Rest is best!
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
David talked about green pastures, still waters, and restoring our souls, which are all images of rest, Psalm 23:2-3:
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
The author of Hebrews talks about a rest for believers. All of Hebrews 4 is good, but I’ll just quote 9-11a:
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest…
How does this rest work? Philippians 4:6-7:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This rest, this peace, works through prayer and spending time in the presence of God. When I say ‘prayer’, I don’t mean a mechanical, rote prayer, necessarily, but a personal prayer. I have said before that the most holy prayer that I know of is the simplest: “Lord, help!” I believe that that kind of simple, honest prayer is God’s favorite kind.
Note that this peace, this rest, requires some action on our part in every case. Jesus says in Matthew 11 to come to Him for rest. In Psalm 23, we have to let the Lord make us lie down in green pastures, to teach us how to rest. In Hebrews, we’re told to be diligent in entering that rest. And in Philippians, we’re told to pray.
Practically speaking, here are a few things you can do to stay in rest and peace:
Spend time in the presence of God. If you’re not sure how, get a copy of The Practice of the Presence of God (it’s available everywhere for free or cheap) and read it slowly and prayerfully, asking God to reveal it to you. (I have a couple of posts on this book here and here.)
Pray. When an anxious thought comes up, give it over to God in simple prayer.
(If you’re on medication for anxiety, make sure you’re taking your medication.)
If you know how to pray in tongues, pray in tongues in addition to spoken prayer. Prayer in tongues builds up the inside man (1 Cor. 14:4) and, in my experience, often gives me peace where before there was none.
Be patient and know that you’re growing, even when it doesn’t look like it! This is something that has been on my heart a lot lately, being patient that God is teaching me and guiding me in his own time.
The next time you receive a bouquet of flowers or see a plate of fresh produce, take it at more than face value. Thank God for the meaning behind it. Reflect on the soil in which it grew, the seed that started it all, the sun and water that nourished it, and the Creator who designed it to begin with. Think of the hands God equipped to plant it and the time it took to grow. Apply it to your life and see just how God has grown you from a tiny seed to the flourishing person you are today. It is only by God’s grace. (Maddie Dumas, ‘God’s Green Earth’)
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)
Know that you’re being taught by the Holy Spirit, little by little. You’re not behind, you’re right on time.
“To whom will he teach knowledge,
and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk,
those taken from the breast?
For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little.” (Isa 28:9-10)
I hope these suggestions will help you reach more peace in your life. Along with Paul, I pray…
…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (Eph. 1:17-19)
May these words minister to your heart.