Do me a favor? Would you rank these words by how you value them before you read on?
How’s it look? Where do “rest’ or “stillness” rank?
There’s a reason why we value hard work and action. We want to achieve something. We do things and act as motivated by one thing or another (ourselves, others, money, grace, recognition). The Word says that our Creator “placed eternity in the hearts of men”. We work at things and stay active to achieve because we were made for eternity. We were made to not see the end of things. I value hard work and perseverance as much as the next girl (maybe a little too much).
But “rest” and “stillness” just sound so passive, so insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Rest: (verb) to be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.
Still: (verb) to quiet or hush, to calm, appease, or subside.
They might sound passive, but the dictionary told me they’re both verbs. They’re actions.
By and large, Americans don’t value rest and relaxation. Nope, we’ve made a virtue out of unceasing labor; we even brag about how busy we are, as if the hectic pace of our lives is proof of our significance. We feel guilty when we’re not working, and we’re suspicious of anyone who comes off the hamster wheel for too long. This value is evident in little things, like vacations. In Europe, the standard is 5-6 weeks off per year. Here in the U.S., we’re looking at nearly a third of that at 2 weeks. The number of public holidays in the U.S. is 7, in Europe it’s 11.
I understand that any “vacation time” or even a job are luxuries. However, this serves as one glaring example of the what our culture thinks about rest. It’s simply not a priority.
So this “hard rest” that I’m learning is exactly that…hard.
See, this rest is not a synonym for “lazy” nor is it passive or easy.
The Word says we “labor to come into his rest”.
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,
for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works
as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,
so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
:: Hebrews 4:9-11 ::
A friend and I were talking through some of what it means to “labor in order to come into His rest”. We were talking about how these verses speak of someone coming to a place of rest AFTER having worked. There is work found in phrases like “I surrender all” or “cast all your cares on Him”. This trust of surrender, of dependence and of letting that nagging sense of responsibility go is not easy, but it is always best. The “striving” or “laboring” to come into His rest for me is the surrender of control, the letting go. There is not true rest for the soul-weary until this happens.
In family, work, church or in school He asks me to surrender a sense of ultimate responsibility for making and keeping peace, the happiness and/or well-being of loved ones, the healing work, the restoration, the perfection, the reconciling, the approval…the list goes on.
In all of this, there is a call to rest and to be still – a call to dependence both on Him and on His people.
All of this requires a level of brave vulnerability. The vulnerability I’m talking about isn’t the pseudo-uncomforable-Sunday-school kind in which we bear just enough to get by. No, brave vulnerability doesn’t mean showing the areas in which we are most comfortable and calling it “transparency”. That’s phony.
Vulnerability is a show of weakness, not of strengths. It’s a leaning on or leaning into a trusted someone.
There is a circle in which I trust people and a smaller circle in which I trust people enough to brave vulnerability. Then there’s an even small circle in which those people who were trusted with vulnerability are also trusted to help guard my resting heart and hold me accountable.
So, “This is how we know we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence. Even if our hearts condemn us we know that God is greater than our hearts.”
Even if my heart condemns me and says I’m not measuring up to the work, even when my heart condemns me and says to do more, to be more…..Even then, He is greater than my heart. And He is my Rock, my hard rest.