I don’t know about you, but I am tired, most of the time. Given the opportunity, I would nap pretty much anytime, anywhere. All of those naps I fought as a kid: I want them back! Anyone else?? In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He might as well have just said “Come to me and I will give you rest” because who’s not weary or burdened? Though maybe that’s the point?
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “rest”? A nap? Or vacation? Camping in the mountains, or lying on the beach with the sound of waves hitting the sand and a little umbrella drink nearby? I could get lost in that thought! Vacations and little snippets of “R & R” are all wonderfully restful, but they are also, sadly, temporary. Kind of like the woman going to the well every day to draw water to quench her thirst, only to thirst again. But Jesus offers her living water (John 4:7-15). Similarly, He also offers us rest: soul-satisfying rest.
When you think of rest, does it ever conjure up images of struggling or fighting or putting forth great effort of any kind? The author of Hebrews writes, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:11). Striving to rest? That seems so oxymoronic. But, the rest he is writing about is a Sabbath rest – a resting in the God who desires relationship with us. That rest is communion with Him! And striving makes perfect sense in that context because, at least for me, there is a daily beating-to-death of the distractions and less important things (read: 30 more minutes of sleep) that must take place so that I can rest and refresh in Him. Saint Augustine states beautifully, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” (St. Augustine’s Confessions)
So what does this “striving” look like? For me, I think there’s a need for a daily routine, rhythm, of getting in the Word, and talking with Him. There’s also a definite need to trust and to not become anxious, because He is in control of all, and He is my “life and length of days” (Deuteronomy 30:20). But mostly, it is choosing that everything else take a back seat while I find my rest in Him. Because if I skip that, if I oversleep and literally can’t find time to be with Him before the demands of the day start slapping me in the face, I am of very little use to anyone…just ask my family!
What about you? What does rest look like for you? And how would you define your striving? Some day, when we are on the other side of eternity, there will be no more weariness, no more burdens, no more striving. Oh what a day that will be! But, until then, let us, together, strive to enter His perfect rest!