“Therefore, while the promise to enter His rest remains, let us fear that none of you should miss it.” Hebrews 4:1 (HCSB)
We live in a day where anxiety, and depression are rampant! Many have a regular appointment with their counselor, and a huge number of folks take pills to alleviate the pain, without ever dealing with the source. Finding rest for the soul is desperately needed, but is not found in counselors or pills! Too many of us have equated busyness with fruitfulness, or running hundred miles an hour with effectiveness, and tragically this is a lie perpetuated through our culture, even within the church.
Finding rest is not just about stopping all your activity and stepping out of the world, though at times that is a very good idea. We’re told in Hebrews to enter His rest (4:1). To enter something requires an effort. And in this case, an intentional effort. Jesus was never in a hurry, but He was always on time and always at rest! To enter and stay in a place of rest before God, there are at least three things you can do.
When the Lord was calling out to Samuel, he spoke out, “Speak, Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). Because he was listening, he was launched as one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27). To hear His voice, we must be listening! Elsewhere we see that the Father spoke from the cloud saying “This is My Son, listen to Him” (Luke 9:35)! Seven times Jesus says to the churches to listen (Revelation 2-3)! We are told to be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19). Quick to hear means having a listening ear! Jesus said that anyone who has ears should listen (Matthew 11:15), implying that you can have hears and not listen! Joshua called the Israelites to come near and listen to the words of the Lord (Joshua 3:9), implying proximity matters in clarity of hearing! The first step to finding rest is learning to listen!
Most of us don’t like to wait. Whether it is the line at the grocery store or the red light that seems to take forever, we prefer to keep on the move. Waiting is not a high value in our world today. Nevertheless, waiting is so important in our finding rest in God. Waiting involves an active, attentive position before the Lord. It is a place of hope, trusting in God for His timing and methods, and anticipating His outcome. Waiting in not necessarily a place of non-activity. There are many references to the importance of our waiting for God (Hosea 12:6, Psalm 25:5, 27:14, 37:7, 40:1, Lamentations 3:24-26). It is in this place of waiting that one’s strength is renewed (Isaiah 40:31). Samuel had told King Saul to wait. But he grew anxious in the waiting and disobeyed, resulting in the kingdom being taken from him (1 Samuel 13). When we don’t wait, we take matters into our own hands, and operate out of the flesh. And what is started in the flesh must be maintained in the flesh, which ultimately is exhausting! Waiting on and before the Lord is key to our entering into a life that reflects His rest!
God said for us to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). Here is a position of rest that one enters into as he listens, waits and watches what God will do. In this place of stillness, there is a realization of who God is. In stillness we cease striving and know God, not just about Him. To know implies intimate relationship! In our stillness we stop our other activities, acknowledging our absolute dependency on our faithful, able and awesome God! In our stillness we surrender and trust God to take care of the outcome. It is here we trust Him as Lord of all our life and find rest in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).
Jesus said that He only did what the Father was doing (John 5:19). Jesus knew what the Father was doing because He listened for the voice (John 12:49), He waited before and for His Father (He had to wait until it was His time), and He would be still and know His Father (He took the time to be alone with His Father). Jesus would intentionally get away to a solitary place just to talk, listen, wait and be still before His Father (Mark 1:35). Let’s make it our priority to listen, wait and be still before our Father, just like Jesus!
Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to the place of rest and to make whatever changes that are necessary to make it your lifestyle. Ask the Lord for a grace to listen better, to wait patiently and to be still longer. It will make a difference, not only in your life but in those around you. Ask Him to allow you to become a carrier of His peace and rest wherever you go, and whatever you do!