Can you get tired of resting?
I once asked that question during a sermon, unaware that it would be received as a laugh line. While my humor may be wry enough to elicit such a response, I think my aim was at something more direct.
Specifically, my musing wanted to know whether the talk of rest, even the reality of rest, could somehow make God's people feel restless -- as if resting served as a suspicious sign of spiritual laziness, or as a lack of radical commitment, or as something perhaps more deviant.
What if someone actually finds the revelation of rest as both needful and, well, restful?
Relatedly, over the years I have asked other pastors if they find themselves drawn to a repeated theme, or an urgent emphasis in application, as they preach. Without suggesting that it is the best answer, I have discovered that mine is the rest answer. That is, I feel practically compelled to proclaim the "rest of the story" that God is revealing in his Word.
From creation to consummation, from Genesis to Revelation (ex. Genesis 2:2-3; Revelation 14:13), rest is revealed in terms of a people and a place who enjoy both Sabbath and salvation (cf. Exodus 20:12-15; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Hebrews 11:8-16). Rest weaves itself as a common thread in the tapestry of truth. Along the way, the experiential need -- and the exhortation -- is to enter that rest (cf. Hebrews 3:7-4:11).
Ultimately that rest is God's own rest, a rest that he enjoys, and into which he invites sinners to enjoy with him. Trusting Jesus is the way to enter that rest, both now and forever. As Jesus said straight out: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
Because sinfulness is the basic cause of restlessness, and since the burden of unrest is a basic result of unbelief, the only way to rest rightly is to come to Jesus. The good news is, for all whose trust is in Jesus, his work in living and in dying and in rising, satisfies all the conditions for entering God's rest. In short, the labors of Jesus earn for his people true righteousness and eternal rest. Faith grabs hold of this good news.
Consider anew how this theme reveals a God who gives rest because of the all-sufficient labor of his own Son. And today, may you, too, happily hear in Jesus' invitation a call to cease from your own sinning, and to cease from your own strivings, and to find your rest in him alone.
From its beginning to its end, this will remain "the rest of the story" that I will not grow tired of resting in myself. Nor tired of telling.
-- The Rev. Dr. Craig Davis is minister at Grace United Reformed Church in Kennewick. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.