One of my favourite lines in a hymn comes at the end of The Church’s One Foundation.
“The one great church victorious shall be the church at rest.”
Regrettably we don’t often think of the church as a place of rest and find it hard to imagine the coupling of “victory and rest.” We all too often associate victory with the constant work of our hands.
But the idea of rest is an important one in scripture and it means more than just having time for a seat in our comfy chair.
Rest is the fulfilment of God’s promises, the completion of His plan for His people. It is used in the first chapters of the bible to talk about the Promised Land, as in, “When you cross over the Jordan and live in the land the LORD your God is allotting to you, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies…” (Deut. 12:10). See also Joshua 1:13, “The LORD your God is providing you a place of rest, and will give you this land.”
Once the Israelites possessed the land there followed a lengthy period of physical rest, which they needed after many years of fighting and driving out the inhabitants of the land. It was for them also the realization that God had “made good” on his promise to give them the land. They rested in the assurance that God was faithful, had provided and would provide for them and for their children.
Rest is fundamentally a confidence that God is good and that His plans will prevail. On a more basic level rest is the assuring knowledge that God does indeed have a plan for your life and for mine; it is the faith that somehow in some small way, your life matters and that you are known and adored by God. Such knowledge yields the state of mind enshrined by the Eagles in their popular song, “I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling.”
Finding his rest is easier than you might think and is really as simple as learning to sit quietly with a trusted friend. You know the feeling that comes with spending time with a loved one; you can just sit together without having to say anything. Time in one another’s company creates a tender, almost visceral sense of connection, a meeting of souls. Words are become superfluous, even a distraction, like a chattering fool at a symphony.
Rest means confidently doing nothing, but doing it in the presence of Jesus. So, have a seat, a comfortable seat. Read a passage or two of scripture if you like, take a deep breath and just sit there with Christ. If it helps, and it often helps me, set up an empty chair in the room with you and imagine it is reserved for Him. Know his penetrating, adoring gaze, loving you like a husband.
Don’t try to do anything, you don’t have to, He’ll do it for you if only you let Him. Wait there as long as you have the presence of mind to do so. You’ll know when it’s time to get up and get busy. Creating a place of rest within you is His most important work; learning to live and work from that place is yours.