God’s Rest: Pause that Refreshes
Someone once said that modern life in the United States can be captured in three words: “hurry, worry and bury”. Do, do, do, work, work, work. To demonstrate our high value on the work ethic, we celebrate a long holiday week-end which we call “Labor Day” weekend.
Many of us are perpetually busy, but unfulfilled from all that “busyness”. Often we find ourselves frantically bustling about – almost driven – filling every minute of the day. We collapse into bed at night and wonder what we’ve accomplished that’s of any real value or importance. We are chronically tired, with little to show for it.
What we need is a national holiday called “Rest Day”, to let people know that it’s OK to relax once in a while. Not just OK, but crucial to health and well being.
We are so caught up in the work and busyness “spirits” of this age that we often carry it over into our spiritual lives. As if our walk with God counts on the number of hours we put in “doing spiritual things”.
The Scripture cautions us in Hebrews 4: “Therefore, 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.”
And, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest . . .”
It almost sounds contradictory to say “make every effort” to rest”. But that directive captures human nature. We have a hard time truly “resting”. Because “resting” really means “trusting”.
It’s like the elderly man on his 75th birthday. A pilot offered to take him for a plane ride over the little town in West Virginia where he spent all his life. Back on the ground, after circling over the town twenty minutes, the pilot asked “Were you scared, Uncle Dudley?: “No-o-o, ” was the hesitant answer. “But I never did put my full weight down.”
We smile at the remark, but there are many Christians who have not yet put their full weight down on the provision of God. They think that their own effort is keeping them from spiritually “falling from the air”.
The Scripture says that “it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.” It’s not our effort to hold ourselves up that saves us. It’s relying on what God has done for us. God tells us to enter His rest; the rest His Son provided by His death on the cross.
But some find resting hard to do. So God engineers a rest for us. My heavenly Father has had me in one of those schooling places for the past three years, constantly calling me back to a place of “rest” & “wait” when my mind and body want to get moving. When my spirit cries out for the answers to prayers “right now”.
Mrs. Charles Cowman expresses it this way: “God sends a time of forced leisure – sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts – and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent and our part missing in the music. . . Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the “rests.”
I find in my own life that I benefit greatly from the pauses that God engineers, when I use them to find a quiet spot and fellowship with Him There is nothing like those precious encounters where God’s Spirit touches mine and calms my restlessness, as He restores peace and trust and contentment to my soul. In those sweet, almost suffocating times when I can barely breathe in His presence, I find rejuvenation for my body, mind and spirit. His rest is truly a pause that refreshes.