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Rest -- Really?

"So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God." (Hebrews 4:9, NAS95)

Can you believe that? God desires that we rest in Him, and if rest doesn’t fill your experience with God, then what's up? Maybe you can relate to my journey?

Jesus also invited us to rest (Matthew 11:29) and that naturally results from receiving how He reveals the Father’s goodness and love (Matthew 11:27). I have always loved this passage because I thought, "Wow, I no longer have to earn, please, or perform for God." While truth hides in those words, Jesus meant much deeper things. Things that touch my soul, the core of my being, and the motivations of my heart. I focused on my activities. Jesus focused on my heart understanding of God—the image of God I carry in my soul. He wants that renewed.

Over the years I’ve meditated deeply on this. I distinctly remember when this started for me. I had a contentious prayer battle with God over the reality of the meaning of this verse in my life. I had just flunked the easiest final of my college career, and because the course was in my major, I knew I’d have to repeat it. I argued (vehemently, I might add) with God that this verse had no reality in my life. I put it to Him: "Either You are God and this is true, or You are not God, and this isn’t true." I don’t remember the exact words, but that’s pretty close. I think He liked the honesty of that prayer. He answered by increasing my awareness of His interaction with me. Over time and through time, the answer leaked into my life. My soul life. Deep inside my heart.

What He caused reshaped—step by step, conversation by conversation, experience by experience—my awareness of the fullness of His love. I wish I could relate all the stories. I stand amazed. Rest became interaction with Him. Rest revolved around receiving what He has obviously given. Rest continues to mean seeing and receiving His love for me, as I am, even when I am vehemently upset with Him or with myself. His love calls me to dine with Him face-to-face, no matter my state of life. Proving, pleasing, or performing definitely don’t count. Love comes charging and He sees the glory of Himself that He desires to place in me (and you). I just need to receive Him as He truly is, relax, and relate. He loves. That’s His nature. Deep in my heart God continues to heal the image I carry of Him in my soul and He continues to renew it from judge to lover. As a result, my passion grows for people to know God by experience and to learn to swim in the river of His goodness and love. Rest.

Yes, rest—really.

Warmly in Christ, Doug Mitts

For Reflection:

"Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you." (Psalms 116:7, NAS95)

  1. How aware are you of matters of heart that distract you from God’s ever-present love, and therefore from rest in Him?

  2. What happened the last time you sat to discuss with God what your emotional states reveal about your trust in His love? How regular does that conversation need to be for you?

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