The request in my email box read: could you write an article on rest? My furrowed brow, tight shoulders and tired eyes should have been a clear indication that my response would be an emphatic –ahh No! But I have been here before with the Lord.
Born with an intercessor’s heart and a self-appointed “problem-solver” personality, I have wrestled with God’s rest most of my adult life. Vacillating between laying the world’s burdens at the foot of His cross only to pick them up again has been an ongoing growth area for me.
In full transparency, rest has been more of a place that I visit rather than a permanent residence. This begged the question: Can I love God with my whole heart and soul and still come in and out of rest?
It is not difficult to figure out what rest is not. God’s rest doesn’t look or sound like worry, it isn’t burdensome nor is it exhausting, you don’t grow weary of it, and it isn’t a place that you need to take a break from. It is constant in our everyday lives, regardless of our circumstances. It’s a place you may take for granted when you are there— and eventually you will recognize when you have left.
Absence of rest is sneaky and can present itself in a myriad of ways in your life. It can be a lack of laughter, pre-occupied thoughts, grumbling, tight shoulders, shallow breathing, furrowed brow, forced smiles, a quick temper, and a swelling weariness that isn’t cured with sleep.
Because our fallen world’s focus is on the sufficiency of our independent self, the easy temptation is to think obtaining God’s rest is a product of our doing. If we only studied the Word more, prayed more, or served more than in doing so we would draw closer to the Lord. While this is true in part, it only brings you back to unrest in the end. The answer is not that obvious, we do play a role in God’s rest, it’s just not the leading one.
One of my favorite scriptures on rest is Matthew 11: 28-29. This is an invitational verse on Christ’s part and a decisive, three-part action on our part. Jesus says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In this verse, God does not dismiss that on this side of heaven we will carry burdens to the point of exhaustion. He also doesn’t promise that by coming to Him they will disappear. It’s actually just the opposite. Instead, He uses a very specific imagery of the yoke placed on oxen, to explain to us that when we take Him into our heart, He will join us in this world to help balance and shoulder our loads. Why? Because the God of the Universe, the Great I Am has a gentle and humble heart. And through union with Him He will teach us how to bear this world and refresh us in the process.
In the midst of the swirling chaos around us, God’s rest comes when we bring our burdens to Him and exchange them for His peace. This is a daily choice on our part that happens in a moment regardless of the size of the burden or the condition of our heart, and thankfully in the space between unrest and a return of rest there is grace.
Rest equals surrender. Rest equals trust. Rest can be yours the moment you remember whose yoke you really bear and the truth that it is light.
This article was written by Rosey Brausen, producer of Afternoons with Bill Arnold.