I am Guided by the Good Shepherd, I have been offered rest, Who I am in Christ

Invitation to Rest

Hear the Good Shepherd’s gentle call. He invites you, his sheep, into His rest. In any season of life–storms, paradises, sorrows and joys–he is extending his generous offer. “Come, and know my rest.”

The Good Shepherd
A Davidic psalm.
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff — they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
as long as I live.

Psalm 23, HCSB

I have been offered rest

He Is My Good

But as for me, God’s presence is my good. ~Psalm 73:26, HCSB

We did a special event tonight in Awana. It was called A Walk In Their Shoes. As an attempt to help our clubbers understand how much we have as Americans and how much so many others don’t have around the world, one of our sponsors put together an interactive program. We explored several areas of life—housing, food, water and toys.

It was a reminder of how extraordinarily privileged I am in my lovely new home with indoor plumbing, two water filer systems and multiple flushing toilets. It makes me very thankful. But, as I sit here in all this prosperity, I realize that it also can make me distant from God. I’m not saying poverty is equal to godliness…likely as not, the writer of this Psalm was not impoverished. But I think my stuff—the things I call blessings, and they are—become my comfort. Or my attempt at comfort. If that is the case, no wonder there are times that I can’t find rest.

How often do we thank God for His “blessings” and miss the fact the HE is our good? Not the stuff, the benefits that often He extends, but God Himself. It’s like me saying that I love my husband because he has given me this beautiful home and a pretty nice car. That’s all good, and I am grateful, but I loved him before all this prosperity entered our lives. I love him now because he’s a good man. If all this stuff were to be stripped away, he’d still be a good man, and I’d still love him.

Can we say the same about God? I read a blog this week about this very question, you can check it out here. Caroline wrote it beautifully. God is good. Period. Good times, bad times, poverty, wealth. He is good.

He is my good. And when I strip everything else down to that truth, that is where I find real rest.

I have been offered rest

Resting at His Feet

You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest. Exodus 34:21

And He was saying to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 3:27

God intends me to rest. He went so far as to command me to rest.  And, like all His commands, it is intended as a blessing, not a burden.  He commanded it because He knows what is best for me.  Jesus made it very clear in the New Testament that this Old Testament command was not to be a chain around our necks.  Can’t you just hear the meaning behind His words?  “God made the Sabbath to help you, and you’ve turned it into a legalistic nightmare.”

So, as I shared on Monday, this past weekend (both the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday and the Christian Sabbath of Sunday) were filled with work for me. God hasn’t punished me for that, or for the string of days before this weekend that were also filled with work.  He is a God of grace.

But His best for me is always … best. It is best to devote a day to rest, to restore myself emotionally, physically and spiritually.  He’s offering this … “Rest, Susan.  Take a day and reflect on me.  Cease from your labor.”

In His presence, I find peace. I find still water.  I find rest for my soul.  But it takes stopping my frantic flurry of activity to get there.

Americans’ schedules are always full. We fill our days with running to and fro.  But like Mary, may we choose the “good part” and spend some quiet time at Jesus’ feet – instead of preparing dinner for Him (or working on the good deed of the day).  He wants our fellowship.

Sweet fellowship with Him is often found in rest.

I have been offered rest

The One Who Knows

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. –Hebrews 4:15-16, NKJV

My daughter and I clashed this weekend. That’s unusual. Don’t get me wrong, I get snappy and my kids aren’t perfect, but we don’t act like a couple of numbskull rams on a regular basis. But Saturday…well, we both hit a physical and emotional wall and things turned ugly. And then we cried, snuggled up together and let all the draining events of the past month stir up the healing tears.

That scene smacked my memory this morning as I read through this passage in Hebrews. Jesus knew exhaustion. He can sympathize with my weakness. Obviously, He wouldn’t have responded the way I did…but He knows the heaviness of a weary body. He knows the overwhelming tide of an enormous job.

Consider some of the major events of Christ’s life that we have recorded:

Crowds. Always, it seems, there was a crowd. Waiting. Watching. Demanding.

Illness. They brought them in droves, the lame, the blind, the deaf, the crazed, the dying. In every corner and every crowd, there were people crying out for healing.

Unbelief. Jesus could not open His mouth without some high-minded, super-educated guy challenging His authority. What gives you the right to forgive? What do you mean we’re slaves—we’ve never been slaves! You’re God’s Son? Ha! We knew your father—he was a lowly carpenter, and we know that your parents weren’t married when your mother conceived.

Weariness. At one point, we see Jesus deep in sleep on a boat while a storm claws at the ship. That’s some kind of tired. Throughout the gospels, He is seen often withdrawing for a time. For prayer. For rest.

Jesus knows my weaknesses. Not just from a screen-view of my life, but from experience. He’s lived them. He can sympathize with them. So, I can come to Him knowing His grace and mercy, as well as His sympathetic heart, will give me the help I need.

I simply need to remember to come.

I have been offered rest, Uncategorized

I Have Been Offered Rest: A Joint Post

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 HCSB

From Jen:

Rest? Ha!

Okay, so Susan and I have been thrust into a couple of hurricane-force schedules over the past few weeks. Our emails have resorted to choppy, fragmented sentences. Exhausted. Can’t see straight. I’m sure y’all can relate, we’ve all been there, right?

So where are these green pastures and still waters Psalm 23 talked about? Where do I get to lie down? And what is Jesus talking about when he says “I will give you rest?”

From Susan:

When ancient rabbis chose their disciples, they picked only the brightest. They’d invite a few straight-A students into their personal disciple-corps with this sentence: “Come take my yoke upon you.”  A yoke, for the non-agrarian among us, was a collar fitted on a pair of oxen so they could pull a plow or cart. A yoke was a burden to those beasts.  And so the rabbis were telling their chosen disciples: “Come, follow my way of doing things. Walk the way I walk.  Put my understanding of our religion on your necks like a yoke.”

But Jesus was a Rabbi of a vastly different sort. He not only offered the invitation to follow Him to everyone (not just a few stellar students) but he told us his yoke would a “light” burden, one that offered rest.

But rest from what? Hectic schedules?  Trials?  Sorrows?  No.  He made it pretty clear that those sorts of burdens will assail all of us, whether we are following Him or not.  The rest Jesus was talking about here was freedom from all the religious rules and regulations, from legalism.  Instead of trying (and failing) to keep a zillion laws, we disciples of Jesus need only to believe in Him, resting in the Work he accomplished for us on the cross.

So what does that mean for Jen and me during our weeks of frantic flurry? For me, it means that yesterday, the Christian Sabbath, I didn’t get zapped. I broke the Sabbath, you see.    I had a huge editing assignment due, and I simply had no other time to do it.  So instead of resting after church and reflecting on God, as the Jewish laws would tell me to do, I got to work, earning money and keeping my commitment to a client.  It’s not my habit to do that.  I usually don’t.  But yesterday … well I didn’t have another choice.

I’m so thankful my Rabbi put a yoke of grace around my neck so that even when my schedule exhausts me, I have rest in Him.