It never ceases to amaze me how I can turn almost anything into a burden. A new adventure, a new call, however exciting, can feel heavy when I take it into my own hands.
I’m not alone.
“Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise.” (Psalm 106:24)
Why, when God calls me out of Egypt to the promised land of rest, do I complain about the trip, looking back to predictable slavery rather than forward to offered freedom? Why, when invited to lay my head on Jesus’ breast and listen to his heartbeat, do I persist in making do lists?
In my work, my most common complaint has been the pressure to “do,” to work faster and longer and accomplish more. Buried beneath the complaint lies a longing for space to listen to my Abba’s heartbeat and live in tune with it. But too often I have lived out of a sense of responsibility rather than response-ability. Too often I live according to perceived expectations rather than choosing to live at a pace that makes room for that which is most important to me. Why? Why do I do this? I fear that my life won’t matter, that I won’t make a difference. Ironically, in living out of that fear, I fail to respond to the call placed deep within to become who I am created to be, and thus miss out on the only way I can really make a unique and beautiful difference!
Why does God in his mercy call us to rest?
He made us. He does not forget that we are weak and fragile, and constantly needing refreshment in every level of our beings to live well.
He commands rest, too, as a reminder, a sign.
“. . .the Sabbath. . . will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever. . .” (Ex31:16-17)
A sign of what?
“Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” (Ex 31:13)
“Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.” (Ezek 20:20)
Rest proclaims God’s being and doing as ultimate. God does not ask us to carry the burdens of the world – or even of making ourselves perfect. God carries the world’s burdens. He carries us.
And it gets better. My favorite reason to rest is that it brings God glory. I have often treated rest like a mere necessity to gain strength to get on with doing the things through which God can really glorify Himself. But God glorifies Himself not just through the work that He does in and through us, but through the rest that He provides for us:
“Like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.” (Isa 63:14)
Entering into God’s gift of rest glorifies God by showcasing God’s tender and extravagant care for His people. Isn’t that what the gospel is really all about? At its most basic, the good news is that God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves. He comes up with a way to make us holy. And he not only gives us the bare basics of freedom from hell, but so many incredible blessings both for now and for all of eternity. As John Piper notes, if you find a clear fresh spring of water, the best way to bring glory to that spring is not by getting a bucket and running around trying to bring more water to the spring but by drinking deeply from the spring and as you find yourself satisfied, saying, “Ahhhhhh! That was good!”
Abba, may my entering into your rest today bring you glory!
Today I’m writing in community with others. If you wish to read what others have written about rest, click on the button above.