Guiltless Rest

Just before the alarm goes off and the busyness of the morning begins, you awake. Instead of the obnoxious sound of the alarm clock, however, you are greeted by the soft sound of a gentle rain. And for these next few moments you lie in bed in complete bliss, knowing that for once, staying awake is just as restful as falling asleep.

As you start to think about the grass that needs to be cut, the car that needs to be washed or the extra few pounds that need to be jogged off, you push these thoughts out of your mind just as easily as they entered and close your eyes. Why? Because it’s raining.

This is one of the greatest feelings in the world, isn’t it? It’s mornings like these that you can sleep and rest easy all in the name of rain. Whatever you had to do will have to wait because it’s raining. And the best part about it is … you have an excuse.

Our culture today is performance-driven. We are awarded, praised, paid, punished and judged based on what we do, rather than who we are. The society asks, “What can you do for me?” This pressure to perform and to do, rather than to be, pushes us to base our self-worth on our work and our jobs.

We seem to find ourselves feeling guilty when we do get to experience rest, and we begin to search for more activity. This type of thinking usually results in being burnt out with life and leaves us feeling physically and spiritually drained, and ultimately desiccated. We become restlessly content with meeting demands and expectations until we have forgotten who we are and what we are here for.

We were created with one purpose in mind: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, strength, mind and soul.

Many times, we waste away our lives working and trying to get ahead, and we forget that we are living beings, in need of rest. This concept of staying busy is captured not only in our physical lives, but transcends to our spiritual lives as well. Nothing is purely spiritual or purely physical; we are living spirits inside fleshly bodies, and we must recognize the correlation between the two, instead of trying to build barriers and live double lives.

It is when we neglect ourselves that our walk with Christ suffers. Our performance-driven society leads us to believe that the amount of time we spend reading the Bible, the size of our offering or even the number of times we pray affects how close we are to Christ. The result is a life deep in good works, and shallow in faith.

Sometimes we need to stop searching for the “rain” in our lives, and rest in the presence of God. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. We should stop looking for excuses to rest our weary spirits and simply lay ourselves down before Him.

Living a life in bondage to work and activity is, at its worst, denying the freedom we have in Christ. I think that as Christ followers, we are some of the worst at trying to fill our lives with restless activity, primarily because we know that our end is near, and we know that we will be judged based on our thoughts, words and deeds.

We seem to try to work for things that are already given to us. We neglect the gift of grace, and in doing so, we neglect part of the character of God. It is this idea of laboring toward righteousness that captured the heart of Job and led him to boast in his blameless ways.

Elihu eventually rebukes him and poses the question, “If you are righteous, what do you give to Him, or what does He receive from your hand?”

Even in our righteousness, we have nothing to offer to a holy God. God also rebukes Job, saying, “… then I Myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.”

The extent of Job’s attitude was not an annoying complaint or whine, but a denial of the very grace of God. He was trying to gain the approval of God, and even trying to justify himself through external matters. God’s grace transcends human understanding and brings us the freedom that some have spent their entire lives working for, vainly striving for the unattainable righteousness of God.

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Isaiah mentions something that so beautifully illustrates our restless striving and futile attempts to capture the grace of God, that it brings freedom even to the most callused of hearts—hearts still clenching to the preconceived notions of debt and payment.

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:1,2).

Our debt has been paid in full, and our burden has been removed. Just as Christian, in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, finds relief from his burden at the foot of the cross, we too find freedom there from what holds us down, throwing our tiresome problems on the One who bought them.

It’s hard to fathom that someone loves us enough to buy from us, with the greatest gold, the very thing that ties us down, but that’s what is so unbelievable about grace. Our grace is not something to be underestimated or taken advantage of. Peter says, “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.” This grace should instead bring us to our knees in humility and brokenness—the first step to finding rest in God. Our arid souls are desperately seeking the spiritual rain that we need to give us rest in the presence of God. Our hearts are parched and desiccated, leaving us withered and the soil of our life cracked by the heat of a society seeking pleasure and performance.

Let the waters of grace flow over your heart and soul, bringing life, rest and vitality to their most extreme and unreachable portions.

You don’t need an excuse. You don’t have to wait until a “rainy day” of the soul to rest without guilt. Your debt has been paid; now rest.

“Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NASB).

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