Why We Can’t Rest

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January 24, 2013 by Dwight Bernier

“I am not okay with who I am when I rest, so instead of resting, I continually work to make a better me.”

This statement is true of most of us. We don’t know how to rest. We want to be productive. And some of us declare our times of rest publicly so that people know how busy we really are. It’s all part of our scheme to look and feel important. We are not okay with who we are, so we continually strive.

What I find in Scripture, most of us probably already know. In God’s creation of everything, He worked for six days and rested on the seventh. He called His creation “good” and even “very good”. He didn’t go back to keep tweaking things on His day off. He wasn’t checking emails to make sure everything was working properly. He didn’t check to see what His Facebook friends were commenting or “liking”. He wasn’t obsessed with checking what His Twitter followers re-tweeted or mentioned Him in. He didn’t pin something so that the world would see that He was resting. That would be work as He would still be striving to be known. But He rested. He enjoyed who He was and what He had accomplished, and He rested in that.

When we rest, we have to stop doing the things we normally do to progress in our job, our finances, our success, our notoriety, our influence, our ministry, etc. And rest reveals what we are satisfied in. Are we okay with who we are or do we sense that we need to keep pushing to make something more of ourselves? Our rest reveals our deep insecurities. We find out that we depend so much upon our working and striving to give us our identity. The way we rest reveals what we truly believe about God. I’m not talking about knowledge, catechism, or doctrinal statements – I’m talking about belief. Belief is acting according to the knowledge you have. The difference between knowledge and belief can be illustrated with fast food and high buildings. Knowing that fast food is not good for me is not strong enough to keep me from occasionally partaking in lunch at McDonalds. But believing in gravity keeps me from occasionally stepping off a skyscraper in downtown Montreal.

I hear people say often, “I know I need to rest, but…”. That isn’t belief. It’s good that we know this, but if we don’t act on that knowledge, then it isn’t belief. We live in unbelief! (And I’m writing this because I want to learn to rest more.)

Jesus tells us that if we go to Him that He will give us rest. What kind of rest is He talking about? Well, how did Jesus rest? He rested in God’s control over things. He rested enough to pass out in a boat during a storm. He rested enough to not give in to the demands that people made of Him, but rather turned away from crowds to go to the other villages. He rested enough to not make a name for Himself, but rather to glorify His Father. He rested enough to get away from people and be with His Dad. He rested enough to perfectly fulfill the command to keep the Sabbath holy. In fact, He rested all the time in who He was, so that He never had to work to make a better Jesus.

If we don’t take periods of rest to contemplate who we are and who God is, then we will continually fight and strive to make something of ourselves. We will want to keep pushing. But resting reminds us that God has done all the pushing, all the lifting, and He will open whatever doors need to be opened. We can rest. We can enjoy Him. We can cast our cares on Him, and He will sustain us. We can take His yoke, which is light. We can take naps to the glory of Jesus. We can lay around in our pajamas and play with our kids, not worrying that something isn’t getting done. We don’t need to be obsessed with our social media status. In fact, most people are just using others to increase their social media status.

The only way we can rest is to trust that God’s opinion is the only one that truly matters. And if you are in Christ, He has called you His child, and wants you to live in the reality that all the work has been accomplished through Jesus, and our work is to partner with Him as He unfolds His plan.

God doesn’t need you to work for Him. He will do it. He wants and allows us to work with Him. And His work includes rest.

Stop listening to what the world says about who you are and what you need to do to promote yourself, and listen to who you are in Christ. And as you rest, be reminded that God is working in your rest to make you perfect. Rest is sacred.

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