Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:1
Years ago, when I was a bit more able (and willing) to get up and set out on a great adventure, I remember the weekend I hiked over a 13,000 foot mountain in the Colorado Rockies. This Florida boy was pretty skilled at running barefoot through sand, but trekking through rocky terrain, over logs and standing on top of the world (so it felt when I reached the top!) was considerably outside my skill set. It took me and the others over 10 hours to make it up, over and down the other side.
There are many dynamics at play when taking a hike of this kind. In the Colorado Rockies, weather can change every 15 minutes and even though it may be mid summer, it doesn’t mean that snow couldn’t be in the forecast in an unexpected minute. The first 3-4 hours through the Aspen forests, creek beds and elk trails were pretty high octane — relatively easy. But as the terrain turned to more rock, steeper steps and less shelter around hours 5 and 6, my body was begging for rest. To discard the need to take a break would allow for potentially unsettling consequences. So, the whole team found their own spots and rested in the glory of God’s great creation to restore ourselves.
The rest of God is a place we choose to enter, but it’s not something that is placed upon us — it’s present within us. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit and grows as a result of our abiding in Christ. Jesus said in John 15:4, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” This is the result of abiding in Him!
But peace is exercised through faith in knowing — through believing that Christ is King and the power of Christ lives in me through obedience. Peace, while present, comes through choice. I must choose to think on things that promote peace rather than on things that open the door for mental torment. Psalm 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret–it leads only to evil.”
The rest of God comes easy in simple times when there’s nothing to upset us. But for those who follow Christ, the rest of God is that special and great gift during times of trouble and crisis. It is met in the midst of abiding in worship of Him.
Lord Jesus, it feels a bit odd realizing how much latitude you’ve given me to choose your rest. My worry, my fret, my anxiety are all a choice and fanned by the breath of the author of lies to deceive me into trusting more in me rather than you! You have “prepared a table before me” to join you in worship and praise — to dine — to abide in. As I face times of difficulty, moments in opposition to your peace in me, remind me of the gift you have given me to rest in you!
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34