“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My Refuge and my Fortress, my God in whom I trust!” Psalm 91:1-2
There is rest…and there is a rest; one is temporary, the other eternal.
We can find a temporary rest by taking a nap, getting away to a quiet place, finding something that we enjoy outside of work and busyness. All of those can be so good and necessary. I love getting away to places like the mountains or the beach, but I often find a sweet respite simply in my backyard – hearing the birds, seeing the wild rabbit or two cautiously make their way in, feeling the gentle breezes or listening to the quiet rain. But we all know it is temporary. We get back to the “must dos” and “demands,” and no matter how much we enjoy the daily tasks of life, we will eventually want another “rest.”
But the “rest” that is eternal can be found even in the “busyness” or the “hard” and allows us to find joy in the wonderful as well as the impossible days and seasons! It is found in relationship with the One who has promised rest for our souls when we have been redeemed and are His children! “Times of refreshing” come when we repent (turn away from self-rule) and turn to God Himself (Acts 3:19), allowing Him to order our steps and settle our souls.
The Psalmist talks about the person who “dwells” in the shelter of the Most High; that person who settles his life under the Lordship of Christ, where he “lives and exists” in his actions and in the very being of his soul! And, when that is His “dwelling,” He will abide; yes, he will encamp and remain in that submitted heart and so be rooted and protected. It is part of that perseverance with which the Holy Spirit equips us that gives us the ability to settle our lives in that “shelter” and there find rest, not just to get “back in the game,” as a dear friend says, but to walk even in the midst of the “game.”
As we intentionally set our gaze on the Most High God through His Word, staying in and standing on that which He has given us to “teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness,” His Spirit strengthens us and “equips for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
As we cry out to Him to give us the ability to focus our sight and to stay and stand, asking Him for that equipping, He meets His children and shelters us from the stormy blasts. He may not take us out of the tempests, but He will settle our soul moment by moment.
As we intentionally remember His faithfulness in the past – yes, even recounting those instances to ourselves and others – and hold firmly to His promised faithfulness in the present and the future, we stand secure.
As we lock arms with other believers, each taking the other boldly to the throne of grace when we are weary or when we long for a chorus of voices to be petitioning our Father, we strengthen one another against those who would tell us we will never have victory over sadness or sin.
Of course, we can choose the opposite of rest; we can choose to make ourselves “lord of our own lives” and live according to our own rules and the emotions that direct our decisions but leave us on shifting sand. We can hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness for ourselves and others and find our souls are scarred and our relationship with the Lord hindered.
But why do we think we would find “rest” in defying the God of all Creation, whose love and justice and mercy are inextricably tied together to reign and rule and give us sure hope?
Why would we choose turmoil when He has given us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and peace for the one whose mind is stayed on Him? (Isaiah 26:3)
Why would we choose to follow our deceitful hearts that lie to us when we can follow Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life and accept the free gift of grace – that Jesus willingly gave his life and was resurrected as payment for our rebellion – and turn from our self-rule and self-worship, throwing off “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles?” (Hebrews 12:1)
Why would we choose the restlessness that comes from following the world rather than the rest that comes from trusting the One who created and established the world and enables us to walk secure even over stony ground?
Though it is hard business at times, truly even the difficult moments ultimately work together for good (even when they are not in themselves “good”) by our faithful God for “those who do love Him and are called according to HIS purpose” not our own. (Romans 8:28)
We will weep, but He wipes our tears.
We will be wounded, but He binds our wounds and allows the scars to be “standing stones,” reminders of His faithfulness.
We will at times feel shaken, but, as we receive Christ Jesus the Lord and “so walk in Him,” we will be “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith.” (Colossians 2:6-7) He will be our rock and our salvation, our fortress, so we will never be shaken! (Psalm 62:2)
We will be assaulted by those seeking, sometimes quite subtly, to whisper as the serpent did in the Garden, “Did God really say?” in an attempt to dissuade us from our sure hope, and so, our rest. But we can and must stand on that which will never be shaken and will never change, His Word.
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:5)
This world is not our home, but we travel it with joy.
This world is not our home, but we travel it delighting in the goodness of our God and His faithfulness.
This world is not our home, but we travel it by setting our hope fully on the grace of God, on Jesus the Author and Perfector of our faith, so that we can run the race set before us with perseverance and endurance, not begrudgingly, but with great expectation and delight.
And when we need that “rest” from the race, we can find it by calling to Him, finding any little spot or wide open space, with open Bible and open heart, and He will give you rest as you eagerly seek Him alone to establish your life and settle your soul even in the most tumultuous times.
“Call to Me, I will answer you and tell you wonderful things that you did not know!” Jeremiah 33:3
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!…Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…” Hebrews 12:1-3, 28