Many days I wake up with the subtle but strong feeling that I need to be doing more, that I somehow don’t measure up and that failure is just around the corner unless I get up and manage it quick. That is what Paul would call the old man, the remnants of Old Dave that needs to encounter the Spirit of God ASAP every day. Thus, the habit of a daily time with the Lord in His word, in prayer and in contemplation is an invitation to let the Holy Spirit help us learn to live in His power one moment at a time. Your experience from day to day with your “old man” or “old woman” may look different, but the answer to that old person that condemns us is learning life in the Spirit through our relationship with Jesus.
The old man’s focus on our performance is a remnant of our fleshly nature that says we can do life without God. This fleshly nature is at odds with the Holy Spirit who teaches us to live by faith in the finished work of Christ for us. (Galatians 5, Romans 7-8). The Gospel, the good news of who Jesus is and what God the Father has done for us through Him, teaches us to rest and wait patiently for God to work in us that which is pleasing in His sight (Hebrews 13:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; Jude 24-25).
Few of us like to wait on anything. We want it now, and the temptation can be overwhelming to take matters into our own hands to try to “make something happen.” When we yield to this temptation, we wear ourselves out doing works that are not led by the Spirit and produce no lasting fruit. That’s exhausting to just think about! Rather, the Father invites us to rest in the knowledge that He alone can bring about the change we need. He instituted the Sabbath from the beginning for our benefit, and the Sabbath is fulfilled in our “rest” in Jesus Christ. The whole book of Hebrews in the New Testament is the invitation and admonition to learn to live in this true “rest,” the “rest” that comes from believing the good news about Jesus. The warnings in Hebrews all point to the dangers of rejecting this amazing, final work and word of God to us in Christ.
We can’t fix ourselves, but we can draw close to the One Who can. And rather than working us to death, His death on the cross purchased His REST for us! “Come to Me all who are weary and I will give you REST!” (Matthew 28:11-30, my emphasis added…) There is no doubt that God’s power works in us by His Spirit so that we will do mighty things for God. Paul said that God’s grace worked in him such that he worked harder than all the other church leaders! (1 Corinthians 15:10)
But there is an infinite difference between works that are inspired by the Spirit and works that are motivated by guilt, shame or fear! Those motivations come straight out of our fallenness that began in the Garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit leads us to Christ and to rest in Him, and the works He inspires flow from a response to His love for us.
The beauty of all of this is infinite – but today, the Lord connected those dots between waiting and rest in a powerful way. The encouragements related to rest in the Scriptures are abundant – “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength…” “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning…” “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls…” Rather than being motivated by guilt, shame and fear, we can rest, wait for the Lord and respond with the energy of His Spirit as He leads us to action.
And God, in His mercy, paces us so that there is time to rest – sometimes physically, always spiritually. Waiting used to be such a difficult thing for me – but I am learning to love the space for rest that waiting creates. So rather than waiting anxiously, He invites us to rest in the finished work of Christ for us. We truly don’t have to be anxious, we can think about good things. We don’t have to generate our own attempts at good works out of guilt, fear or shame. We can learn to walk in the good works He has prepared for us. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
We can learn to enjoy His rest – A God who worked for us through Jesus and works in us by the Spirit so that we can learn life in the Spirit rather than being slaves to dead, self-inspired works motivated by guilt, fear and shame. Lots of activity can seem like a good thing until it wears you out. Then you realize that God’s pace frees you from fruitless guilt motivated activity to live in the Spirit and invest in His works that bear fruit for eternity.
Thank you Lord for teaching us to wait on you so that we can learn to rest in what you have already done for us in Christ! Thank you for all of your promises that are yes and amen in Christ. Thank you for teaching us life in the Spirit and setting us free from the law of sin and death that binds us up in guilt, shame and fear. Let us learn the joy that comes from the pace of waiting and rest that fuels us up for grace inspired, Spirit-led works in your strength!
Are you waiting? Enjoy His Rest!!! Aaaaaaah, it is really refreshing! Then when He motivates you to move, do so with His strength and joy! Waiting and resting in Him prepares you for His next Spirit-led, fruit-filled work! Could our God really be that Great? Yes, He is!!!