Are you sitting comfortably? I’ll wait…
There, that’s better, right? It’s good to sit. It’s good to relax, to be still and grant yourself permission to just be.
In Rest: Part One, we saw how rest is an internal reality not an outward striving to attain something we do not have. Jesus Christ is Rest. He is our rest. The Trinity’s Resting is Their delight and celebration of Their eternal plan for the redemption of mankind having been fully accomplished in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ: and therefore, of our inclusion in the Life They share together, and have from all eternity! If It’s not finished then we have something to do to finish it, and consequently we save ourselves for He did not/could not. How could that allow you rest? They have done it all and have nothing more to add to it, and now beckon us to fully participate in Their Rest. It may not be our subjective reality or experience yet, but it is Reality nonetheless! We live from there, not to get there. The gospel is simple, but we love to complicate it erroneously believing we have something to add to it through some religious sense of indebtedness.
Regular, physical rest and a breaking from one’s relentless routine are essential to one’s health and well-being. But, better still, in our union with Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we can continually sup from His Rest, from His shalom…and fall asleep in a force ten!
Speaking of crazee storms…Did you ever hear of the Great Storm of 1987? In the south-east of England alone, it felled approximately fifteen million trees (yip, you read that right!) but the remarkable Turner’s Oak in Kew Gardens in London, not only survived the storm, but also changed the way that trees are now cared for around the world. In the autumn of 1987, as hurricane winds of over 120 mph were unleashed, the scale of the devastation was the greatest ever seen since WWII.
Incredibly, at nearly two hundred years old, Turner’s Oak was lifted out of the ground completely, rotated slightly and was simply, slotted back into the hole it created upon being lifted out, its root ball remaining intact. As the arboretum in Kew Gardens had lost 700 tress, it was decided that Turner’s Oak be propped up initially and studied, however, having shown signs of disease before the storm it was agreed to thereafter remove it. It was not until three years later that the Kew Gardens’ staff got around to the task, so vast was the destruction from the storm.
Upon return, they discovered Turner’s Oak to be the picture of health! No one knew why. Further investigation by the head of the arboretum and his staff revealed that the roots’ shaking and disturbance of the soil caused a vast increase in the porosity of the soil, increasing oxygen and water supply to nourish the roots and hence, the tree itself. The years of people walking to the tree also re-compacted the soil around the root bed and thus participated in creating a life giving environment for the tree to thrive.
Turner’s Oak has put on one-third of it’s growth since the Great Storm.
I love the story of Turner’s Oak for it echoes verse 7 of Psalm 116.
“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”
Many people I speak with lately seem to be experiencing, in one way or another, winds of (major) change themselves, and this not always through their own choosing. Circumstances threaten and challenge peace and rest particularly in areas of health, provision, personal dreams and our desire for community and fellowship.
Francois du Toit, in his commentary on Hebrews 3 states;
“You can experience God’s supernatural provision and protection and yet remain outside His rest. The ultimate proof of faith is not experience of the supernatural, but entering into His rest. His rest celebrates His perfect work…He longs for you to discover your own completeness and perfection as seen from His point of view. His rest is sustained in you by what He sees, knows and says about you in reference to the Finished Work of Christ.“
Paul is very clear in Hebrews that upon leaving Egypt, the Israelites could not enter God’s rest because of unbelief; literally, they did not believe God was as Good as He claimed to be. Father did not create you for a life of anxiety, stress, or worry, leaving you alone to finish what He started with whatever you had to hand! “Do your best. It’s up to you now! Oh, and have fun. I’m outta here!”
The real heart of Rest is belief. Belief in the finished work, in God’s Prodigious Goodness.
It is vital we embrace His internal Rest and allow Holy Spirit to cause it to overflow from our innermost to submerge external realities that scream fear, unrest and condemnation.
It is imperative we awaken to the Love which is forever being poured out in our hearts by Holy Spirit convincing us of the joy of our Sonship – His Sonship. Christian maturity does not remove you from His embrace for you to then fend for yourself! It is true childlikeness, an abiding trust in His Goodness and His Finished Work. You can only rest knowing it is finished; that all is taken care of already! Your provision is there…waiting. Father does not drag Himself off His chair to get busy every time we have a problem. He has done it all. Problem solved even before there was one! Forgiven even before we sinned! Saved by Grace! That’s the very nature and heartbeat of the Gospel. As He is, so are you! You are His image and Likeness redeemed in human form, regardless of how you feel or of your circumstances! He has authenticated your humanity in His humanity! You are in Him and He in you. You can rest in this Truth. A Truth so real, C. Baxter Kruger urges us, that “…it baptises our anxious souls with assurance, the most liberating force in all the earth.” Rest assured.
God’s Rest is the antithesis of works; dead works…dead, religious works. Paradoxically, works (or more accurately, acts) of Righteousness are the Fruit of Holy Spirit, of abiding in His Rest. He is the vine, roots and all! You? Me? A branch…at rest, drinking from His nourishment and Life as we continue in this Romance. Rest…and voila! (that’s French, like eh, crepes)…fruit appears! Grapes abound. French wine comes next. Wonderful. And the branch did what, exactly?
Rest assured, whatever storm you are facing right now, will not overcome you. It may seem overwhelming and present as the opportunity to panic, but it is the perfect time to practice His Presence and His Rest. As you choose Peace, the porosity of your soul will increase and His Life will cause you to grow far above and beyond all your imaginings. Worry, stress and condemnation stunt growth and choke life. But you are an oak of Righteousness, more valuable than Turner’s Oak, and I have no doubt that any storm or disruption – to our way of thinking or understanding the Trinity and our discovering Christ in us and others – will only serve our good, as we rest and Trust Him. Whatever it is we face is not our identity. He is! He has Finished it. You can give yourself permission to rest.
As He is.