Here is the message our pastor preached last weekend. It was really good. I have just been struggling this week.
DOORS: The Door of Rest
How many of us truly live in the place of rest? Do you daily live in peace, without worrying or being anxious about anything? Most people don’t. Yet rest is an essential element of life with God. In fact, it is a promise that He has given us. As the writer of Hebrews says, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)
Now, there are usually two ways people interpret this Scripture. Some people believe this passage is referring to someday in Heaven. But I think it’s talking about living in the place of entire dependence on God, daily trusting in Him for everything – money, health, the future, everything.
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us have to admit that we don’t live this way. We don’t really trust God fully and completely, even though we say we do, and sometimes even think we do. Whenever life gets hard and difficult things happen, we start to worry and try to take back control rather than trusting God. This is the opposite of resting. It is stressing, and it doesn’t accomplish anything. Jesus said, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Obviously, no one can, yet we still worry – about our life, kids, health, etc. In fact, some experts say that most of us spend half our lives worrying … about things that never happen! And, we’re worrying ourselves sick, literally. Studies have shown that the majority of illnesses have stress (or the inability to deal with stress) at their root.
To live the abundant life God promised, we have to get to the place of rest. But, we have the tendency to believe the negative (all the bad things that might happen – the what if’s) before we believe the positive (that God loves us, cares for us, and will never leave us or forsake us). This is all part of the curse. You see, God had a simple plan for man:
- Live in dominion over creation – the plants, animals, etc.
- Be a good steward. He basically said to Adam and Eve, “Take care of this garden and you will always have plenty, all your needs will be met.”
- Fellowship with Him. God wants us to have a daily, life-giving relationship with Himself.
- Rest in Him. That is, trust that He is able to take care of every situation; no matter how hard it is, or what the devil throws at us. God can and will take care of us.
That was it. But, Adam and Eve didn’t follow God’s plan. They chose their own way and so came under a curse. Out of that curse a new religion was born: Humanism. This is the belief that “If it’s going to happen, it’s up to me,” or “If you’re going to get to God – you’re going to have to work to get there. You have to talk, act, pray and/or worship in a certain way or God won’t love you,” or that “God helps those who help themselves.”
None of these beliefs are biblical, yet it seems we all have a bit of humanism in us. Whenever we get stressed, we start trying to do things ourselves. We try to make sure things go the way we think they should go. We take control. Somewhere along the way, we’ve bought into the humanistic lie that we are in control. But in reality, when we do this, we take our hands out of God’s hands and set ourselves up in His place. But we are not God. We have no creative power in and of ourselves. And we will never find peace and rest outside of His hands.
And that’s why Jesus came: to teach us how to put and keep every part of our lives back into God’s hands; to trust the Father completely; to live as He did – doing only what He saw His Father doing. Jesus invites us to give up the atheism of worry and to get out from under the weight of life’s circumstances. He says, “Come up under me and let me carry the weight for you – that of your kids, your finances, your future, everything – that’s what I came to do – to set you free from worry.”
Read the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…” When you have this perspective of God, you get what it’s all about – you have entered rest. Let me ask you; is there a want in your life? Are you living with a lot of wanting? If so, you are not living with the Lord as your shepherd. When the Lord is your shepherd you will not want. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll have everything you want and nothing will go wrong. But, it does mean that in the midst of life, even during struggles, you’ll have a sense of contentment and peace, trusting that no matter what, God is in control, He is loving, and He will accomplish His good purposes.
So, it boils down to this: will we continue trying to control our lives by ourselves, or will we start trusting God and turn control over to Him? God is inviting us to leave fear, worry and anxiety. He wants to set us free from the addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, approval or other coping mechanisms that we use to calm our nerves or help us feel like we can get through life. All we have to do is come to Him and surrender our lives, our future and our control to Him. Yes, it can be a real struggle – we don’t like being out of control. But God will help us and take care of us if we’ll just surrender and enter the Door of Rest.