Believe it or not, God has not called us to live a life of struggle. Instead, He wants us to live the abundant life of grace through faith. Why? It’s because grace is God’s power working in us to accomplish whatever God has committed to us. A life of struggle, worry and stress is far from the life of grace. Grace is God working in and through us, while we rest in confident trust by faith.
A picture of the kind of life God doesn’t want us to live is found in Mark 4:35-41. Jesus had asked His disciples to let them go to the other side. But while they were crossing over in a boat, the wind and the waves became really terrible. The disciples began using all manner of things to get rid of the water from the boat. But Jesus was sleeping there on a pillow. Finally, they woke Him, accusing Him of not caring if they perished. Jesus rose up and rebuked the wind and they marveled. When we are not living a life of resting in the grace of Christ, we will struggle and sweat for nothing. Only a life of restful trust in God and in His unfailing love and Word will give us fulfillment. They were doing all they knew to do, leaving Jesus out of the equation, and would have been wiped out in the process. A life of rest is a life that depends not on the arm of flesh but on the Lord.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. – Pro 3:5-6
Let me say this, that rest is labor. I am saying that to rest is to labor and that the real labor God wants for us is rest in Him.
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’”although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. – Heb 4:1-3
You see, the passage above is making an allusion to the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness. The word was spoken to them, to go and spy their promised land. Of the twelve that went, only two, Joshua and Caleb, mixed what they heard with faith. Those that didn’t, all perished in the wilderness. They did not enter into divine rest and they also missed their land of promise because of their unbelief. When you fail to anchor your life on God’s promises, you set yourself up for unrest.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Heb 4:9-11
Hear me, the rest that God wants for us is not a rest from work Nope. It is a rest in work. It is working in partnership with God to do whatever He has called you to do. To expect to accomplish anything of consequence without depending on God is for you to labor in futility, by relying on mere worthless mortal man, including yourself. You must reach a resolution that if God doesn’t help you, then all help is vain.
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the Lord.” Jer 17:5
Let me pause here to pray for you. Let your confidence be in the arm of the Almighty. May He alone be the One that can rightly boast about your accomplishments. May it be said of you, you are the one that the Almighty is helping. May the Almighty help you early because vain is the help of man. May you say, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side” (Psa 124:1-3). May your trust in princes fade away (Psa 146:3), because his breath is in his nostrils (Isa 2:22).
You cannot really live a life of rest until you have fully learned to fully believe God. It’s in believing that you really rest, not in unbelief.
Let me drive this point home. God told Abram He would have a son. He didn’t believe. His wife, Sarah tried to help God by giving her servant to her husband, producing Ishmael in the process, and creating endless problems for generations of unborn in the process. Whenever we try to cut corners, and we are unwilling to go through the painful process that resting in God might demand, we create problems, not only for ourselves, but for posterity.
How and when did Abram enter into rest? He did when he truly and wholly believed God. When your faith kicks in, you enter into rest. When you’re still struggling to believe, you’re not in rest.
(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Rom 4:17-21
You see, Abraham entered into divine rest by believing God, even when it didn’t make sense and of course, God accomplished His purpose in that man’s life. But you must pay the price of laboring to rest by feeding your faith till it becomes unshakable. Until you have learned to fully trust God with every aspect of your life, divine rest will be a rarity.
Stress is not a new thing in life. When life stresses you, you can choose to be restless or to turn it over to the Lord, knowing that if you respond any differently, the outcome will be nothing short of a disaster, a lesson that Saul’s life exudes so well.
Saul was the new King of Israel and Samuel was the Priest. Now Saul was leading his army to battle against the Philistines – (1Sam 13) and Samuel had instructed him to wait for him for seven days. By this time, the people began to sense danger and were now hiding themselves in caves and every hole they could find. The people were troubling. As a result, Saul lost his faith. He could no longer rest. He took matters into his own hands.
Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. So Saul said, “Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.” And he offered the burnt offering. 1Sam 13:8-9
Every time you leave faith, you cease to rest and you do things that you will inevitably regret.
Then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 1Sam 13:12-14
There is no substitute for living a life of faith. You will always be presented with an alternative, which are all fake. You don’t need them. Instead of stressing, rest. Had Saul rested, had his faith remained resolute, his kingdom would have endured. When you allow yourself to respond in the natural to life’s pressures, you will be stifled.
Allow me to bring this word to your attention: “Is there anything too difficult for the Lord? (Jer 32:27, 17). Do you think God needs your help to accomplish His purpose in you? If you think He does, then honestly you really think way too much of yourself. All He needs of you is that you will trust and rest in Him, know if he does nothing, so let it be. That you will not worry, fret or be anxious in any way. Instead you will trustingly rejoice and be at peace. That’s how to live in life of rest.
Let me give you the illustration of a worrier. He’s a man that gets in his car, going nowhere. Instead, he gets into a big roundabout revving in circles, endangering everyone around, wasting gas and putting his own very life at risk.
Let me close by reinforcing this point again. God doesn’t need your help. He only wants you to put your unflinching faith in Him. We are the ones that need His help. Remember when David was bringing the ark of Covenant into Jerusalem, he put it on a cart, which he shouldn’t have. But when they got to Naboth’s threshing floor, Uzzah stretched his hand to steady the Ark because it was stumbling. God’s anger arose and He struck the young man for his error. God can handle His business. A help you offer out of carnality is worthless. Get in faith. Rest in God. Let Him help you.
Remember this, when you learn to put your faith in God’s unchanging grace and love, you can rest. When you rest in Him, He works. But when you don’t, He sleeps, which obviously is a huge disaster.
God bless you!