Of all the mistakes I’ve made in ministry, I believe one of the most damaging is that of not being purposeful about rest. Rest is far more than a lack of activity, just as peace is far more than a lack of apparent conflict.
Hebrews chapter 4 associates rest with a tender heart which is obedient to the Word of God. That tender, obedient heart is responsive to the voice of God in faith:
Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:6-13, ESV
Lack of purposeful rest drives me certain directions I dare not go–if I am wise. Lack of purposeful rest points me down the path of disobedience, cauterizing my heart making it scarred, hardened, and senseless. Lack of purposeful rest all to often is driven by a dysfunctional narcissism, a desire to be at the center of things, of somehow having the satisfaction of having accomplished something according to my work. Just as Eve was deceived when the serpent contradicted to clear words of God regarding eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so too many of us are deceived by the notion that we will be “successful” in the Kingdom if we just work a little harder, put in more hours, get involved in everything, never let anything go by the wayside, never let it be said that we weren’t there.
I must strive to rest a godly rest–walking by faith, hearing and responding to his voice, remaining tender and obedient, resting from my work so that His work can be made complete in me. I must follow the example of Jesus.
We frequently read of Jesus that he “went to a lonely place to pray” or “he took his disciples aside to rest.” He was purposeful about getting away, having uninterrupted seasons of prayer, of communing with His Father. He chose to rest when he could have been using that time to heal the sick, teach the ignorant, or proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven.
Part of our rest, friends, is that quiet worship where we voluntarily open ourselves to God and allow His word to penetrate, rearrange, and heal. We must be in His word and we must be in a receptive spiritual posture to find rest. All else is a frenetic chasing after the wind, trying to prove something to ourselves or others. All else hardens our hearts, tempting us to place our faith in ourselves and our work rather than in our heavenly Father.
Notice the role the Word of God has in providing genuine, life-transforming rest? I believe that part of the call has given Angela and me to return to Papua New Guinea is to be a catalyst for the heart transformation of many Somau Garia speaking people. Without the Word in their heart language, the possibility of that dwindles. Bible translation aids transformation.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face shine upon you and give you peace.