There is real rest available for you. This passage teaches us that “entering His rest” is something that He calls us to do. In fact, the next verse urges that we make “every effort” to enter it. The ESV’s rendering even says we are to “strive” to enter it. The emphatic connotation on this verb phrase implies that we are to channel all of our focus into appropriating the inner rest that God has made accessible to us.
What is more, Holy Spirit even tells us that to do anything less would be disobedience. “So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God” (v. 6, NLT). “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (v. 11, ESV). We can conclude, then, that learning to enter and live inside of God’s rest is actually normative for real Christian living. He expects that His committed disciples will make this their goal and gradually, little by little, grow up into it.
What, then, is this place where He wants us to live? Verse 10 above is key to understanding it. “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Entering His rest, and staying there, means ceasing from our own labors. It means we stop trying to fuel our forward movement in God with our own, human efforts. It means we quit straining to push the cart forward, and we get in, and ride. We let Holy Spirit initiate, sustain, and empower all of our spiritual progress.
We discover another key in verse 3: “For we who have believed do enter that rest.” We enter His place of rest by simply believing – by taking Him at His word because we trust the goodness of His heart. When He says to us, “I will be faithful to complete the good work I started in you” (Phil. 1:6), we believe Him. We let go of attempts to change ourselves, and instead yield to His work on this inside of us.
“We who have believed” know that Daddy has promised to carry us forward, and to transform us from glory to glory as we gaze on Him. We lean in, and we hear His gentle voice reminding us, “Listen to me… you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isa. 46:3-4, NIV).
What a simply amazing invitation! God has invited us to just rest, as He carries us. He calls us to enter His very own rest. Hebrews 4 also tells us that He has been resting ever since creating the world (v. 3). Now, this is interesting, because God is obviously extremely busy, overseeing and upholding the universe. He doesn’t sleep. He’s constantly burning a whole bunch of energy, administrating every colossal and microscopic detail of our existence. However, He is at rest. His heart is deeply at rest. And He invites us into that place with Him.
No matter what activities are before you today, you can carry them out from this place with Him. Nestle deeply into His bosom before you run out the door. Linger with Him there. Enjoy Him. Soak up His restfulness. Then, as you do get up and start into your routine, stay. Stay in His arms. Let everything you do today, be Him working through you. Let Him do it all. Live in His embrace. Live, at rest.
None of us have perfected this “living at rest” growth challenge. We are all in process. What works for you, personally, that helps you return to a place of inner rest when one of life’s curve balls has introduced restlessness into your soul?