The Promise of Rest Back to blog list
In this magazine you will find a number of articles on the subject of ‘rest.’ You can talk about ‘rest’ in a fairly straightforward way. God, for example, rested on the seventh day and asked mankind to copy what he had done and to ‘remember the sabbath and keep it holy’. Rest, therefore, is part of the great processes of life. If we don’t allow our bodies to be replenished by rest and sleep we will become very sick. However, the Bible also talks about ‘rest’ in a more complex way.
The writer to the Hebrews remarks that there is a promise of rest held out to every believer in Christ:
And so, this is still a live promise. It wasn’t cancelled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So, let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 8-11) MSG
The ‘rest’ described here comes about by pursuing by faith the promises of God in the Scriptures and by believing what he has said to us personally. It is a rest that is generated by trust and by drawing on wisdom, inspiration and strength that comes from another realm, from the sufficiencies that Christ provides (1 Corinthians 1:30).
In our Christian world people are so often ‘driven’ in their service for God. They strive in their own strength to ‘get the job done.’ If our works, however, are to be enduring and fruitful, we must learn to rest in the Lord. We need to depend upon him and trust him to infuse us with the energies that we will need to work in his harvest and in the care of his church. Never forget, spiritual work requires spiritual energy. This drawing from our Master ought to undergird our service for him. It is the ability to work from ‘a place of rest’ in Christian service that is critical. Speaking directly to this, Jesus said: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4).
Bible teacher Andrew Murray gives this advice:
Do not strive in your own strength; cast yourself at the feet of the Lord Jesus and wait upon him in the sure confidence that he is with you and works in you. Strive in prayer; let faith fill your heart, so will you be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
According to Vine’s Concise Dictionary, the Greek word for rest is ‘anapausis’ meaning ‘cessation, refreshment’. Christ’s rest is not a rest from work, but ‘in work’, not the rest of activity, but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections, of will, heart, imagination, and conscience, because each has found in God the ideal sphere of its satisfaction and development. Augustine, the great Church Father, stated: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord; and our heart is restless until it rests in thee”.
Biblical wisdom approaches the issue of rest in a way that achieves a person’s total health: body, soul, and spirit. It is important then that the rhythms of rest are functioning well in our lives. There are times when we have to take hold of our hectic lives and by faith just rest. Charles Spurgeon said: “Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less”.
Here are a few tips for resting that I have found helpful:
- When you are experiencing stress and anguish, slow down, have a quiet time with God. Get with the great Shepherd, Jesus. Let him minister to your soul. Reflect on these beautiful words of Scripture:
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3) KJV.
- Are you worried or really anxious about something? Consider these awesome scriptures:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7) KJV
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on him, for he cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7) AMP
- Are you constantly worrying about your church or your ministry? Ponder these scriptures:
“Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15) KJV.
May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together – spirit, soul, and body –and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) MSG.
Finally, we live in a western culture that depends very much on the function of human minds to sort stuff out. I, however, have long sought to keep a simple Bible promise throughout my life to bring me to a place of rest in many complex situations. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). I testify that we can depend on our God! We can always find a place of rest in him in all the situations that life and ministry present us with.