I am in the process of writing a devotional titled The Search for Rest, and in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, I decided to share some of my thoughts along the way. I am hoping to keep this blog moving forward as I continue to write my rough draft of the book.
With virtually every major study of the Bible that I have undertaken, the trail of discovery has begun in early Genesis. It is Genesis from which the roots of our understanding sprout. And it is in Genesis that we will begin:
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3 (ESV)
When I read this passage, a simple question blares over the loudspeaker of my mind: “Why did God rest?” Was He exhausted like so many of us who plop down in front of the television for some mindless entertainment after a long day? I do not think so. The God who created this massive cosmos with but a few simple words does not become weary or tired (see Isaiah 40:28).
So why, if the Almighty God never grows tired, did He choose to rest on the seventh day of creation? He wanted to communicate a message.
Rest Begins With God
Before delving into a deeper understanding of the mysteries of rest, we must establish a foundational truth upon which a meaningful life is built: rest begins with God. At the start, creation was characterized by a state of rest, or peace, if you will. Unlike the chaotic gods of those myths that flow from the depths of human imagination, the goodness of the one true God was reflected in the universe that He created—and particularly, in our world.
When Adam and Eve fell prey to the serpent’s temptation and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were doing more than disobeying their Creator (Genesis 3:1-6). They were seeking to ascend to His supreme throne, to be all that God is, and to know all that He knows, independent from His presence. It is here that unrest erupted across our planetary terrain. Humanity has no real rest apart from its Creator because rest begins with God.
Aligning With God’s Design
Those who seek rest have no choice but to align their lives with the Lord’s good design. When we speak of making a decision to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we must understand that it is only a necessary beginning. When a person prays, “Lord, not my will, but Your will be done,” a heartfelt choice is being made. But to fully implement that choice across all areas of life will take a lifetime.
Many years ago, when I prayed to become a Christian, I was making a decision to surrender my life fully to the Lord. At that moment, the Holy Spirit entered into my heart and made me a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). And though some things changed in an instant, many did not. I had only begun a process that required renewing my mind so that my new life might become fully aligned with His way of thinking. Yes, I tasted indescribable peace in those early days of my salvation, but learning to continually abide in that peace has been another story.
Am I trying to discourage you with the prospects of a long, difficult journey ahead of you? Not at all. In fact, quite the opposite. As you have likely already realized, the Christian life is a long, sometimes painful journey. Those who belittle you as they communicate an attitude of having somehow “arrived” are missing the heart of what life is all about.
It Is Okay to Struggle
Are you often stressed? Do you find yourself anxious and fearful in a tumultuous world? Do you feel inadequate as a human—like a ball-team reject who can only watch with envy as the superstars shine? It is okay. I do not mean that it is okay forever, to be satisfied with an existence that is less than you know it could be. What I mean is that it is okay right now—in this instant. It is okay to struggle with these issues as long as you choose to embark on a journey toward growth.
Such a journey will lead you to the goodness of God. It will take you along the same rocky paths that the spiritual heroes of past times once pioneered. They came to understand that rest begins with God, and they celebrated a level of intimacy with their Creator that angels can only envy.
As long as you are on this earth, you will never reach a mountain peak of perfection. But that is okay! You do not need to. And that is integral to the mystery of rest—knowing that you can be at peace regardless of your shortcomings because rest begins with God.