Working out my rest?
For many years, I misunderstood eternal life. I saw eternal life as something that began after I left this life. You know the old "pie in the sky when you die by and by" bit. At that time, I also saw salvation primarily as the forgiveness of sin, a "get out of jail free card" for hell. In more recent times, the Spirit has shown me a broader picture than that. Salvation includes forgiveness, but it is really about a growing relationship with God, in which my heart is transformed into the image of Christ. With that perspective, eternal life includes Heaven, but it's actually already in progress as I seek "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven".
With that backdrop, I experienced Hebrews 4 in a brand new way after listening to our brother Steve Marshall. Yes, there is an over-arching future flavor to the verses there. But if I miss the here and now of them, I think I lose something valuable.
"God again set a certain day, calling it 'Today.' This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'
... There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest..."
- Hebrews 4:7, 9-11
Yeah, there's pie! And I get to taste it now, as in "today", so says the Hebrew writer. But he also says something else - "make every effort to enter that rest". What??? Isn't rest supposed to be restful? What's this "effort" stuff? Steve gave us some insight there. Sabbath does not necessarily mean inactivity, although it's easier to find if I'm operating with some margin. Sabbath does mean times of refreshing, reflecting on God, resting in Him. Astonishingly, the perspective I gain from Sabbath tends to lighten my load (Matthew 11:28-32) and create some margin I did not think I had or could afford. So I can Sabbath while I am taking a nap, or I can Sabbath when I am worshiping in the assembly, or I can Sabbath when I'm taking a hike, or I can Sabbath when I'm playing a board game with my kids. Any or all of the above qualify if they help me re-connect with my Father. This is so vital that God modeled it (Genesis 2:2) and He commanded it (Genesis 2:3). Not as a burden (Mark 2:27), but as maintenance for my soul.
Hey, if you made it this far, maybe you have three and a half minutes for a really good song. This is Andrew Peterson, the song is called "Rest Easy". Heads up, eyes open, men.