The Call to Rest
April 20, 2016
My friends, my search for deeper understanding of God's call to rest has brought me to some interesting places. I'm excited to share what I have discovered with you.
As I pondered and prayed over this, Holy Spirit brought to mind first "trust" and "strength." Specifically these pieces of Scripture.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. — Proverbs 3:5-6
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." — Zechariah 4:6
I then began a search for the word "rest" in the New Testament and discovered there are at least five different Greek words used for this one word. The more obvious one would be koimēsis—to rest, recline, lay down, sleep as used in John 11:13.
Acts 7:49 and Hebrews 3:11 both use katapausis, which refers to a place of rest, the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells. Hebrews 4:8-10 uses the word, sabbatismos, which you can probably guess has to to with the Sabbath. This word holds the promise of “entering now into this rest means ceasing from the spiritual strivings that reflect uncertainty about one's final destiny; it means enjoyment of being established in the presence of God, to share in the everlasting joy that God entered when he rested on the seventh day (v. 10).” — ESV Study Bible Notes
But in Matthew 11:28-29, which is about taking Jesus’ yoke, this little word gets very interesting and takes on implications such as refreshment, freedom and salvation. This word, anapausis, comes from the word, anapauō, which means to rest, refresh, take rest, to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation and is also used in Luke 11:24 about unclean spirits seeking rest but finding none. They live in constant unrest.
Now, if I haven’t lost you (and if I have, just keep reading because this next part if the good stuff). Take a look at this nugget of Scripture.
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” — Mark 6:31
This verse comes at the point when the disciples have returned from traveling and ministering to tell Jesus about all they had done. He calls them to a time of rest to refresh and to possibly reflect (anapauō). What I find very interesting in His direction is that He calls them to a desolate place (Mark 6:30-44).
Now the meaning of this word also means isolated and solitary but even still in these definitions it holds the intent of loneliness and uninhabited. It was a desert, a place uninhabited by people. Yet as they go to this place, the multitude rushes ahead and fills this "desolate" location.
I encourage you to prayerful read this part of Scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to fully bring its symbolism to your heart. I find it quite deep and exciting to reflect upon. This is what I felt Holy Spirit wanted me to see.
Even with a group of people in this place, the disciples still called it desolate. There was hunger there (not just physical), deep needs, unfulfilled desires and wants. Remember, these people lived under ether heavy religious yoke of the Pharisees.
I can remember once years ago being with a group of people I knew yet feeling lonely in that moment and place. I believe the use of this word "desolate" was not just to describe a physical place but the spiritual state of the people thronging Jesus and the disciples. They are desperate for relief, restoration and healing in their lives.
But then something amazing happens. Jesus now tells them to do something about it. The disciples seem confused by Jesus' command, as they can only see what is there—the desolation and lack of provision.
Yet Jesus shows them that even a desolate place can be transformed to one of plenty and provision. Jesus called them to rest from their efforts and to rest in Him. They most likely expected a time to sit and physically rest. Not a lesson about true rest in Jesus, which can be so much more. That even in a time of rest, provision, growth and flourishing occurs. Healing, transformation and even miracles, such as five thousand being fed with two fish and five loaves. Just the symbolism in the bread alone, served by the “Bread of Life” is breathtaking.
And in the collection of the leftovers (vs. 43) we see that abundance. Jesus could have multiplied the fish and loaves to be just enough for the crowd, but He did more. The lesson of "rest" continued in those baskets to reveal the plenty of His provision, generosity, abundance and love.
As the disciples served those people, I dare say they found an unexpected rest. The kind that comes from placing ourselves in the hands of our Creator and saying, "Yes, Lord, whatever you will.” That's the trust of Proverbs 3:5-6 and the strength of Zechariah 4:6 to do what we may think is beyond us—the impossible.
So my friends, my understanding of resting in Jesus is confirmed in my heart by what I suspected and knew it to be, to trust in and rely upon Him. But now I see it as so much more. It's not just a set time apart with Him each day to grow and know Him more. It is an intentional choice to seek this constant state of mind and spirit. To trust in and rely upon Him to renew, restore, replenish, provide, guide and love us, even in our desolate places—spiritual, mental or physical—all of them.
For without Him, they are truly desolate. Jesus is the one who brings the baskets of life and love. We can bring nothing except a willing heart and spirit to receive what He has for us. Our striving can cease as we "rest" in the truth of what He has already done for us.
And there, my friends, we find our true peace, resting in Him regardless of what conditions or situation surround us. To the naked eye the place where the five thousand ate remained a place of desolation, but the desolation in the hearts of many that day were transformed into places full of lush greenery (growth), cool waters (hope) and restoration (revival).
The Way had come into their midst to show them a better way to rest. He beckoned them then just as He beckons us today. And ours is to simply heed His call.
Love you, my friends. May we all respond to His call to go deeper with trust and a loud, “Yes, Lord!” That is my desire and longing and my heart for you.
Copyright: kwest19 / 123RF Stock Photo