Friday, November 6, 2009

Enter into The Rest

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-30)

One of the Ingredients of living in a world stained by sin, filled with sinful people, and exploited by Satan is that we will quite often come across stressful situations and circumstances. In fact, life can be so stressful that it can begin to harmfully influence and pressure us emotionally and spiritually, sometimes even severely. We can get stressed when we have too much to do and even when we don’t have anything to do. Stress comes not when we most expect it, but when we least expect it, and when we don’t even know where it is coming from. Such is the reality of being human. One day, soon, all the pain and sorrow and frustration will be gone, but in the meantime, stress will take its toll on us, and there is nothing we can do to avoid it entirely. Surely, we can avoid sinning and doing foolish things which can only increase our stress burden. But there are things outside of our control, things that we just can’t resolve. For example, we can’t force a person to receive Christ. We can’t make God heal a disability. We can’t force our leaders to seek God, use wisdom and honor in their decision-making. We can’t force employers to create work out of thin air when there is none. We are human, weak, not all-powerful, and not God. Therefore we will always have stress to deal with. However, for those of us who know Jesus Christ, we will always have a safe haven, a place of perfect rest, under the shadow of The Almighty.

The exact reverse of stress is rest. The rest, that we read about in the Bible, is a deep inner peace, contentment, and joy that goes beyond all circumstances and allows us to be re-energized on the inside. This rest is not a magical illusory state that temporarily lowers our blood pressure and allows us to escape the problems of this world. Rather, it is safety in the storm. It is having Jesus there when the waves crash and the wind howls. Rest is admitting that we are nothing but sheep who need a Shepherd (Psalms 23:1) for only in Christ from beginning to end can we have no need. Acknowledging our deficiency and trusting in His sufficiency is crucial and most important to being at rest. Rest will always escape any person who lives with a double-minded attitude. Rest will escape any who hides sin and evil intent in their hearts. Rest will never come to those who seek it in some place or person other than Jesus Christ. All other interest - money, early retirement, perfect health, a minute of media fame- is sinking sand. Only Jesus can provide what we are looking for, for only He is fully in charge of our lives. The only true safe haven is found in being in step with our Savior, following our closest Friend wherever He may lead.
Jesus never promised that He would make our lives stress free, for He said we will have trouble in this life. However, even as we go through the tribulations of this earthly life, He leads us into green pastures and beside quiet waters His pastures are green, lush, life-giving, and life-sustaining because He is our energy, our food, our sustenance, and our life. He leads us to still waters, waters that refresh and replenish, that cool and cleanse. He restores our souls. A accurate understanding of the restoration of the soul is vital to enduring stressful times. The restoration of the soul is not found by becoming better at getting what we want, becoming more talented in influencing people, or advancing in some selfish cause or agenda. The restoration of the soul is not a mystical encounter at a New Age class. God restores our souls by sanctifying all of its parts. He calms our minds by helping us to take sinful thoughts captive and to think upon what is good, right, and pure according to His Word. He refines the desires of our hearts by reminding us that, unless we seek His kingdom first, we will be all out of balance. He shapes and bends our wills so that we stop fighting and resisting the work of the Spirit in our hearts and finally humbly surrender and obey. So if we want rest, we must think right, want the proper things, and obey. We must also be taking in the Scriptures. When it says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.” If we want our souls restored, we must be in the Word and allowing the Spirit to conform us to its truth. Rest is a Biblical principle and a privilege. Rest gives us renewed perspective, fresh direction, and a fired up passion and energy. But a vacation, holiday, or celebration will not restore the soul unless we turn to the presence of God by surrendering to Him in complete obedience and humility. We must delight upon His Word. Let us enter His rest so He can restore our souls and give us strength for the stress tests yet to come in this life

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