I’m living an oxymoron: I’m busier than ever, yet more inwardly at rest than ever. Maybe that’s what it means to ‘labor to enter God’s rest’ :). This seems illogical, but God’s ways are higher than ours… The key lies in Hebrews 4:10: “The man who goes into God’s rest, rests from his own work”.
Now it makes sense: resting is not necessarily about not working, but about doing God’s work. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says that He will give us rest, and immediately after, He tells us to take on His ‘yoke’. I don’t know about you, but the image of yoked cattle hauling a load doesn’t evoke a sense of rest.
However, Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden light, and amazingly, that is just what I’m experiencing: God-inspired works are life-giving and even energizing. Of course it helps that the Holy Spirit provides the fuel and plenty of left-overs :).
Another eye-opening verse about rest is Isaiah 58:13-14: “If you turn away (…) From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight (…) not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
I used to guard my day off, well, like a guard dog. It was ‘my’ time to do ‘my’ thing and woe to anyone who carried even the slightest scent of interference. Time out is still a necessity, but God-sent interruptions have been so frequent that I couldn’t deny the possibility that my idea of ‘Sabbath’ was skewed. (The key is discerning which interruptions are truly God-sent…)
After all, Jesus Himself ‘worked’ on the Sabbath, saying that God’s law permits us to do good on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10-13). It’s now so obvious: Sabbath is not time off from loving God and others, so I need to hold any plans loosely as to not miss any opportunities that God sends my way.
It’s interesting that Isaiah 58 talks about both true Sabbath and true fasting, seemingly opposing matters. The common thread is our motives. It all comes back to the two great commandments (Mark 12:30,31): whatever we do, rest, work, fast, eat, will be pointless and fruitless unless we are out to love God and others (as ourselves).
Once again, I am amazed at God’s seemingly upside down ways: we labor to enter rest, we fast to be filled, we find delight by not seeking our own pleasure, and we lose our life to find it.
Is there an oxymoronic solution to turn around a challenge you are facing?