Being and remaining at rest actually isn’t all that easy.
We jump every time the baby cries and turn each time our phone buzzes. We reach for our phones constantly to check our email, social media and chat updates, scroll through the headlines, or indulge in some idle surfing or game-playing.
Ironically, we are more distracted and fidgety than ever in this age of having everything at our fingertips.
This abiding sense of restlessness extends deeper too.
As responsible adults, we want to be the ones who are seen as part of the solution, the ones who can be counted upon to get things done.
We work to become pillars of influence in our circles. We step up when called upon and feel moved to volunteer assistance where we can, almost never saying ‘no’ to a request for help.
Even when we are more concerned with our own interests than contributing to the greater good, we don’t stop working. We plan, strategize, research and test to anticipate problems and eliminate threats.
Basically, it hurts us to rest. We think: Rest is for wimps, those who lack drive, aspiration, and purpose in life. Not us. We want, practically need, to do something, anything.
While there’s nothing wrong with being active and helping others, the danger is falling into the trap of constantly wondering if we’ve done enough, or if we could’ve done better.
Constant worry is deadlier than we think – it kills our relationships, our enjoyment of the life and goodness that God has prepared for us, and it has been proven that it even breaks down our bodies and our minds.
How do we combat this endless thirst and compunction for action? The answer lies in 2 simple keys:
#1. Know without a doubt that in rest is where God wants you to be.
We’ve talked about this a lot, but it bears repeating, simply because it is so foreign to our natural grain. God wants us to be at rest.
He wanted it so much that He put man in a finished work, for man to simply rest and enjoy, both in creation and in redemption.
In creation, God made and set everything in the heavens and on the earth first, before making man last on the 6th day, so that man came into a world that was already completed. Man came liberally supplied, placed in a world that had everything he could possibly need and want.
In God’s greater work of redemption through His Son, Jesus finished everything that needed to be done at the cross. He paid our sins in full, redeemed us from every curse under the law, made available His gift of perfect and permanent righteousness, and purchased every healing, provision, restoration and blessing we could ever need.
God demonstrates the same message of entering and resting in a finished work in types and pictures throughout the Bible, such as in His call to Israel to enter the promised land, a land that had everything already provided, and houses filled with all good things already prepared for them (Deuteronomy 6:10-11).
God placed such a high value on rest that He blessed and sanctified the 7th day, the day on which He rested from His work because it was all finished (Genesis 2:3).
In fact, the first mention of the Hebrew word for sanctify, qadash, which means to consecrate, set apart and make holy, is in this verse – and there is always a special significance attached to the first mention of any word or topic, in interpreting the Bible. God has made rest holy.
And God so eagerly wants man to be at rest that He urges, exhorts, and even warns man to diligently and zealously seek and strive to enter into and experience and enjoy His rest that He has provided (Hebrews 4:1-16), in the person of His Son Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us.
When the people asked Jesus, the Son of God, what was it they had to do to work the works of God (John 6:28-29), Jesus answered simply this: “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent.”
Another translation gives Jesus’s reply as: “This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].” To trust and rely on someone is to cease from our own efforts and simply rest in what that person has done for us.
Don’t be left in the dark and kept wondering any longer. Know for a fact and without question that simply being in His rest – resting in the person and finished work of Jesus – is God’s will, purpose, and design for you.
#2. Keep on hearing messages about Jesus’s finished work that put you at rest.
God doesn’t want us to receive the revelation of entering and experiencing in His rest just one time and then go away thinking that’s a nice message to hear once in a while, or that’s all we need to know, or try to keep at it on our own.
God wants us to remain in His rest, His way – by continually and repeatedly hearing messages about Jesus and His finished work for us, messages that set us at rest as we listen to them.
That is, in short, the key to abiding in His rest – for faith comes by [a repeated] hearing and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).
We need to keep hearing and hearing because we’ve already established that being in rest is not our default mode but is naturally so foreign to us.
The system of the world is works and earned results according to what we put in, a system that we learn and are so familiar and agree with. But God’s system and design of rest for us is directly contrary to that, which most of us baulk and turn our noses at.
Which is why the Bible tells us to not be conformed to the world, but to continuously be transformed by renewing our minds [in line with God’s plan and design and methods], so that we may prove and discern the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
If we want our minds renewed completely, then we must listen to messages that are entirely on the finished work of Christ and that bring us rest throughout the whole message.
This is not some kind of weird psychology or nutty brainwashing. This is the living word of God that is guaranteed and filled with the latent power of the Almighty God, written and spoken in perfect love.
There’s no point plugging into messages that do half-and-half – messages that encourage you about His love and grace and set you at rest for a bit, but then follow on in the latter half about what you should be doing in return or the unfathomable mysteries of God and His judgements under law. There is no power in that, because the Bible tells us a little leaven corrupts and spreads the entire dough (1 Corinthians 5:6), and we cannot put new wine into old wineskins (Matthew 9:17).
Trust God fully, that He knows what He is doing when He prescribed rest for us in the New Covenant – because He certainly does.
Yes, simply plug into messages fully on Jesus’s finished work and the rest that He has bought for us, and just keep on hearing. Let His words of grace and rest wash and renew your mind repeatedly, and you shall see His transformation in every area of your life.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.