rest in Him
Last Saturday we had our monthly women's gathering for Christ Fellowship Coral Gables. I had the opportunity to teach on rest. This is not something I've excelled at lately. Ever since summer ended life has been incredibly busy and full. I barely have time to slow down on any given day. But as I was reading Scripture lately (I've been camping out in the Psalms because it has been such a comfort to me) I realized the importance of rest.
I wanted to share some of my message here because I think a lot of women could benefit from it. I tried to clean it up a little to make it more "blog-friendly." I pray this message on rest is a blessing to you...
It’s funny that we’re talking about rest today because that’s not something I’ve had a lot of lately. I feel like I’ve been stretched thin in recent months. I’m juggling a lot of different responsibilities and don’t have a lot of down time. I’ve had to pray to God to increase my capacity, but I’ve also had to learn to be satisfied with the work I can get done each day. When I pray I ask God to help me see what I need to get done today. Not what I can get done today, but what He needs me to get done. Do you see the difference? I don’t want to fill up my schedule with unnecessary things. I want to focus on what God has called me to each day.
It’s not always easy figuring that out. I have two young children and a husband who keep asking me when dinner is going to be ready. I have a job. I serve at church. My house has been undergoing renovations so I’m in a perpetual state of packing and unpacking. And then I have my own personal desires that I would like to fulfill and goals I would like to meet. Sometimes I want to get off this ride.
And let’s face it, the world is only encouraging this busy lifestyle. We’re inundated with messages about hustling and striving and doing. But over and over again I see the same message in the Bible. And it’s not a message about hustle. When I read the Scriptures I see that God calls us to rest.
In Psalm 116:7 in the ESV it says, “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” The NIV simplifies that a little bit for us, “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” And I actually really love the way the Message states it. “I said to myself, ‘Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings. Soul, you’ve been rescued from death; Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears; And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.’”
I have to confess, that I’m tired. I’m weary. And I'm sure many of you are as well.
I know what God’s Word says about resting, but I haven’t been obedient to that. I’ve jam-packed my days. And in the quiet moments when my kids have finally gone to sleep I’ve scrolled through social media on my phone or binged on Netflix shows…instead of resting in God. You know you do it too. How many of you say you’re going to bed and what you really mean is you’re going to lay in your bed in a dark room and scroll through Instagram for 20 minutes…?
It’s easy to be tricked into believing that we’re resting when we’re sitting on the couch with our feet on the table laughing at old episodes of the Office.
But that’s not real rest. That’s not the kind of rest God is talking about. It may be part of it, but it’s not the full story.
True rest is when we sit in God’s presence. True rest is when we acknowledge our limitations and trust in God’s unfailing strength. This is the heartbeat of the gospel.
There’s another word you will find a lot in the Bible. It’s the word ABIDE.
John 15 talks about God being the true vine and us being the branches. In verse 4 Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me”
I’ve been inspired by my pastor, Pastor Rick. He’s always talking about how the Bible was originally written in Greek and was translated into all the languages we have today, and so I’ve been studying passages of the Bible in their original language. I’m still nowhere near as knowledgable as he is, but I did get a trusty little app on my phone called Blue Letter Bible. And in this app there are commentaries and concordances and all kinds of neat stuff to really help you dig into the Word of God.
So I looked up this verse on the app. And it says the word 'abide' in Greek is menō. It’s a verb and it means “to remain, to continue to be present, to endure, to dwell.” We must continue to dwell in the presence of the Lord. We don’t dwell in our anxieties. We don’t dwell in our insecurities. We don’t dwell on our short-comings. We don’t dwell on our disappointments. We don’t dwell on our unhappy circumstances. We dwell in the presence of the Lord.
Matthew Henry’s commentary adds to our understanding of this verse. He writes, “Those that are come to Christ must abide in him: Abide in me, by faith, and I in you, by my Spirit; (He’s saying we abide in God by faith and He abides in us by His Spirit) abide in me and then fear not I will abide in you. For the communion between Christ and believers never fails on his side.” That means that God will always abide in us. He is always there. He never turns His back or forgets about us. He’s there, waiting for us to come dwell in His presence. And there in His presence is where we can truly rest in Him. Rest in the work He has already accomplished on our behalf. It’s in His presence where we are revived. When we remain close to Him, in His Word, in prayer, we are agreeing with God’s omnipotence.
God is omnipotent. It’s one of His attributes. It means He has limitless power. Jen Wilkin describes God’s omnipotence like this, “God’s power is always active and absolutely unflagging. Unlike us, he does not need to take a break to regain his strength. He does not require sleep or rest of any kind because ‘he does not faint or grow weary.’ He has never needed nor taken a Sunday afternoon nap, never nodded off in the midst of reading a sentence of a favorite book. The six days of creation did not drain one iota of his power, yet, in his compassion, he set a pattern of rest on the seventh day for the benefit of his power-limited creatures.”
When God rested on the seventh day, He didn’t do so because He was tired, He did it out of love for us. He knows we are not omnipotent. He knows we have weaknesses. He knows we get tired. And He doesn’t badger us to do more. He doesn’t tell us to buck up. He doesn’t tell us to quit whining and keep going. He lovingly tells us to rest. Not only that, He models rest for us. He shows us how to rest.
In thinking about rest, here are three things that I believe rest should be.
Rest should be observed. It’s not something to be ignored or overlooked. It’s not something we just kind of brush off to the side or get to when we get to it someday. It should be observed, respected, regarded, adhered to.
Rest should be habitual. It’s something we should do recurrently. It’s not like we just keep going and going until we simply can’t anymore and then we collapse. There’s a reason we have Sabbath every Sunday, or maybe if you work in ministry you take your Sabbath on a different day. The point is we should all be taking a day of rest every week. It’s good for you to have that day when you know you will be able to stop and recharge. It’s healthy. God commands it in the Old Testament because He knows it’s the healthiest way for us to live.
Rest should be holy. In our rest we should be seeking God and sitting in His presence. It doesn’t count if you binge all the Harry Potter movies in one day. That’s not rest. Let’s not ignore the spiritual implications of rest.
I read once that perhaps the reason we get rest wrong, is because we have come to see resting as a highly inefficient way of acquiring energy instead of a sacred call to restoration and wholeness. We must be willing to see rest as the precious gift that it is. It’s not about doing more, it’s about agreeing with God that this is the best way to live. He wants good things for us. He wants us to produce fruit. In fact, we are called to produce fruit. God is glorified when we bear fruit. That’s what Jesus is talking about in John 15. It’s in bearing fruit that we prove to be His disciples, like it says right there in verse 8.
But we can’t miss the crucial detail, that in order to bear much fruit, we must abide in Him. Verse 5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
There’s no point to our hustle, to our busyness, to our drive to get things done if we are not sticking close to God and resting in Him. We don’t work to rest, we work from rest. (thanks for that phrase, Jess Connolly)
We fill up on Him in preparation for the work
Try to take time out to rest before the busyness hits. Try to take some time away just you and the Lord. Spend intentional time with Him where you ask for His guidance and strength. And after dwelling in His presence you will feel more ready to jump into that busy season because you're working from a place of rest. You've stored up your energy. You've been with Jesus.
We must make rest a regular habit in our lives and not be fooled into thinking we are being lazy or falling behind. God knows our limitations and we must recognize them as well. How will you follow this commandment to rest?