Rest. It’s something that I long for. In the midst of paying bills, worrying about the future, attempting to be the perfect wife and mom, and trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I get weary. Pictures of quiet mountain streams or a beautiful beach look inviting.
As wonderful as just getting away sounds, I know it won’t soothe the ache in my soul. I may be able to step away from my normal routine, but that won’t provide a long-term fix for the anxiety in my heart.
Over the last few years, God keeps bringing the word “rest” to my attention during my time with Him. In all honesty, it was a bit frustrating at first. How am I supposed to rest when my life seems out of control? If I could just get my circumstances to cooperate, then maybe I would find rest.
On one such occasion where I was frustrated with God for bringing up the concept of “rest” again, He began to speak to me in His gentle way. He brought me to Hebrews chapter 4. It wasn’t a passage I had really looked at in depth before, but as I began to read, I knew it was for me.
The passage talks about the Israelites and how they missed out on their opportunity to enter the rest of God and to see the fullness of His promises because of their unbelief. Verse 10 is what really hit me hard.
“For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own.” Hebrews 4:10 AMPC
True rest is a place of believing God
God’s version of rest is letting go of the weariness and pain that come from trying to do things in my strength. His version of rest isn’t stopping everything in my life (although that is healthy from time to time). His rest is about being able to be at peace in the midst of the chaos around me. It’s about my heart being in a state of trust that God will handle my circumstances.
God’s type of rest is choosing to believe that He is faithful, good, and trustworthy. It’s choosing to believe that He does love me and will fulfill His promises for my life. It’s choosing to believe that I am who He says I am and not the lies that seem so real in the middle of my circumstances. It is the choice to let go of control.
Entering the place of rest
I love that after the invitation to enter rest, God lays out how to get there. Hebrews 4:11 has an interesting note about rest that I wouldn’t have anticipated. It says:
“Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].”
Somehow, it seems counter-intuitive to me to have to work to enter rest. My picture of rest looks like pouring a glass of lemonade and heading out to a hammock. God’s picture of rest has words like “exert ourselves” and “strive diligently.”
Entering God’s kind of rest requires effort. But what does that effort look like? Is it the hustle of trying to get more done so we can get our circumstances shaped up? Not according to this passage. I love that the author of Hebrews lets us in on a few secrets of how our efforts should be directed in the next few verses.
Stay in the Word
“For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 AMPC
I’ve heard this passage quoted many times, but haven’t ever personally applied it to the verses before it talking about rest. Part of the effort that gets us to rest is time with God’s Word.
For me, this plays out in finding scriptures that relate to what God has spoken to me or what I’m struggling with and reading them repeatedly, thinking about them, and sometimes memorizing them. When I begin to feel the anxiety, weariness, and stress, I have a tool to fight with if I’ve been in God’s Word.
I love the next part of the passage. Verses 14-16 talk about how we have a High Priest (Jesus) who understands our weaknesses. It says to come to Him boldly to ask for grace because He understands what we’re walking through.
Staying in rest is not something I can do in my own strength. I fail regularly. But when I struggle, I’m not met with a demanding God who tells me all I’ve done wrong. I’m met with the loving arms of Jesus who knows what it is like to struggle. His desire is to wrap me in His arms of love and give me grace – the empowerment to do His will. I don’t have to do it by myself. What a relief!
Friend, I don’t know what kind of stress, anxiety, and weariness you are feeling, but I do know this – you’re not alone. I pray that you have courage today to enter the place of rest and to trust God fully right where you’re at.