Striving Versus Rest by John Meyer

Striving Versus Rest by John Meyer August 24, 2011

Sitting on the side of my bed trying to remember where I left my flip flops so I could travel down the stairs to find the bathroom in the dark, was such a difficult moment for me one early summer morning. I couldn’t tell you exactly why, except for the fact my season of transition weighed heavily on what I’ve been letting go of. For too long I have lived a life where I had no problem trying to make something happen. Whenever a need or a want would arise, there I was putting the cart before the horse, before the wheels where even attached to bare the weight of the load. I mean, could you really blame me? After all, I was just doing what everyone else was doing in this driven world of go-getting robotry. Jumping out of bed before there was even a chance for the birds to begin their morning song and long before the dew could even settle on the lawn I neglected to mow again, I had begun the grueling task of trying to pave my own way throughout my day. How many times did I throw my legs over the edge of the bed and begin to cry out to God, “No way! Not today! I’m gonna surrender and receive!”

A-personalities and driven divas with no real agenda except the agenda called “self” is all I see around me. It’s no wonder I can’t still my mind long enough to even enjoy a “normal” breakfast or hot cup of Joe. Before I can get to the bathroom the iphone is already dinging with another email. It seems the chime never stops long enough to ask if I even wanted what it had to offer. No, all the techno-agenda knows is what it has been programmed to do. When am I going to just shut it all off long enough to hear that familiar still small voice I so long to hear again? I ask myself as I hurry through my maintenance prayers for the day.

It’s sort of sick how we think we can run forever on the fumes of a lifeless prayer. I didn’t start out that way, it just seems as life goes on and the demands become more and more grossly pronounced, do we find ourselves setting the cruise control in our prayer lives and relational interaction with The Lord. Striving our way through the day seems to leave the variety and freshness of life far behind as we embrace the stagnancy and sweat of the “strive”. If it wasn’t for a lifestyle of striving, I guess there wouldn’t be much activity in this world, except for those few who have truly embraced the “rest” of the story. There is a gospel, one that is whole and filled with the serenity of divine rest. I guess it’s just THE gospel that has seemed to elude much of the church these days.

You see, there is a “rest” in the greatest story ever told and that rest is the direct opposite of man made efforts and steel driven personalities. It’s the rest that surfaced because of a blunt force trauma given directly to the bowels of evil and its inhabitants. It’s the very place where believers everywhere have been positioned and don’t even realize it. Much of it has to do with the intoxication of a soul that thrives on performance, and the church has become a direct reflection of the forceful life all around them. Rest? What’s that? Many of them shout. You mean when I die right…that kind of rest? Hardly! We just can’t seem to get past all of the “things” we must do in order to please a God who needs pleasing, right? Or is it the fact we just can’t seem to get enough of the attention our identity deprived souls crave and desire? Yeah well, whatever the case, I am guilty, guilty of it all.

Have you ever thought to yourself it just doesn’t matter anymore? You know, the “I’m so sick of myself and the way I have been living, it just doesn’t matter any longer what I look like when it comes to getting free stuff?”. These days, whatever takes the shape or even smells like freedom, divine freedom that is, I am all over it! It seems the more I yield to surrender and receiving, the more I understand just how foreign striving is to The Kingdom of God. It’s so simple really and we miss the simplicity of what I call “relational rest”. Let’s take a peek and perhaps we will be able to smell the refreshing, wonderful aroma of this place called rest.

“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” Eph. 2:1-6 Message

Not only did Christ kick the striving out of our souls by His finished work on the cross, but He picked us up out of our own mess and set us down next to Him in the highest heaven, far above all that thrives on striving. My question is, if we are now seated NEXT to Him, then why do we live as one who is sprinting through life with self effort as our coach? Picture someone running as fast as they can around His throne of grace in a panic. Imagine Jesus sitting there watching and listening to the one who doesn’t stop long enough to realize the seat next to His Majesty is empty…your seat, my seat. The seat of rest he so graciously provided by paying it all on the cross. Hebrews 4:10 says the only “striving” if you want to call it that, is to diligently enter in to that rest. In other words, if you are going to make anything a worthwhile goal in this life, make it the goal of receiving his rest and entering the place where everything starts to come together and begins to make sense.

Do I still swing my legs over the bed in the morning and check the iphone before I hit the bathroom? Sometimes, but I now realize all of those “dings” I hear are not nearly as interesting and important as sensing His rest when I choose to leave the “I” out of my phone. Whenever I do, that is when I find the grace and favour needed for restful advancement.

Learning to rest while advancing,

Johnny …

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