Life, I think, is about seasons. At least that’s what the teacher in Ecclesiastes wrote. That there is a time, or a season, for all things under the sun. It’s true in our churches. It’s true in our families. It’s true in our work.
On that last point, there are seasons when we work in which we will be busier than others. More stretched. More tired. More challenged. There will be times when we feel more satisfied than others. And then the season changes, over and over again.
But even as the seasons change in our work, there is yet a posture that does not. That posture is one of rest. Read how the writer of Hebrews described it:
“Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11).
Illuminating, isn’t it? That if you defined “rest” using only these verses, then you come to realize that rest is not necessarily sleep; it’s not necessarily increased leisure; it’s not even necessarily inactivity, though all of those things matter. Rest goes deeper. Rest is a state in which we enter into – no, not only that we can enter into, but one that we should make every effort to enter into.
The passage likens this state we can enter into to the rest that God Himself entered into during His creation of the world. We should ask ourselves here why exactly God – the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the Source of all there is, rested. Was He worn out? Did He need a break? I don’t think so. God rested because God was finished. Everything was done exactly as it should have been done. The rest of God, then, is a celebration of completion; it is born not out of necessity but out of doneness. The same thing is true for us.
We can rest because “it is finished.”
For us, it means that we can live in a constant state of the celebration of the finished work of Jesus. The state of true rest is one which we can only enter into through the gospel which tells us that because of what Jesus has done on our behalf, we can, at last, stop striving. We can live in a sense of wholeness and peace of heart because Jesus has finished His work on our behalf and for the glory of God at the cross. We don’t have to earn God’s approval; we don’t have to jockey for position; we don’t have to warrant any measure any more. It is finished, and we are the firmly established and beloved children of God.
If, then, rest is this state – this posture – then we can move through life, and work, while living in this state of rest. You can go to the office today and rest. You can lead the meeting today and rest. You can mark off items from the to-do list one by one and rest.
You can, in other words, work very hard all the while you are resting.
You can rest today while you work today. But that doesn’t mean you’re not at work. It doesn’t mean you’re not physically tired. It means instead that you can to your soul and say the same words that Jesus offered time and time again: “Peace to you.” He offered that greeting then and now for the same reason – that He is risen. And because He has risen, it is finished.