Rest isn’t something we hear of often, but it’s important. Christian life is all about balance, as is illustrated wonderfully in the story of sisters Martha and Mary and how they approached Jesus. Busyness doesn’t equate to holiness, even if we’re busy doing seemingly holy things. We are not machines created solely for work. We are beings created for the purpose of having a relationship with our God and Father. The work we do stems from that connection, whether that be stacking chairs at church, raising a family, or whatever it is that our calling and gifting stir us to do. God doesn’t want us just to work. He also wants us to rest. How great is that?!
It’s important that we discover what God’s definition of rest is though. It doesn’t mean ignoring our responsibilities and watching TV. Even in rest we can be productive. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites us to come to him to find rest for our souls. That’s such a warm and generous invitation. His rest is more than just an afternoon nap or a cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace (although those are great too!). God rested after creating…creation, Jesus slept, and Psalm 127:2 says, “God grants sleep to those he loves.” These are all great encouragements. The kind of rest that we can embrace in Him is more than just rest of the mind and body, however. It is the rest of the soul. It’s the kind of peaceful comfort that we only find when we sit at His feet and enjoy all that He is, and all that He offers us, where the cares and distractions fall away, so all we are left with is, is us and Him – together. It’s the kind of rest that Philippians 4:6-7 describes; the kind of calm awareness that comes when we give Him our anxiety, and receive His peace, the peace that makes no sense according to our circumstances, but makes complete sense once you know who God is, and that He is in the midst of your circumstances, yet also sees beyond them.
Hebrews 4 speaks of two different kinds of rest – the rest on the Sabbath, and also the heavenly kind, in which we will truly be free from all of our striving and work on earth, with all of its internal and external opposition. It’s interesting that the New Testament describes those believers who have passed away as being asleep, for outside of Him, there is no true rest, and in eternity, we will forever live in that everlasting, peaceful rest.
Rest in Him, so we may be strengthened for our work. When He works with, through and for us, we will know rest, both now, and one day, in eternity.
“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” “
“And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them.” “