Resting in God
There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that hath entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labor therefore to enter into this rest. – Hebrews 4:9-11
I have always been fascinated with the idea of resting in God. When I normally think of rest, it requires lots of sleeping and lots of doing as little as possible. The thing is, when I do these things, I don’t necessarily feel rested, at least in the sense of being recharged and ready to take on the world. I believe there is something in these verses that the vast majority of Christians do not understand. I believe I am just beginning to scratch the surface of what they mean.
Monday, I will be 44 years old. As little as 10 years ago, I thought of the 40’s as old. Well, now that I am here, I have these strange feelings for it. On one hand, I don’t think I’m that old. On the other, I feel like if these 44 years have flown by like they have, my life really is a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4:14). I will be out of here before I know it. All I want is to be prepared for the day I stand before Him. There is a strange transition taking place in my life right now that I’m not sure if it is temporary or long lasting. “Let us labor to enter into rest” is a paradox that is puzzling me, and yet, I’m experiencing it at the same time.
These last few months have been labor intensive for me. I don’t just mean job related, I mean kingdom related. I have poured myself out like never before. It involved me using the knowledge of God and the Bible that I have developed over the years. I didn’t spend a lot of time acquiring new knowledge, which I missed greatly. It all came to a grand finale the last time I preached at Lifeline. I didn’t labor for the sermon at all. I just stepped up and poured myself out. At the end of that sermon, I literally collapsed to the floor and wept like I don’t think I’ve ever wept before. Never, not even one other time, has that ever happened to me. It was so strange and so wonderful. Two men of God came up, put their hands on me, prayed for me, and I was immediately restored. It was the coolest, craziest thing I have ever experienced.
Having said that, I am still so out of my Bible reading/studying routines right now. Somehow, I think I put too much trust in my routines. In fact, I know I do. I feel like when I’m not studying and praying that I’m just a goner that deserves something bad to happen to me. It’s like I wait for it. That is not the God presented in the Bible. There is a time for labor. Yes, God’s Word must be read. God’s Word must be understood. God’s Word must be applied. A prayer life must be developed. One must know what God feels like and sounds like. One must learn His ways. Not that we can learn these completely, but we can labor for these things and get closer and closer. Being saved is not the end of spiritual matters. Being saved is analogous to simply signing up and paying your dues at the gym. You’ve got to learn to use all that equipment if you want to benefit from it. Within three to six months, it is so obvious if you use it or not. In Christianity, people have been signed up at the gym for years, yet most are still spiritually weak.
As usual, I have no idea why I’m writing this. I am in such an unusual place right now. I’m doing as little spiritual “working out” as I’ve ever done. I do miss it like crazy and, after asking God to make me hunger and thirst for His Word and His righteousness, He is certainly responding. I just don’t want to ever forget these last few months where I studied very little, but reaped unbelievably great rewards by pouring myself out. I don’t even know if that makes any sense.
It’s like a story I heard a long time ago. God asked this new Christian to push a big rock every day with all of his strength. So, every morning the guy did. He got totally ripped doing this over the years. His muscles were spectacular. In time, Satan came along and discouraged the man, “Why keep doing this to yourself? The rock isn’t moving and you are just wasting your energy.” The guy listened and got weak. When the day of battle came, he wasn’t ready.
It seems like American churches are like that. We are really convinced that spiritual disciplines are useless. Yet, those disciplines make us spiritually ripped to go out and fight and be victorious. We have strength that He developed in us as well as His strength. We fight from victory, not for victory.
I remember telling a college friend about Jesus. He straight up told me that I didn’t get to tell him about Jesus. He basically called me spiritually weak. He was right. I hadn’t been pushing the rock at all. I wasn’t prepared for that battle. I always think about that when I don’t feel like pushing the rock. I got to fight these last few months using the spiritual muscles that I have developed. I went further in my own strength than I ever thought that I could. When I was spent, God stepped in and backed me up with His strength. There was obviously no comparison, but I was sure thankful that He let me play as big of a part as He did.
Lord, teach me how to labor so that I may enter into your rest.