Part 1: A Gift of Restoration, Resilience, and Prophetic Perspective
We were in the middle of our first vacation ‘Out West’, somewhere between Colorado Springs, CO, and Yellowstone Park, WY, when my wife asked in a surprisingly calm voice, “So, what does happen when the pop-up mechanism of a pop-up trailer doesn’t pop?” Just minutes before I had explained that there was a high degree of probability that the lifting system on our trailer had broken. All I can say is that it was a most fascinating time with five kids. I only wish we had brought the dog and a couple of cats to make it more magical! Anyway, it was wonderful but not necessarily restful. You’ve probably had at least one of those vacations in your lifetime; you return home in desperate need of rest.
I’d like to address the topic of ‘rest’ in light of Jesus’ gracious appeal in Matthew 11 and how we can more fluidly incorporate rest into our lives. Why is rest (aside from sleeping) an essential but often missing ingredient in our daily schedules? I would say that without it—REST—we are much less effective in how we go about the work of ministry.
Are you presently resting from a place of work, or working from a place of rest? Perhaps we are relying more on our own efforts, programs, and plans than spending much-needed and regular time in the quiet place of abiding and rest. Clearly, Jesus’ ministry was rooted in and flowed from a place of silence and solitude, thus being still in seeking His Father’s directive (cf. Matthew 4:1-11, 14:23, 16:36-46, 17:1-9; Mark 6:31; Luke 5:16,6:12; and many more scriptural references). Jesus’ daily ‘schedule’ reflected a pattern of rest/retreat … and then an advance with the work of ministry/the Kingdom. I know there have been many occasions when, thankfully, dear ones (i.e., my wife, etc.) have lovingly challenged me to stop striving with my own agenda and energy and just rest.
Jesus provides interesting insight on this topic of rest and the power it holds: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11:28-30) Although this is one of the most familiar texts in the New Testament and there are two references to rest in these verses alone, it seems that we are hesitant to embrace Jesus’ very tender and attractive words! We all know that statistics will clearly expose this reality, but who needs statistics when we experience it first-hand?
Yet, ironically, rest may be the very thing that Jesus desires for His listeners—and that through rest many blessings will come. It is a gift. But, like Paul, we find ourselves torn and often caught in our own humanity, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
Part of the blessings of rest, and what I desire to leave with you, is both invitation and challenge. Please know that I do this as a sometimes weary but hopeful brother and colleague in Christ. The invitation is to simply embrace Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 … and rest … knowing that His rest will bring you many unexpected graces, including the gift of restoration of your soul, resilience for the long-haul, and prophetic perspective in discerning the ‘spirit of the age’ (Ephesians 2:1-3). The challenge is to incorporate a regular pattern of rest—and Sabbath-taking—in our restless, relentless, and demanding worlds!
If we can integrate daily encounters with rest into our schedules, and thereby establish rest as a predictable pattern in our daily routine, then will we not hear God more easily and trust His leading more readily? Doesn’t this become an intentional act of resting our faith on His Grace, being released of so much work (which can become works/law; Romans 4:16 & 5:2)?
Out of this wellspring of Rest, Inc., may you experience an early springtime of the soul! When the care of your own life is established in rest, then the privileged work of ministry (i.e., disciple-making, missional outreach, etc.) will flourish. I hope to address this in Part II of Rest, Inc.
K. Craig Moorman