God is rest. He is the God of restfulness. There is absolute fullness of rest within Him. Anything God is, He invites us to experience. His desire therefore is for us to know Him as a place of rest, and to live our lives in a lifestyle of resting in Him.
Why is resting so hard then?
I know I am not the only one struggling to find real and significant rest. For a whole decade I was pregnant or nursing and living sleep deprived. I understand from experience how we as humans can still function and operate with very little sleep. But just getting by doesn’t constitute a life fulfilled, rather it signifies survival.
I personally love sleep and am a bit sad that eternity seems to exclude even napping. Apparently God lights everything up 24/7, so unless we sleep in the light, I’m guessing we don’t. For now though I enjoy and relish any bit of slumber offered.
I am the kind of person that functions best with 8 hours of sleep. Anything short of 8, over an extended period, will catch up to me leaving me delusional at best and at worst an emotional basket case. It’s true. There have been times I have been so tired, I didn’t even recognize the enemies voice in my head telling me all kinds of dumb things.
Finally, after wondering what in the world was wrong with me on one of these occasions, I asked God. I questioned Him as to why I was thinking some of the crazy things I was thinking. His response was so earth shattering and ground breaking…actually not really, it was pretty straight forward. He said, “Jennette, you’re tired. Go to bed.”
Ok, wow. I realized the only reason the enemy had room to speak and the only reason I was not clear headed enough to recognize that the thoughts were clearly not my own was simply because I was too tired to think straight. Lesson learned. Rest and sleep are important for me to function at my best.
I am not the only one.
Maybe you don’t need eight hours of sleep. Maybe you didn’t feel so tired on your honeymoon from several nights of three hours of sleep or less you think you may have cried a bit too often. It’s quite possible your new husband can’t function on two hours of sleep like mine, and wanted to experience everything the cruise ship had to offer with you by his side. Maybe you didn’t have to excuse yourself from the all you can eat amazing dinner the last night of the cruise because you were so tired you were now feeling nauseous.
Maybe not, but perhaps you have said these words to friends following a vacation, “I am so tired, I need a vacation from my vacation.”
My husband Travis and I have had to learn how to vacation with one another. He enjoys getting out and doing stuff. Our honeymoon was a crazy good time filled with tons of activities. However, we were so activity driven, we left very little room for relaxing.
I do not exaggerate when I say, by night 3 of our cruise, I hit a wall. Our honeymoon extended over two weeks. The cruise took place half way through. I was so worn out from the endless nights of dancing and karaoke. Our days were filled to the brim with beach fun and sight seeing. I literally felt like I was going to vomit from total exhaustion. Not the honeymoon picture of dreams, right?
I don’t think I have ever felt that tired in my entire life, even after birthing and raising five children. Now when we vacation, we know we have to involve rest and down days in between all the fun. Truthfully, the lazy days are fun for me. If we ever go on another tropical romantic getaway, I’ve told Travis I really want to just sit on the beach and watch the waves. That’s some good vacation bliss.
Real rest alludes us all.
Yet, even if we lay around in the sun all day, we can still feel tired and worn out. There must be more to real rest than merely what sleep and bumming around offer. How is it we can come back from vacation and feel worse than if we never went in the first place? Perhaps God’s idea of rest and our idea of rest are different.
David speaks of finding rest in God. He is able to experience rest for his soul within God. Our soul is comprised of three parts: the mind, will, and emotions. Here David allows his mind, his thoughts, and his thinking to rest in God. He rests his will, his want to, and his desires in God. He lays down his emotions in surrender and yields them to a place of rest in God, ceasing to strive and make things happen.
Truly my soul finds rest in God. ~Psalm 62:1
David also admits that it is God who desires this rest lifestyle for him to function in.
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, and refreshes my soul. ~ Psalm 23:1-3
Did you catch that? God makes David lie down in green pastures. Why would God force David to rest? Perhaps God knows we need more than sleep, a night off, or a vacation to really experience rest. Perhaps God is suggesting that rest isn’t a bodily position, but a mind set, a placement, or way to live life from. Is there a way to rest in God that will bring our souls refreshing like Davis speaks of?
Maybe the answer to our question is found in God Himself?
If God is rest, then how does He operate? If we are in Him when we rest, then the answer to our dilemma must first be in seeking how God rests. The first time rest is spoken of is way back in the beginning.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done. ~ Genesis 2:2-3 tlb
God put in the heavy lifting at the start, and then He was done. He worked and then rested from work. I say “heavy lifting,” but I think we all know nothing is hard for God. I don’t think even creation was difficult for the One who created creativity.
Whatever level of work God performed in creating the world and us, He rested from it right after. God ceased all work from that point on. In fact, the author of Hebrews 4:3 tells us that all of God’s works were completed at the foundation of the world because the Genesis account says God rested from ALL His work.
God set everything in motion. All He would do was done. Everything created was completed. He had checked off all His to-do’s on the to-do list before any of us even spoke a word or thought a thought. God started and finished everything before we really began.
Why then do we feel so tired and worn out all the time?
If God is at rest, why can we not then too be at rest? Where are we missing the mark and God’s heart for us to live in rest like He does? Why do we not find great comfort in our invitation into a deep relationship with the God who lives in a place of continual rest?
Hebrews 4 truly provides a wealth of wisdom to both why we miss God’s rest filled life and how we can start tapping into living in this manner. Let’s look at The Passion Translations version of the chapter for further understanding.
Those who first heard the good news of deliverance failed to enter into that realm of faith’s-rest because of their unbelieving hearts. Yet the fact remains that we still have the opportunity to enter into the faith-rest life and experience the fulfillment of the promise! For God still has ordained a day for us to enter into called, “Today.” ~ Hebrews 4:6-7 tpt
Who first heard the good news of deliverance and failed to enter? God’s first chosen people, the Israelites were provided the freedom by God to join their faith with God’s promise and activate His power in their lives. Unfortunately, they failed to step in with God to the life of rest He presented them with.
Rest lost in the garden.
Honestly, mankind from inception has been making the choice for unbelief over rest, time and time again. God created a beautiful peaceful garden for the first family to live out their days in, to walk with God in connection to Him. Yet, they chose to trust satan over God’s promise, and in so doing gave up the rest-filled life God designed in exchange for hardship and toil.
Where God provided a landscape easy to accomplish their calling of making the earth and mankind fruitful and growing, Adam and Eve chose to mistrust God. They opened us all to laboring hard ground both spiritually and physically in the earth, relationally, and with everything we put our hands to.
God tries again.
God is so amazing at believing in us even when we don’t. Again, God extends grace and reveals His master plan and kind heart to see His children live in rest. He promises through Abraham to multiply his seed and bring his children into a new kind of Eden, a land flowing with milk and honey…the promise land. Abraham believes and God makes a covenant with him. God seals His promise to bring His people to a place of rest.
The promise takes years and years, and generations and generations to finally come around to fruition. The Israelites, Abraham’s descendants were trapped in slavery for hundreds of years. God rescues them and reminds them of the promise He made 420 years prior to Abraham, with full intension of making good on the long standing promise.
Sadly, all but two Israelites trust God and are ready to leave their identity as slaves behind to fully embrace the faith-rest life God’s heart is bursting with excitement for them to step into. They are delayed for another 40 years in the desert while God works ever so patiently with them to teach them how to trust and know His character.
God tries yet another time.
God begins to work once more at renewing the minds and hearts of the stubborn people He so dearly loves. He looks to the next generation of Israelites growing up in the desert and the two men who believed at first, Joshua and Caleb to prepare for arrival to the promised land. He hopes once again for them to enter into the rest life He wanted for His kids all along.
God presents all the Israelites, young and old, believing and unbelieving with a list of rules to follow to help them live well. Some of the rules are difficult, they require trust and thinking of others above their own desires. We all know the struggle to obey these rules, intimately. But there is one rule that really shouldn’t have been fought with so much resistance. One rule seems like a no brainer to follow.
Commandment number 4 of 10 seems like the most obvious one of all the rules people should be able to follow without hesitation. However, even today we resist.
Remember to observe the Sabbath as a holy day. Six days a week are for your daily duties and your regular work, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest before the Lord your God. On that day you are to do no work of any kind, nor shall your son, daughter, slaves-whether men or women-or your cattle or your house guests. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, earth, and sea, and everything in them, and rested the seventh; so He blessed the Sabbath day and set it aside for rest. ~ Exodus 20:8-11 tlb
God’s heart is clear here. He wants to give us rest. He even goes so far as to command rest, not just for the boss, but everyone. He doesn’t want anyone to have to work or toil, everyone gets the day off in God’s plan. Isn’t that awesome? God’s heart is for us to live in at least one day of rest, glorious rest. Why in the world do people fight a mandate of rest?
Before the rules were set in stone.
A few Chapters before God passes out the first set of rules on stone tablets in Exodus, He talks with the Israelites about His revolutionary and strangely difficult to swallow idea of rest. In chapter 16 the Israelites are in the wilderness on their way to the promised land. Newly released from Egypt’s captivity they are just on the heels of experiencing all the fantastic miracles and power God displayed on their behalf to free them.
They are hungry. Some of them begin to talk of going back to slavery, to what they knew before because the unknown, even with a powerful God, seemed scary. God understands that the years of slavery played a toll on their relationship. His people don’t know Him. They understand He is strong and powerful, but they fail to know His kindness and goodness.
So God in an effort to help them understand more of His character assures them He has not led them into the desert to die, but He will feed them. He arranges to have miracles of food delivered from heaven every morning for them to eat. He instructs them to not keep any of the manna as left-overs for the next day, but that each day will have new bread for them to collect and eat.
The Israelites soon discover that God meant what He said, and manna appears like dew each morning. Those who disobey and try to save some for the next day awake to maggots and a horrid odor coming from the baskets that kept yesterday’s supply.
A stipulation for rest.
Once again God reiterates His kindness and total heart for His people to rest. Even though all week the manna is only good for each day, God instructs the people to do something different on Saturday. On the end of the week the people are told to gather double what they need and save half for Sunday. They are asked to keep a portion of manna overnight so they won’t have to go out on Sunday and collect manna.
The chore of collecting manna was pretty low maintenance to begin with. I doubt people even broke out in a sweat, but God wanted them to observe the Sabbath and rest. He is so committed to the idea, He even changes the rules and the miracle each Saturday and Sunday so the people don’t have to lift a finger on their day of rest.
You would think that would be easy to follow…well apparently not because as you probably guessed, some of them didn’t do what they were told. Some of the Israelites only collected enough on Saturday for that one day. Sunday morning they woke up and went out looking for manna and found zilch.
When God asked them to rest, they couldn’t even follow that one simple rule. Most of us have jobs and some of us have bosses, or at least worked under someone at some point. Can you ever imagine arguing with your employer about taking a break? Have you ever heard anyone complaining that their boss was forcing them to take their lunch time?
The idea of not wanting rest is ludicrous. Yet the evidence is clear, we all struggle with obeying God’s command to take things easy. God in His infinite kindness made a way where we could not. He is rest, and He is passionate to make us like Him in every way so we too are filled to overflowing with all the wonderful things He encompasses. He truly desires for us to be a people of rest.
God made way through Jesus for us to rest.
We couldn’t fulfill any of the law, not even the soft ball pitch number four…keep the Sabbath by relaxing. We were so doomed. The law required perfection in order to be like God and live with Him forever and always in the new heaven and new earth in eternity. We could not do it…we couldn’t even relax for one day, for crying out loud!
The tremendous good news is found in Jesus. Jesus made the way. He not only fulfilled the law perfectly in our place, but He upped the ante. He became Sabbath for us.
Now if this promise of “rest” was fulfilled when Joshua brought the people to the land, God wouldn’t have spoken later of another “rest” to come. So we conclude that there is still a full and complete “rest” waiting for believers to experience. As we enter into God’s faith-rest life we cease from our own works, just as God celebrates his finished works and rests in them. ~ Hebrews 4:8-10 tpt
How wonderful! God gifts us through Jesus with a rest that celebrates resting in His finished work. The rest is robust, full, and complete. He desires for us to experience this rest.
The full and complete rest mentioned in Hebrews 4, the Passion Translation footnotes explain is translated to Sabbath. In the Aramaic the word Sabbath takes on a nuance in translation of “He rose to be the Sabbath for the people of God.” Whoa! Did you catch that?
Jesus rose to not only fulfill the Sabbath, but to be the Sabbath for us. Jesus becomes the place of rest for us to live in. He is the place of rest for us. When we abide in Him, we put ourselves into perpetual 24/7 rest.
Jesus lived a life of rest.
Jesus cries out on the cross, “It is finished.” He meant it. God rested in the finished work, and Jesus made way for us to live and dwell there forever. Sin would no longer keep us in the ramifications of Adam and Eve’s disobedience and mistrust. Jesus provided a passage way into the new Eden with God, and this Eden we will never have to relocate from.
Jesus’ life before the cross gave us a clear picture of life in the Father’s continual Sabbath. Jesus showed us that God never really intended for Sabbath to be one day a week, but rather something we experience every day and every moment of our lives, here and now, and for eternity.
Jesus lived free of worry and fear. He never wondered where He would get food or money. If He needed anything, He trusted God to provide. When He was out of food, He thanked God for what He had and God supplied an abundance, more than they could consume, of fish and loaves of bread (Matthew 14 & 15).
When Jesus needed money to pay His taxes, God provided the amount in a fish’s mouth (Matthew 17). When He was in need of a donkey for transportation, God put it on a man’s heart to give a donkey (Matthew 21). Jesus was outstandingly confident in God’s character. He was unwavering in His trust that God is good and takes care of His loved ones.
Jesus scraps our ideas of rest and Sabbath.
In Luke 14 we find an interesting story of Jesus interacting with people on the Sabbath. Here Jesus totally annihilates the idea that rest has to do with not lifting a finger, as Sabbath was depicted in the old covenant.
One time when Jesus went for a Sabbath meal with one of the top leaders of the Pharisees, all the guests had their eyes on him, watching his every move. Right before him there was a man hugely swollen in his joints. So Jesus asked the religion scholars and Pharisees present, “Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath? Yes or no?” They were silent. So he took the man, healed him, and sent him on his way. Then he said, “Is there anyone here who, if a child or animal fell down a well, wouldn’t rush to pull him out immediately, not asking whether or not it was the Sabbath?” They were stumped. There was nothing they could say to that. ~ Luke 14:1-6 msg
Jesus shows us that Sabbath is not about work or not work. Sabbath is truly about our placement in God and living in His rest. Jesus didn’t strive to see the man healed. Healing was not work for Jesus. God healed the man through Jesus. God provided for that man’s healing at the foundations of the earth. Jesus merely tapped into what God already completed thousands of years before.
Through Jesus we are empowered and invited to live in the same kind of rest filled life. Living as sons and daughters of God, within the permission of releasing God’s kingdom here on earth, is meant to be easy. We do not have to work for favor, love, or power.
The things of God’s kingdom like faith, healing, purpose, and confidence in God’s ability to move through us all operate from rest. Jesus expressed this ideal in His life, and functioned in rest all through out His time of ministry on earth. His life in God’s rest was an example for us to live by.
Celebrate a life lived in rest.
Digging further into God’s heart and meaning of a faith-rest life as Hebrews 4 discusses, we come to find God celebrates this lifestyle. When we look at the Greek word used in verse 9, we see it is not the most common word used for Sabbath in the bible.
So we conclude that there is still a full and complete rest waiting for believers to experience.
The rest or Sabbath in the Greek is sabbatismos. This word form for Sabbath is only used this one time in the bible. The Greek word sabbatismos emphasizes the celebratory aspects of Sabbath. For the Jewish people Sabbath was a time to feast, connect with loved ones, and remember the things God had done.
The author of Hebrews is using the word sabbatismos for a reason. God wants us to see Him rejoicing and praising the good in resting in Him. He is at rest and enjoying life from that placement. He so wants us to find the joy in this way of life in Him as well.
How do we rest in God like Jesus?
- Tuning into God’s presence with us and in us helps us connect to God’s rest.
When we chose to let ourselves become aware of God’s ever present Spirit alive and active in us and around us, we access all the characteristics and traits of God available to us. Jesus lived out of rest because He never questioned God’s love and favor towards Him. He knew with utter assurance that God was connected with Him. He and God were one.
Astonishingly we have the same invitation of oneness with God through Jesus. Jesus prayed for this connection before He died on the cross for us (John 17:11). If God is rest and we are connected to Him as one, then we are connected and in His rest too. Everything of God is there for us to experience.
2. The more we live in trusting God, the more we will find His rest.
God is good. His goodness is never ending and always there for us…always. When we can put aside all the thoughts that war against those truths, we will put to death all that stirs up strife and striving in us. How can we take hold of rest when we hold fear and mistrust?
Doubting that God is good and all His other wonderful qualities he extends to us, only creates an unsettledness in our hearts. Jesus never doubted, and He lived in God’s peace because of it. I know doubting is a real struggle, but I also know we can not find rest in doubt. When we doubt, we fall short of God’s peace and rest.
Trust, celebrate, and rest.
I bless you today and everyday to live in stunning amounts of trust. Believe God is every bit of what He says He is. Trust He is good. Trust He is real rest. Step into Him. Walk into His rest.
I bless you with freedom to celebrate life in God’s true rest. May you find Him and connect to His Spirit around you and in you. Be released to live and walk through the earth in tune with God’s kingdom, operating from His heartbeat for yourself and the people around you.
May you live as Jesus did, unbound by worry and fear. Walk in His purpose by way of His rest. May His rest assure you of His presence with you and operating through you. I bless you to rest in His ability and His finished work.
Share your story.
Can you recall a time God called you to deeper places of rest in Him? What did that season look like for the two of you? Has rest been a difficulty to grab hold of? What ways do you feel God wooing you to trust Him and enter into His rest more? Share your experience and journey below. I love to hear what God is doing in you.