Rest; December 18, 2022

Hebrews 4:9-11 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, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

Rest is a vital topic for just about everyone. Our bodies and minds require it, but we don’t seem to be very good at getting it properly. One thing that we often miss is that there’s no such thing as rest if it has­n’t been preceded by productive activity. We confuse rest with inaction, and that makes for all sorts of problems. Rest isn’t the same as leisure! We need a sense of accomplishment in order to rest properly. Obviously, God being omnipotent, didn’t “need” to rest after Creation, but the Bible records that He did so anyway. (Genesis 2:2) Even that is putting it into terms we can identify with, because for God, who is outside of time, “before” and “after” are relatively meaningless terms. That said, we’re back to what this passage is talking about. When we get frantic, thinking we have to do everything, we are abandoning faith in God who has already accomplished it all. I’ve always thought it was ironic that this passage talks about “making every effort” (traditionally, “labor”) to enter into God’s rest. That seems to be a direct violation of what we think of as rest! The thing is, we want to take credit for what we get done, when it is God who enables every good work we do or ever could do. It has become something of a cliché, but we need to “make every effort” to “let go and let God.” Emotionally speaking, that can sometimes take a lot of effort! God wants accomplishment and satisfaction for us, but we will achieve that only by recognizing that the Source of all power and accomplishment is our Creator God, who loved us so much that He gave His Son to take the penalty for our sin.

I honestly think I understand this better than a lot of people, but I still struggle with it. I’ve learned that inactivity does not bring peace or satisfaction, but I’ve also learned that being frantic totally wears me out. This time of year is always a trial for me, because there are so many demands on my time. I need to receive each thing as a gift from my Father, neither complaining nor trying to escape – and I’m tempted to do both! As I have said repeatedly to the congregation, this is an excellent opportunity to share the Gospel with people who are likely to be more receptive than at perhaps any other time of year. I must not duck any appointment the Lord sets up for me, but “always be prepared to give an explanation for the hope that is within me.” (1 Peter 3:15) Then I will indeed be able to rest, relax, and rejoice, just as the Lord has told me to do.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s certainly timely! Thank You for the experience last night of being able to rest only after I had done something that You had for me to do. Help me be faithful in everything, so that all of Your purposes may be accomplished on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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