For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them [Israelites in the desert]. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. (Hebrews 4:2-3a, NLT) This week I read these verses about the Israelites having the gospel, yet not believing. They had the knowledge of God and had even experienced miracles and manifestations of God’s glory over and over; but they didn’t believe and missed out on God’s rest. So, what about me? I have studied the Bible since I was young and have seen God’s faithfulness in my life and in the lives of those around me, but how is my lack of belief keeping me from the rest of God? At the beginning of this corona-virus crisis, when our schools in France had shut down, the borders had closed, and we had been ordered into confinement, I began to have trouble sleeping. It surprised me that my body was showing signs of stress even though I didn’t think I was stressing about the situation. However, one morning, after experiencing several sleepless nights, I decided to write out all my fears. As I filled a page with my fears, I felt my anxiety rise, further confirming how much these fears—even without being aware of them—had been affecting my body, mind, and spirit. I took my page of fears and wrote at the top that God is above all of it. He’s above all of these circumstances. As I was talking to God about these fears, I realized that I could know that He’s above all, but, to truly believe it is a choice—and sometimes it’s a minute by minute, day by day choice. Believing requires me to release the fear to God. You would think that I would want to release the fear, but I realized that to do that also requires me to release “my control.” I’m really not in control, but somehow holding onto the fears makes me think I’m in control—I’m thinking of all the details that God has missed in His planning—and, there it is. In choosing to hold onto my fear, I realized that I am believing in a god that is different from the One that revealed Himself to Abraham, Moses, Elijah, the disciples, Paul… If I want to see the Father whom Jesus came to reveal, I must surrender my false sense of control—my fears—and truly believe in who He says He is. He says that He created the universe. He says that He’s all-powerful—even over death. He says that He has chosen me, and that He has a good plan for me. He says He loves those I love. He says He IS love. Believing in God is a choice to surrender to God as He defines Himself and to rest in His character. He gently reminds me when I need to course-correct, when I’m beginning to believe that He is less than He says He is, or that His plan isn’t good for me. His pursuit of me is so unrelenting, but each time He calls me back to Himself, I must make that choice to believe in who He truly is. Warmly in Christ, Joy McAuley
By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. (Hebrews 11:3, NLT)
What is holding you back from accepting God’s rest?
What part of God’s character do you have trouble truly believing?
What do you need to let go of in order to believe that God is who He says He is?