May 17, 2007

What ‘lazy days’ of summer are we talking about?

I’ve mixed feelings about summer. While I love the weather, green and growing things, and not having to wear heavy clothes, summer also brings gardening, mosquitoes, and extra items on the to-do list. We have a lovely deck and I didn’t sit on it once last summer.

Yesterday’s increases to my list included making a pie with that tempting rhubarb, ordering soil to fill a large, now raised area of our yard, planning a barbeque for twenty people, and trying to figure out how to answer a request to edit another book.

The word for today is REST. It calls me. It eludes me. Funny that my devotional reading is about rest, but not the kind I’d like today. It is mostly about eternity.

In the Old Testament, God promised His people rest from their enemies in a land that He gave them. They struggled to enter it, but some “could not enter in because of unbelief.” They refused to obey God and paid a huge price. The New Testament warns them to not let that happen again because those who did enter that land were promised another rest, an eternal rest.

Both kinds of rest require faith and obedience. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: ‘So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

God wants us to trust Him for the here and now. True faith rests in God, is at peace, and is confident of salvation and eternal life. I’m at rest when I rely on His strength for everything, even if I am busy.

But there is another rest, a rest where all our struggles with sin are over, our to-do lists crumpled and cast aside, no weeds to pull, parties to plan, pies to bake. This rest was planned before the foundation of the world, and in the mind of God for whom time is always NOW, the plan is finished, and that forever rest is established.

Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ and follow Him have stepped into it, at least as much as is possible in time and space. I know that internal sense of being at rest in Him is just a shadow of what is to come.

Maybe today’s desire is not so much for physical rest, even though that would be nice. Maybe my heart just wants to be with Jesus. His invitation is, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

His invitation is about soul-rest, that rest that can be busy without being “worried and troubled about many things” as Martha was in Luke 10:38-42. It is a peace of heart and mind because Jesus is at the center of things. It is the same rest described in Hebrews 4, a here-and-now rest that can only happen to those who are trusting Him for both eternal life and this life.

After thinking about all this, I’m leaning back in my chair and letting His yoke settle around my shoulders. What I do today at His leading will be sufficient. It may not match my silly ideas about what needs to be done, but if I focus on His eternal rest promised for my future, then I won’t get in a dither and miss out on that right-now rest that is included in His promise.

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