Wapta Falls, British Columbia, Canada
Before I leave you on this four-part series on rest, there is one more thing to understand that is vital to your own quest for rest.
You already know attaining it will not be easy and even practicing it will prove problematic just as practicing anything we are not good at usually is.
What is vital to understand?
The enemy does NOT want you to recognize rest is a gift nor does he want it to be operationalized in your life through practice.
To receive the gift of rest and practice to more fully reside in it is a threat to all he counts on where believers are concerned. He is very familiar with our weaknesses. He knew those potential weaknesses were there before the Garden of Eden and he has been studying human beings ever since. He knows what tempts any one of us, how to seduce us away from his long-time foe, and then pull us into frustration and condemnation.
The truth is:
Dislodging the gift of rest from our awareness, our acceptance of it, and our practice of it are key elements of the enemy’s battle strategy against us.
He has many weapons in his arsenal and he also knows which ones are most effective for each of us. What are some of these weapons?
They include, but are not limited to distractions of any and all kinds, ambitions run amok, worry, anxiety, fear, anger, self-pity, self-centeredness, jealousy, envy, loneliness, relationship issues, addictions, too many leisure pursuits, too few hobbies, laziness, the pursuit of wealth, over-involvement in the church, or excess fascination with worldly wisdom. These things and many others distract us from the Lord.
His enemy, our enemy, could not be more delighted with that. He doesn’t care whether we get overly involved with bad things or good things so long as it takes us away from resting in the Lord. Anything that pulls us away from the Lord is his ultimate goal because it is then that we become easy prey. He is so good at this strategy that often we do not even recognize he has set the trap for us in this area. That is especially true if the loss of rest comes from doing good things and involving ourselves in the work of the church.
Satan wants our time, our attention, and our worship. It has always been that way.
That should not result in us scurrying around in exhausting battle positions. He can use that to seduce us into believing once again that we must achieve rest.
We will be more effective if we maintain our practice schedule of rest so that our focus does not waver and we are not upended.
Jesus’s earthly ministry was comparatively short. He knew it would be. Did we see Him rushing around, adding more healing services to his calendar, adding one more prayer meeting to His week, and trying to find space for an additional discipleship-training module? Of course not!
Jesus only did what the Father in heaven showed Him. He rested in Him, trusted Him without wavering. As a result, He often went off alone to rest and to commune with the Father. Other times, He hung out with friends whose company must have refreshed Him as well.
Jesus had been drawn into the wilderness for His testing. The enemy waited until He was exhausted and famished and then he offered his gifts of food, power, and position. He knew Jesus would be at his weakest humanly.
The enemy does the same thing with us.
More than 40 years ago a very wise little lady who had walked with the Lord for a very long time gave me a very good piece of council. It has been a tutor in my own quest for rest.
Here it is:
“The enemy will do one of two things. He will make you tired or busy.”
I love the way Jesus puts everything into perspective and points us to what we need to know about rest.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mt. 11:29-30 The Message