Restlessness is part of fallen humanity. It’s that feeling of always searching for something, but never finding a lasting contentment.
You’ve seen this in your friends; you’ve felt it in your own heart. Some of us flit openly from one thing to another. Some hide the restlessness behind worry, stress, and anxiety. How does restlessness manifest itself in your life?
For me it was all about seeking approval. I have been so sensitive to criticism my entire life. I wanted to be accepted, so I worked hard to fit in. You know, we just do things to try to fit in. I mean really, some of the fashion from the 90’s? I am still embarrassed…
Social events? Count me in- I could be out every night! It looked like I was go, go, go. But what I actually was – was unfilled, insecure, restless.
Why do we try to protect what Jesus needs to purge? Why do we hang on to things that exhaust us? Since the rebellion of Adam and Eve, human hearts have been restless. But, I have some good news. In Hebrews 4: 9 it states that “There remains then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God.” That sounds good, doesn’t it? But what exactly does it mean? Surely, it’s more than a quiet Sunday afternoon at home once in a while. My soul needs a place to live, not just a visit! My heart needs a place of safety to be restored. Anybody else relate to this?
When we hear the word “rest” today in 2016 in our culture, we think of being still, taking a nap, some quiet time. But the Hebrew word Shabbat, which we pronounce as Sabbath, does not imply “lack of activity,” but rather “active living.” Active living within an environment perfectly suited for humankind – an environment in which righteousness reigns – an environment marked by shalom – peace, wholeness, and harmony. The environment that was present at Creation.
God designed us to live in a world marked by shalom and Sabbath-rest. But we’ve been born into a fallen world – not into the environment perfectly designed for us. We are not resting – we are struggling. It’s no wonder we flit from one thing to another seeking fulfillment. We do anything and everything to fit in. Or we worry. And we stress. We grow anxious and depressed. We live restlessly when all along, Sabbath-rest is possible.
Let me continue on in Hebrews 4: 9 all the way through verse 11: “There remains then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (Now, the NKJ uses the word diligent instead of effort– I personally like the word diligent because it clarifies that – you have to be persistent in your endeavors to press through the emotions to grab hold of the truth). In the next verse Hebrews 4:12 it states that the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword. Just let the Word of God cut away from what is keeping you from the rest of Jesus. I have learned something, I would rather go through the pain of letting go of the things that make me restless and all their bondage and junk, than miss the wonderful rest of Jesus. The restlessness that comes from trying to prove myself, having material things to bring status or the efforts from trying to have everyone like me. It exhausts! I want rest. It only comes through Jesus. This is one of those times when you have to just go for it say “Ok, God, cut away the things that make me restless and the lies that protect them. You bring it on and I’ll just hang on.” I want the rest that Jesus offers. If others like me, ok. If they don’t like me, that’s ok, too. Jesus loves me and that is enough. I can’t even begin to tell you of the freedom that Jesus offers when you live out of His love. You can love others even if they don’t love you back. Because you are so content with Jesus and Him alone that everything else loses it hold. Because you have learned to hold on to the one who makes you whole.
He has made me whole and I don’t have to prove myself or fight to explain my existence.
His love defines me and His word refines me. I will not run from either. I will be diligent to live within the Sabbath-rest of Jesus. Will you join me? More importantly, will you join Jesus?
Director of Congregational Care