Rest Again

If you are reading this from afar, you’re missing out. Bellingham in the Fall is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. The sky is blue, but not just blue, a piercing, clear blue. Clouds stand out in stark relief, but they don’t overwhelm. The reds and yellows of the fall leaves and the greens of the surrounding hills and the church steeple and even the roads and cars and people are all part of a wondrous landscape of color. And its accompanied by crisp, clean air with a hint of the coming winter. Incredible, this world that God has made. I’m in the midst. I’m blessed.

I experienced this, driving home two days ago. An epiphany, a moment of “wow, thank you Lord, you take such good care of me, look what I get to experience!” Maybe you’ve had such moments, too, where you just have a sense that God has you, in the very best sense of the word.

I say moments, because this experience was transitory. It was broken by my remembrance that I’d forgotten to finish preparing for a talk. Then that I hadn’t talked to my extended family as I’d planned. Then that I needed to mow the lawn. More to do now. The future to plan. I’m a little behind.

This is more than just “being busy,” that malady that seems to affect us all. It is also the worry that I’m behind, I’m not doing all I should. I feel that worry—there’s lots to do, and we don’t measure up to standards—is ubiquitous. Your tasks aren’t mine, but both you and I could always do better. I know this inside. I stress about it. I relieve the stress, sometimes, by looking around and getting a bit of comfort in comparison. “Yes, I’m not doing all I should, but I’m doing better than them!” This is something of a fool’s game. I know I’m not all I should be. At the extremes, this lack is experienced in guilt and shame, in despair even. In daily experience, I experience dissatisfaction, irritation, worry, and stress.

So often instead of the wonder of the beautiful day, or the enjoyment of my kid’s smile, or the joy of a free salvation, and especially about the truth that God has a plan for me and he will get it done, I am about the reality of a fallen me. I don’t want to be fallen. I want to be better. So I steal a moment of joy, and then head back to work.

I’m reminded of a friend’s recent statement from Hebrews 4. About rest. I see rest as a vacation, usually. You know, recharging the batteries, taking time off so that I can get back to work, at full force. When I’m tired or fatigued, rest is to restore me so I’m back to full capacity. Really, the goal of rest is as a restorative to further work.

And this flies in the face of the gospel. The good news is that Jesus actually did it all. I rest in his finished work. I trust in his once-for-all sacrifice.

When I lose that perspective, it doesn’t become untrue. I can spin my wheels, and all I’m doing is not seeing reality. And when that reality breaks through, whether on a beautiful Fall day or in the middle of a busy week, I see again that Jesus is my rest for all time.

He has me, forever.

Like he had Peter when he started sinking.

Like he had Zaccheus even when he was up in a tree, a sinner through and through.

Like he had Lazarus even when he was dead.

He has promised us heaven. Not on our work. On his promise. On his strength. For me.

I lean back in my seat, resting on the strength of it. Well, for a moment, before the world and my flesh intrude again.

May true rest, true peace, true wondrous trust in his promises, continue invade our lives and color our days even as we struggle. Until faith becomes sight, and we see our Jesus again.

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