Labor to Enter His Rest

Do you trust God enough to enter His rest?

Take a look at this verse, and let it soak in for a minute:

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Philippians 3:10-12 (NIV)

Not only did Paul know that he would share in the sufferings of Christ, he WANTED to share in His sufferings, becoming like Christ in his death.

What was Christ in His death? Shannon Woodward shared a few sobering words in her poem this month based on Isaiah 53 listing them as: grief, fear, shame, regret, hunger, thirst, wrath, terror, judgment, and death.

Paul’s vigorous journey to the cross reminds me of the verse in Hebrews 4:11 which says, “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.”

Rest and the cross—can the two be compared? Absolutely—let me explain why. When we enter His rest, we give up our fight. Like the shell of a puppet His hand takes over and begins to animate our life. It’s not easy to put down our will so that His can be done. It’s not easy to face shame for His sake or judgment or terror, but we might when we chose God’s will over ours for our lives.

What about hunger and thirst? Do you know that hunger is a running theme throughout the scriptures? God fed the Israelites on Manna for forty years to teach them that He alone sustains life. Complete dependency on Him is the eternal lesson we all must learn. Dependency = rest. Again we see this complete dependency from Jesus himself in John chapter 19:

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:27-30, NIV

When I look at lessons like that, my diet—my struggle to eat less and move more, to stop when I’m full—pales in comparison. It just one thing of many that I need to hand over to God in my life.

Let me paint a scenario. You’ve eaten a good dinner, stopped when you were satisfied and feel pretty good about the choices you’ve made. 30 minutes later the TV goes on, and the family starts rummaging through the kitchen for a television snack. Suddenly you get the munchies. Your brain starts off slow, and then goes into a wild frenzy of arguments giving you every reason why you deserve to eat more than you should. Telling you that you can break the rules “just this once” even though you know that last night, and the night before that, and the night before that, were the “just once” days too.

Say “No.”

What’s the worst that can happen? You suffer a little internal sting, while others around you indulge. As Paul said, make every effort to enter into His rest, which includes the resolution that God, and only God can sustain us.

Getting through the little lessons like these help to strengthen us for the tougher ones:  grief, fear, shame, regret, wrath, terror, judgment, and death.  It’s not easy to put down our will so that His can be done, but I promise you this, it will bring peace to your life.

©2009, Darlene Schacht

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