How to Rest in God
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. (Hebrews 4:9-10, ESV)
Talitha this morning.
As my Rottweiler pup moves nearer to 17 months, she has calmed down a lot. Nowadays, she is content to go for a walk, but most of all she loves to simply snuggle up and lie next to me on the couch. More often than not, when she’s alone with me she sprawls on her back like this and rests.
You can see Talitha soundly sleeping with her body completely surrendered as she exposes her belly, her most vulnerable part, for a dog to sleep like this means that they absolutely trust you. She has absolute “faith” in my character, as her owner, that she is safe and protected, that I will not harm her; out of the “abundance” of that trust it has overflowed to this posture that she offers me.
My dog is not anxious, worried or stressed; she is not trying to manipulate a situation or take control, she is not fearful, paranoid, or agitated. She is not depressed, despairing, giving up, bitter or frustrated. Instead you see her resting, content with being with me, calm, peaceful, stilled, “joyful”.
It’s not about behaviour modification
And so nearly every time I see her lying like this, I feel like the Holy Spirit is reminding me of the posture I ought to have before my Heavenly Father – a posture of complete surrender, vulnerability and trust. But this posture does not simply come about through behaviour modification.
You see, none of us can simply offer a posture of surrender and vulnerability to God apart from knowing the truth of who He is, or simply stop being anxious, stressed, fearful, and so forth on our own. You cannot even rest more in your own strength; true rest is more that what you physically feel. Yet God does not suggest that we not be anxious but He commands us not to be anxious. So how do you go about not being not anxious, and how do we truly rest in a posture that is honouring to God if we can’t change our behaviour ourselves?
There are many things we try to do to overcome these problems in our own strength and power. Ladies, we know we can try to manipulate situations, try to take control, micromanage. If we fail we can get angry, frustrated, bitter, get stressed and anxious. And if we can’t solve the issue or gain control we can also choose to give up, stop caring or ignore, and we can also get depressed and despondent or feel despair.
Responding to the truth of God’s character leads to being rested
God does not command us to do surrender, trust and vulnerability apart from knowing His true character. Instead He has very intentionally revealed His character through His story as revealed in His Word (both Scripture and the Word made flesh!) that we may be surrendered to Him and be trusting in Him
I can’t really command Talitha to stop being anxious, frustrated or fearful. Instead, in order to train her, I had to show myself as her “pack leader”, I had to demonstrate that I would correct disorder, protect her, not harm her, provide food and lead her to water. In turn, Talitha’s behaviour is in response to a consistent (though imperfect) character that I have revealed about myself to her. Therefore because I have consistently revealed myself to her as someone who will not harm her and will not allow anything dangerous near her while she sleeps, she can rest when she’s with me, she doesn’t need to protect me or protect herself. She can simply be, be vulnerable, exposed, feel safe, be rested.
Talitha is simply responding to truth. We are to respond to the truth of who God is and what He does, did and is going to do. Similarly, one of the many reasons why the Gospel is such good news is because it is the news and truth about what God has done for us. Upon hearing we have an immediate opportunity to respond by resting:- resting from trying to be a better person, resting from labouring to attain, resting from trying to get free or give up. We can rest and be, knowing that it’s God who is going to do,
i.e. because God is my provider and I trust Him to provide me what I need, I don’t have to freak out, or be anxious or stressed about losing a job or worry about when my next pay cheque will be.
God desires that I have the right response to the truth of who He is, and the right response testifies to that truth and glorifies Him.
So how do you get to know the truth of who God is?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2, ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV)
Everything we need to know about God, who is the Word, is in His word, also known as The Holy Bible. But God, who is the Word, also became flesh, in the form of Jesus, so we have some really clear markers on knowing what God is like. Scripture, in fact, stresses that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, that Jesus and the Father are one. ( Col 1:15, Jn 10:30, and more)
If you want to know what God is like, what His personality and character is, just look at Jesus, and I don’t mean what the media or any book says about Him, but what has been historically documented in the Bible.
The rest that remains with us during the week.
Like I said, God did not suggest that we sabbath, (take a day or rest once a week), He commanded it (Exo 20:10-11). As well, God didn’t make man for the sabbath, but made sabbath for man (Mrk 2:27). The Sabbath is a day that we, as Christians, set apart to remember who God is and what He’s done. Ultimately, when we do that we realise that it’s God who does and has done everything.
- When we consider God’s sovereignty and that He is in control, we can be calm, rested and assured, as opposed to stressed, anxious or manipulative.
- When we consider that God is just, we can be forgiving, gracious and merciful and not retaliate because God will eventually take care of it.
- When we consider how God has perfect timing in His perfect will, we can be patient with the things we want.
- When we consider the cross and how God has done everything, paid everything, we can be rested from trying and labouring for His acceptance and love.
And the list goes on… but you get the point right?
When we take that day, with help sought from the Holy Spirit, our Sabbath day becomes more than that-day-you’re-not-”allowed”-to-do-work-day. Taking a true Sabbath allows us to take a day to consider who God is, quiet and rest our souls, and stay rested during the week with the promises of God and the truth of His character at the forefront of our hearts and minds.
The 4 Gs
A lot of the truths and promises of God can be summed up in “The 4 G’s” or the four eternal truths about God, as published in The Gospel Primer by Caesar Kallinowski who helped develop Soma Communities.
- God is Great, so I don’t have to be in control
- God is Glorious, so I don’t have to fear others
- God is Good, so I don’t have to look elsewhere for my satisfaction
- God is Gracious, so I don’t have to prove myself
What has God promised you?
All of what God has revealed and promised about Himself can be weighed in His word, in scripture, anything that you have heard, whether from a “prophet”, pastor, preacher, angel of light that is not consistent with scripture is sketchy to say the least.
So what has God promised you? What truth of God allows you to be in someway? Why not share it with your friends or leave a comment to the blogosphere below!