Rest is a difficult concept because it does not produce something tangible and visible. We have a hard time recognizing its value. We tend to think that if we rest we are being lazy, and yet, our souls cry out for rest – for rejuvenation, for refreshing, for recharging.
What is rest?
Is it, like a popular tv show says an afternoon where we say, “Treat yo-self”? Is it getting a massage or a retreat to the mountains? Is it the luxury of sleeping in (sorry moms of young children – you’ll have to wait 10 years)? Is it giving up on all responsibilities and like the Bob Marley song just “Don’t worry be happy now”?
Jesus tells us
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30
Sometimes, we confuse the source of our weariness. We think that we can solve our tiredness by a better diet, exercise and sleep habits (all good things), when in fact, we are weary on the inside, in our souls.
Sometimes, we also are under the misconception that we can and should solve all problems ourselves. Read that verse again: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). I am not earning rest as the result of all my hard work and efforts. Christ freely, graciously gives it to me. Rest is a gift from a God, much like our other spiritual blessings.
In another passage, we read
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
~ Isaiah 30:15
Ouch! This passage hurts because it sounds so familiar. God calling out – repent, rest in me, trust in me, stop arguing with me.
But we “would have none of it.”
Of course, we are tired! We are trying to accomplish the job that God has already done for us. Yes, he wants our service, our commitment, our labor. But he wants us to seek Him first. To trust in Him, to lean on Him, to worship Him, to see Him as He truly is – our Savior, holy, mighty, and beautiful. Our salvation is not about how wonderful we are – it’s about how wonderful our God is!
Our rest is not a place or vacation (as wonderful as those may be). It involves no fancy tricks or money. Our rest is found in the presence of God. A God who is powerful yes, but also a God who sees when we are soul deep tired and aching. He longs to give us what we need. He alone grants the rest our souls crave. And He is calling us to cease striving, to rest in Him. Will you come?
And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” ~ Exodus 33:14