Learning to Rest

When I was a boy, Ted Turner’s fledgling Superstation served up a daily heapin’ helping of 50’s and 60’s pop culture.  Afternoons were fed by a diet of Gilligan’s Island, The Munsters, Leave it to Beaver, The Beverly Hillbillies and  I Love Lucy.  We all nurtured a crush on Mary Ann, because Ginger was out of our league. We shared Marilyn Munster’s pain as the ugly duckling.  We had a neighbor-kid like Eddie Haskell who snowed the adults and terrorized the kids, and we wondered why Lucy and Ricky slept in twin beds when none of our parents did.

As an adult, however, I uncovered the answer to that final enigma.   Like many married couples, my wife and I have very different preferences for a good night’s sleep.  I throw off all the covers and  roll over and over like a rotisserie chicken.  Meanwhile my wife has four layers of progressively heavier covers, values stillness, and maintains a vast collection of strategically placed pillows.  And then there are the rice socks, microwaved every night, to provide her with the warmth my feet cannot generate.  Years ago, a massive reordering of bedrooms out our house, led to a marital revolution.  My wife and I found ourselves left with two single beds pushed together.   Dual climate control and independent suspension in the bedroom have done wonders for sleep and marriage. 

It is curious that we require so many props and preferences to sleep.  The thing we were created to spend the most time doing, is the most elusive and complicated dimension of our lives.  We accumulate more and more sleep strategies – “my-pillow,” memory foam beds, sleep therapy, teas and supplements, but we still struggle to ever feel rested.  We pour our heart, soul, and strength into the pursuit of leisure, be we have no idea how to actually rest.

Perhaps, rest — so fundamental to human life — eludes our grasp because we refuse to consult our instruction manual.  The Bible has a lot to say about rest and speaks of it as one of God’s great gifts.  It is woven into the fabric of time.  God created the seventh day specifically for the purpose of rest that man’s life would not be one of unending toil.

Jesus noted that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.   Both the promised land and life in heaven is pictured as rest – not the cessation of productive life or endless sleep, but life lived without strife and adversity.   Perhaps rest is so elusive for us because sin and its effects make it hard to envision life without the strife and adversity.

The apostle Paul, in his final words in Timothy commands him to “stay strong” in the face of weariness and failure in ministry.  But Paul gives Timothy more than a hashtag or a silicon bracelet.  He gives him a word of substance.  The key to staying strong is not trying harder, but learning to rest in Christ.  This sounds great, but how do we do that?  If we can’t figure what it looks like to get eight hours of sleep, how are we going to be able to rest in Christ?   Paul gives Timothy a powerful picture when he tells him,

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Paul’s prescription is simple.  “Timothy spend your time with God’s Word and not with the words of men.”  Be diligent to learn and meditate on God’s promises, grasp the height, depths and breadth of His steadfast love for you, and seek wisdom from His Word to cut away all the unrestful words that infect our hearts with despair.  To rest in Jesus, we must rest in the promises and truth found in His Word.   What does it take for you to rest?  Have you learned to rest in Christ?

Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission spent many years struggling to connect with the people in the Chinese interior.  He worked harder and harder without any results.  He was exhausted.  In a letter to a friend he expressed his frustrations.  His friend’s wise response became his “spiritual secret.”

How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith…but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity. – Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret

How to have faith increased?  Not by striving after faith, but by resting in the faithful one.  Join us this Lord’s Day, March 10, as we examine 2 Timothy 2:14-19 and learn how to rest in Christ.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.