Rest has always eluded me. I’m an achiever, a veritable list maker. If I can pen a goal on paper with the hope of crossing it off, I know I can make it happen.
“Make it happen,” became the theme of my late teens and early twenties when I attended a discipleship training program where this statement was mantra. We had more than 100 students, who like me, were eager to know God and receive ministry training.
Like an army, we received marching orders from leaders along with those three words. And we accomplished huge tasks for the church, but the real work of union with Christ and rest in Christ was lost on us.
We worked 15-hour days building the Halloween attraction, “House of Horrors,” which would pull thousands through a hell house designed to preach the gospel. The intention was good, but the tactics pandered to people’s fear of death and only hinted at the crux of the gospel–utter connectedness to a loving God.
We worked for the church like we were working to keep ourselves out of hell—hard and with pure devotion. We—or at least I—approached chapel and daily quiet times with the same make-it-happen attitude.
It’s laughable now. I really thought a relationship with Christ could be initiated and maintained by me. I might actually laugh if I didn’t see so many people chasing that rabbit down the same hole that left me physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.
I must have really believed I could sanctify myself. I had little concept of grace or biblical rest, nor an inkling that I might have a gaping need for both.
When I think about my time spent in Master’s Commission, I see the same heart the older son had in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal. I worked for God like a slave serving a master, not a dearly loved child.
And when love isn’t the core of your theology fear will be.
Until I read Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, I had little understanding of God’s grace beyond the theological.
Ten years later, grace still boggles my mind, and I have a daily need to preach the gospel to myself. If I don’t, my default posture of trying to earn God’s love always returns.
Even after a decade of living in grace, I still prefer a spiritual do-do list that doesn’t include much rest. I want to work at prayer and Bible study, but I’m learning true understanding takes place in restful meditation.
Union with Christ doesn’t happen when we’re on the go all the time.
More and more I notice how truth sneaks into my heart best when I go for a walk or lie down to put the kids to a nap. It’s during these times the metaphors of the Bible make the most sense to me.
It’s at the park with my sons that I see how we’re all just children that God constantly picks up and dusts off.
If you’re in need of rest for your spiritual life, hear the words of Christ today. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS” (Matthew 11:28-29).