The words were shocking to me. I was not prepared to hear the doctors’ diagnosis. Although this occurred many years ago, I can still recall the day vividly. During that particular period of time I was clearly in a funk. I was struggling mentally, emotionally and physically. Most of the people who knew me would testify that I was not myself. The physical symptoms were persistent but not severe: occasional chest and arm pain along with an overall feeling of fatigue. My wife finally convinced to make an appointment with our family doctor and get to the bottom of the problem.
My first visit with him confirmed my suspicions that there was nothing wrong with me. However, that’s when he laid the bombshell on me. “Jim, your problem is pretty simple. All your present struggles are related to the same root: you don’t know how to rest.” Immediately, in my heart, I bore witness to the truth of that statement. In all my years of ministry I had never failed to take my weekly day off and I did my best to arrange a mid-afternoon nap on Sundays. Still, this assessment of my well-being went way beyond days off and naps taken. This was a fundamental failure on my part to understand and honor the Sabbath principle.
At that time of my life I was deeply entrenched in a “works” mentality. My sense of worth and value were directly tied to how well I performed. I was driven to achieve all that I could in an effort to be acceptable to myself and others. While I truly loved and enjoyed my family and the church, inwardly, I could never allow myself the luxury of relaxing. There was always more to do and more to be accomplished on a daily basis so that I could continue to feel good about myself.
The remedy for me came in the form of grace. Grace has radically impacted my life in numerous ways but none so much as in my ability to rest in the finished work of Christ. Grace has opened my eyes to the reality that God’s blessings and favor come to us freely without being earned. Earned blessings are rewards. Grace bestows blessings on the undeserving. After a lifetime of trying to prove myself worthy to be blessed, I can see clearly now that no one is worthy to receive God’s best. We get blessed not because we are good but because He is good!
The rest I have come to embrace is not about making time to lay down and get a good night’s sleep. While that is important for good overall health, the rest Jesus came to give us is an inner quietness and confidence. It is an awareness that the Son of God did all the “work” necessary on the cross. He defeated the enemy and opened the windows of heaven for us. My only work is to work to enter into the rest He has provided for me where I can freely receive all the blessings of God.
I want to invite you to join me in the place of rest. Jesus did everything for us at the cross. There is nothing more for us to do. Please don’t wait for your life to become unraveled like I did before you accept His matchless grace that brings heavenly blessings and favor to your life without doing a single thing to earn it. Have a great REST of your week!