I'm standing over a hot stove stirring some sort of meat sauce. It's already 6:30pm and bedtime for the toddler is in 30 minutes. She is severely unhappy that I am not dancing to "Let it Go" in a tutu with her and is suffering from a mild "hangry" episode, so I'm throwing goldfish to her as I bounce up and down and I try and sing something from Frozen. She is not appeased. I then step on the cat's tail who also is "hangry" because I may have forgotten to put some kind of food in her dish. So I toss some goldfish to her too. She is not appeased. And then in an effort to do seven things at once, I drop the wooden spoon on the floor and red-it'll stain your shirt forever if you look at it-sauce goes everywhere.
And I'm about to melt down.
But everything is right on schedule and there is very little that is surprising to me at this moment.
I need rest. A lot of rest. I need a vacation. I need to sleep in. I need to go to Starbies for 2 hours and sip a hot tea with whole milk and eat one or two of those delicate pastry things wearing a shirt with no stains or wrinkles and maybe even something with heels (wait, do I still own heels??). And maybe read my Bible. Or just stare out a window. Probably the second thing.
As I dream up my fantasy I start to think,
Is rest only possible when you get enough sleep?
Is rest something only found for the relaxed and un-busied?
Is there rest to be experienced each day, even the crazy ones that never.seem.to.end?
Is there a peace I am missing out on in the midst of utter weariness?
The Real Enemy of Rest
We all need rest. God prescribes it in Genesis 1 at the very beginning of creation! He created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. He didn't need rest but he set it as a pattern (and a gift) to us to rest physically from work.
We need a kind of inner daily rest too, often described as an inner peace in the midst of chaos, a stillness of the soul during the most stretching moments of the day, a freedom from anxiety even when it seems there is much to worry about.
What gets in the way of this daily rest? What sets itself up against peace, a quietness of heart, a worry free day?
Is it Being Too Busy?
No matter what season in life you are in, you will probably admit to not enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do list. You are busy. I am busy. Students, full time or part time workers, moms, wives, women in general - we are busy.
But business is not the enemy to rest.
Is it Having Too Many Life Struggles?
In every season of our lives there are inevitable struggles that can, at times, make the days long and difficult. They range from physical ailments to difficult co-workers, to strained family relationships to the chaos of raising young children. You can lay in your bed at night so exhausted yet you can't fall asleep.
But life's struggles are not the enemy to rest.
Business and struggles may seem like barriers so we push to move through seasons quickly, or escape our lives for moments of vacations or "me time" but I believe those are just temporary band-aids on bleeding heart issue.
Lets look at Jeremiah 6:16:
"Thus says the Lord, 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.' But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'"
Here the Lord is warning the people of Judah to choose Him over the things of this world which would only lead to their downfall and destruction:
Look for the ancient paths, where the good way is - the way of faithfulness revealed to Moses and the earlier prophets; the commands of God and the things he's promised to his people as they follow Him.
Walk in it - a life of faith-driven obedience in God; making decisions based on God being God and not ourselves. Choosing to worship Him through our words, work, roles, and responsibilities each day.
Find REST for your souls - a gift of choosing to walk in faithful obedience leading to peace that surpasses all understanding; a rest that erases anxiety; a rest for the current day knowing our God is God and a rest for the future knowing eternity is His and we are in Him.
We will not walk in it - a decision of the people of Judah to choose to worship themselves and their way of life rather than to submit to God; a strong rebellion against revealed truth; knowing the truth and rejecting it.
Could it be that you are the enemy of rest in your life?
Could it be that you are getting in the way of having a quiet heart at the end of a brutal day?
Could it be that you are forfeiting peace to embrace things you can't change, control, or let go of?
Three Ways We Reject Rest
Reason No. 1
1. We do not look for the ancient paths
According to Jeremiah 6:16 we must know the Words of God to know rest. The reason is the world is full of chaos. We must not be conformed it's pattern and thinking but be transformed through the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). That renewal comes from knowing the Word of God.
Colossians 3:16 says, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly."
Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the Kingdom of God."
Deuteronomy 8:3 says, "Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
As we become familiar with the character and nature of God our souls experience rest. We can rest in His Sovereignty, His Authority, His Victory over all things. That is incredibly helpful in the difficult days as I feel the waters of life seeping up around my neck.
Sometimes at the end of my day I look at my house and want to cry. It's a disaster and I've carried this burden around all day long. But when I look back at the truth of God in Deuteronomy 6 that commands parents to teach their children the commands of the Lord, and I've done that in place of a clean house that day, I experience a rest in my soul instead of letting disappointment and stress leave me defeated.
Reason No. 2
2. We do not walk in the ways of God
It's one thing to know God's Word, it's another thing to walk in it. Sometimes I think we play the "grace-card" a little too often just to get by with what we want to do instead of submitting our lives to God. We can think, "I know God's Word says this, buuuuut, God forgives sinners; or God would understand; or just this time."
If we want rest for our weary souls we must practice what we've learned from God's Word.
James 1:22-25 says,
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
We deceive ourselves when we know the Word of God and do not live it out - that is anxiety inducing! It's a duplicitous lifestyle that will surely disturb our souls, leading to confusion about cultural issues, inability to make decisions, trouble with discipling your children in the home, unhappiness, and insecurity.
I know the Word of God says we are to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19-20). Although I know this verse (and very well, I might add), I'm very good at not walking in it, barking at my husband when I'm irritated, overwhelmed, or hurt. My anger ignites a whole lot of drama within my marriage and causes a lot of unrest.
It's important to know what God says, and to do what God says. And on days you don't - repent to God and believe he forgives you - then move on. Believing that God continues to give grace when we approach him is rest-giving in itself.
3. We refuse God
This might be a summary of the past two, but I think it gives a unique glimpse into our hearts and our desperate need for a Savior.
The people of Judah heard the warning of God - to know his Words, and choose to walk in them, but they replied, "We will not walk in it."
Jaw dropping response.
Can you imagine standing before God and saying - No. I will not do what you say.
It's hard to imagine, but it's something we do daily. Me too. I am nothing short of innocent in this category.
We are a rebellious people with stubborn hearts. God warns us to turn to him to find rest for our souls, yet we tell him no, we have our own ideas, values, and plans. We forfeit the rest God promises us for things that rock us to our core.
The bad news is we all reject God in this way.
The good news is Jesus allows us to say Yes to God.
Titus 2:11-15 says
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Let that sink in! That verse gives an ultimate rest to our souls - that we are free from our sin and we are purified to live passionate lives for Jesus now.
Let us say yes to Jesus - yes to His soul-cleansing peace giving hope. That is where true rest is found for the every day.
Rest for Every Day
Filling our lives with God's Word and walking in the ways of his commands will not guarantee days of perfection or days of ease. It will however, give a soul-satisfying rest that helps you laugh at the days to come even when you go to bed knowing there is spaghetti sauce all over the kitchen that you will have to clean tomorrow. It will give you rest to fall asleep at night even when the world is in utter chaos. It will give you rest to know that this life is not the end - you have eternal hope.
You may still reach the end of your day tired, you may still battle business and seasons of hardship, but when you look intently into the Word of God, eat it like honey, live fully unto God through the grace of Jesus - you can have a deep rest found nowhere else.
Find rest for your soul in Jesus, my friend.