, ask or even imagine. We must only choose to rest in Him. We must “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.” You are free to choose the life you live. Free will allows us to work ourselves to death and not enjoy the benefits and blessings of God. It does nothing to secure our place in God’s Family. It can impact our future though. To work for God and never let Him finish His Work in us may lead to a frightful revelation. How horrific the words “depart from me – I never knew you.” Relationships flourish in rest. Time designated to stop working and live a little. Faith in God is revealed when we stop working for Him and let Him work in us and through us. Apart from Jesus I can do nothing, but with Him I must rest because it is His Example. Lord, teach us to rest in you!
Hebrews 4:10 (NKJV) For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.