Rest

by Lester Young

It’s a beautiful thing. But as the world continues to speed up on a daily basis in an all-out attempt to get our lives to do the same, real rest for most people has become a commodity in increasingly short supply. It is possible, though, to abide in a state of tranquil rest at all times, twenty-four hours a day, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing – or what the world around you is doing, for that matter. In Jesus Christ, we’re supposed to live that way; as a matter of fact, we’re commanded to live that way (Jeremiah 6:16; Matthew 11:28-29; Hebrews 4:11).

“Commanded to rest?” Yep, commanded to rest. Now, that does not mean we’ve been commanded not to work (Proverbs 6:9-11, 22:29, 24:30-34; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Quite the contrary, those Scriptures just referenced go out of their way to identify with remarkable clarity just what should be resting and what shouldn’t be. Indeed, it goes without saying that the physical body requires a certain amount of strenuous activity to stay in peak working order. But Jesus was not really addressing any bodily conditions when He said, “Come to me, you who are weary and [heavily] burdened, and I’ll give you rest. …You’ll find rest for your soul” (Matthew 11:28, 29).

Soul rest. Inner rest. Rest for your mind, your will and your emotions. It makes all the difference. If your mind, will and emotions are restful and at peace then you’re restful and at peace as a whole – and it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. You could be at the worst job on God’s green earth; or in prison (Acts 12:6) or watching the news or making your way through rush-hour traffic to get home – regardless of where you are and what’s going on, you’re just basking in the gentle warmth of undisturbed tranquility.

On the other hand, you could have the best job the world’s ever seen and arrive there daily by helicopter commute from your estate; or you could be enjoying an on-the house nine-course birthday meal at the fanciest restaurant in town or watching Bugs Bunny or simply trying to get some sleep at night – if your mind’s going a mile a minute pinging from one side of your cranium to the other and your emotions are totally out of control, there’s absolutely no rest to be had, regardless.

Jesus promised us this type of inner rest. He promised us peace – but not just any old peace: He promised us the peace that He Himself enjoyed (John 14:27). You think the Lord walked around on-edge, unsure, worried, hyper and ready to explode on the next person who got on His ‘last nerve’ because it was so visibly pulsing in the vein running down the middle of His forehead?? Of course not! Jesus was the Picture – the Embodiment – of Peace. That doesn’t mean He never got irritated or showed any emotion at all – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each clearly show that He did. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. After all, God has emotions and we’re made in His image, right? (Genesis 1:27, 6:6; Psalm 2:4, 95:10, 149:4) But Jesus never allowed Himself to be led or ruled by them. He always kept Himself squarely in God’s love, favor and protection; and so He always had peace.

And therein lies the key to rest and peace (and pretty much everything else in the Kingdom of God… but I digress). How did Jesus keep Himself in the Father’s love and protection? John 15:10 tells us plainly: “If you obey My commands, you’ll remain in My love, just as I’ve obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.” Jesus said and did only what His Father told Him to; He didn’t go around doing His own thing or making up stuff to do to keep Himself busy (John 5:19, 30; 8:28-29). He accepted completely His Father’s Agenda as His own; which, consequently, made the Father completely responsible for Jesus’ well-being (Mathew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 9:7-10; 2 Timothy 2:6).

Matthew 11:28-29 puts it differently but actually lays out the very same concept: “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened down, and I’ll give you rest. Take My yoke [the yoke that I Myself wear: the duties, chores and responsibilities which the Father has given Me to do] upon yourself and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart – do this, and you’ll find rest for your soul. What do I want you to learn from Me? My gentleness, humbleness and meekness of heart. I thoroughly resist the devil and do not do anything he says, but I immediately and completely submit Myself to My Father (Matthew 20:26-28, 23:11-12; John 13:4, 13-15; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:5-9). Whatever My Father tells Me to say, I say. Whatever He tells Me to do, I do… period. No questions, no discussion, no delay. Why should there be? I know He’s always right and I implicitly trust in His wisdom, goodness and love for Me.” (paraphrased).

Our Lord always obeyed what His heavenly Father instructed Him to do. By living and walking this way, do you realize that Jesus really didn’t have to figure out anything for Himself? He simply walked out God’s Plan for Him by doing what He was told each step of the way. That’s the yoke – the duty and responsibility – God gave Him: “Just inquire of Me, and do whatever it is I tell you to do” (Jeremiah 6:16). And it’s the same yoke He’s inviting us take for ourselves. Jesus walked in complete humility and submission to His Father’s will, and by doing so He kept Himself in His Father’s love, favor and protection. If we’ll walk in that same humility toward God and His Word, we’ll enjoy the very same benefit – and on the very same level (John 15:10; 17:23, 26).

Jesus always had inner rest and peace, because He was fully aware that keeping Himself in the ‘secret place’ of obedience also kept Him in the secret place of God’s love and protection (Psalm 27:5, 31:20, 91:1; John 15:10). By learning this about our Lord and following His example, we’ll be able to have that same rest He had (and Has) – the rest and peace He’s promised to all those who’ll put Him first in their lives.

When you realize that the God of the entire universe has your back – and your front, too – what is there to actually get upset over? (Isaiah 52:12, 58:8) You can go through your whole day without a care and then finish it off with sweetest sleep you’ve ever known (1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 4:8, 127:2; Proverbs 3:24). That’s living in the Father’s Sabbath rest, and it’s what He’s had planned for us all along! (Hebrews 4:9)

 

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2 Comments to “Rest”

  1. Beautiful. We need to take care too, as a group – as the church. I feel at times we have forgotten how to listen. I know that sounds cliché – and it is but real. For example, we had a family gathering after church and as our children our finishing up high school we were at a frenzied conversation as to what test to take, what schools do what and when they might declare a major. At the end I felt exhausted. But as a group we should have gathered hands like we did over our meal, and prayed for our children. What must they have thought, how much fear did we instill in them? Yes, to all of your comments above but we need to focus corporately as well as individually on the Word of God. The kids need to see us go to God, not feel the pressure of a future they cannot see. We need to be examples of inner rest and peace as a family and as the church.

    • Yes, you’re absolutely right, Sandra. Our kids are watching us (and listening), regardless of whether they act like it in front of us or not. Core values are still learned at home – for better or for worse – and godly parenting according to Biblical principles will never go out of style (Pr 22:6). Thanks very much, as always, for your insights, Sandra..they’re on point!

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