Return to Your Rest

It’s audio devo day!

A lifestyle of inner rest will not come by default. This week we wrap up our Soul Rest series talking about how to aggressively go after quiet until it becomes part of us. Will you put aside what seems most pressing to embrace what is most crucial? Snuggle up with a cuppa and get ready for Holy Spirit to pour His peace into you as you listen here:

(Know someone else that needs to hear this today? You can either share today’s blog link with them, or look up my Feeding on Jesus podcast for sharing and subscribing. You’ll find it at these links on iTunesGoogle PodcastsStitcher, and most other podcast platforms, with episodes identical to these audio devos!)

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“…That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:2b-3, NIV).

This verse is really special. Think about it for a moment. Just how much does God love us? It gives Him great pleasure for us to live quiet lives. It delights His heart for us kids of His to have lifestyles marked by genuine peace and restfulness. So let’s go ahead and dig into a few more of His loving thoughts on this matter.

First of all, He wants us to understand that quiet and peace do not come by default. A funny-sounding verse out of Hebrews points this out to us: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” (Heb. 4:11, ESV). Wait a minute here. Don’t “striving” and “resting” sound like a contradiction of terms? As strange as this may seem, they are not. You see, oftentimes we have to engage in a fierce battle to protect our rest and our quietude.

A side note here about this Scripture. Even more than an external quiet, God is talking to you and me about inner quietude: a heart at rest. However, in order to enter into God’s rest within our souls, we will need to build quiet into our physical lives as well. This will not come without a fight.

Consider this. What is the context in which you live? Is it the frantic, break-neck pace of a society full of people anxiously busying themselves to shut out their emptiness? Is it a culture where the more hectic and packed your schedule, the more “virtuous” you are? If so, then you get me when I say that it won’t come without a fight.

See, this is exactly what the Bible means by saying we must strive to enter God’s rest. We will have to fight against a myriad of demands screaming our names. We will have to learn to say “no” to what seems most pressing, in order to make room for what is most crucial. If we truly want to live the way that God intends – the kind of life marked by enduring inner rest – we must build windows of quiet into our schedule. It’s a non-negotiable. This is the only way to cultivate His calm stillness inside of our hearts.

I already hear somebody’s mind protesting. “But where would that fit??” “Others can have that luxury, but it’s just not possible for me.” Like I said, you’re going to have to fight for it. This includes the fight against the thoughts in your head that shout “Impossible!” Dear one, you will have time for whatever is most important to you.

Ruminating on that truth, here are some alternate translations of Hebrews 4:11 for our meditation together (emphasis mine on each):

It takes a decision – a diligent, earnest; even zealous decision – to make every effort to enter God’s rest. This is a decision you are going to need to make over and over and over, until building quiet and rest into your schedule becomes as ingrained to you as all your other lifestyle habits. Go after it, dear one! Go after it until you make it your own.

There’s something else. You will also need to commit to a special kind of training process that Daddy God wants to take you through. This is a training process where you will learn to quiet your soul in His presence. If you got a chance to enjoy our episode, “A Calm Soul,” you will recall this relevant verse: “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother” (Ps. 131:2, NKJV).

Calming our souls… easier said than done, right? Quieting ourselves before the Lord is not easy. Applying this discipline in everyday reality takes a whole lot of specific, intentional practice. Challenging? Definitely. Impossible? Absolutely not. Jesus showed us the way. As perfect as He was, living here on earth among us, even He had to intentionally calm His own soul. After all, He was fully human, just as we are.

Just like us, He had to navigate the pressures of life on earth. He did life with twelve men full of flaws, foibles, and rough edges. He had to weather their immature jostling for position. And that was nothing compared to what He had to endure from the religious leaders. He was keenly aware of the unmitigated hatred flowing in His direction constantly from them. There was no reprieve from this.

Perhaps the greatest stressor of all, though, was the human pain that surrounded Him daily. He deeply felt the suffering of the lost sheep all around Him. Their brokenness stirred His deeply compassionate heart continually. Their voices clamored for His attention all day; their demands pulled on Him constantly. Crowds pushed into Him so aggressively that Scripture records Him stepping into a boat to get some space for Himself.

Do you remember the story when He exclaimed, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this?” (Matt 17:17, MSG). You see, Jesus’ soul got overloaded too, just like yours and mine do. He needed to cast His cares on the Father, just like you and I do.

Every day, He would get alone with His Abba to do exactly what the Psalmist describes: to calm and quiet His soul in the Father’s presence. No doubt He often needed to speak to Himself along these lines: “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” (Ps. 116:7, NKJV).

Is that a startling thought, that Jesus needed to talk to His own soul? Well, of course He did! All of us humans are talking to ourselves constantly in our minds, are we not? So His life was an example for us on the right way to do it. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus declared, “I will put My trust in Him,” “Him” being His Father (Heb. 2:13, NKJV). Can you picture Jesus saying firmly to Himself, “I am going to trust My Abba with this one”? Just like us, He needed to remind Himself to intentionally put His trust in the Father when pressures abounded. He needed to choose the right kind of self-talk.

Likewise, we all need to learn how to direct our self-talk in a way that imitates Him. Have you ever told your soul, “Return to your rest, my soul”? Here’s an even simpler way to say it. “Shhhhhhhhh.” I do that whenever I’m needing it. I put my hand on my heart and I lovingly say, “Shhhhhhhh” to myself. It’s my way of calming and quieting my soul. I want to live increasingly in the perfect peace that Jesus is holding out to me. I want to get better and better at returning to His rest when life is chaotic around me. I am so grateful that my Savior left His example for us in this area.

Think about it. If the only perfect Man who ever lived had to calm and quiet His soul; had to redirect His inner being into the Father’s rest… then there is so much grace for you and me.

In the midst of your journey deeper into God’s rest, it’s okay to get overloaded. It will happen. You have permission to be human. Just make a determination that you are going to imitate Jesus’ practice. Like Him, you are going to habitually seek out the Father’s presence in solitude to calm and quiet your soul; to return to your rest.

I can guarantee you this. Once you have firmly decided to carve out time with Him, you will have all the help you need to follow through. Jesus is waiting to guide you into that very quiet place to which He is calling you. This is what He will do for you every single day as you answer His call to get alone with Him:

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul” (Ps. 23:2-3, RSV).

Your Good Shepherd is longingly calling you by name. Will you put aside the urgent to embrace the essential? Will you make time with Him your highest priority? Will you strive to enter His rest today?

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What are some ways that you have been fighting to protect the quiet spaces in your life?

 

 

2 thoughts on “Return to Your Rest

  1. The profound importance of this topic cannot be understated. I was reminded recently that it is critical for me, as an ordained minister, to keep my head and spirit sharp: I was probably the last minister that a beautiful 97-year old lady saw before going to meet her savior. When I enter a hospital room to see someone like Jean, I realized I must always be ready; an off-day is inexcusable. And proper rest prevents an off-day.
    Not long after the sun rises tomorrow, I expect to be sitting under the welcoming shade of Friend Oak, the stalwart centerpiece of my backyard. A quiet, calming way to begin the day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. Just wow. The weighty value of what you just shared is beyond what I feel capable of expressing! A moment that is recorded in His book for all of eternity.

      And the shade of Friend Oak sounds like an exiquisite and sacred place to start your day! I really enjoyed that visual 🙂

      Like

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