Rest and relaxation. It sounds like a beach vacation, doesn't it? A get away, removed from the chaos and demands of life, separated from the normal routine so that the joy of calm and peace can be enjoyed. Just close your eyes and you can feel the sand beneath your toes and the sun on your face. Not a care in the world. Nothing on the day's agenda. Just pure and simple R&R.
Once you open your eyes it is back to reality and chances are you aren't on a beach. Maybe you are in your kitchen, looking out the window at a world covered in white and trapped in subzero temperatures. So much for R&R, right?
Not so fast. Rest doesn't require a beach vacation or secluded weekend in the mountains. Rest requires God. In God alone we find rest no matter where we lay our head at night, what the temperature is outside or what is on the day's agenda. God provides rest in the midst of every and all circumstances.
Finding our rest in God doesn't always come easily. It is our tendency to save rest for particular times in life. Most days are spent in the routine of work, taking care of the home and running errands. Rest is reserved for the hour on the couch before bed and then, of course, those blessed eight hours of sleep.
God's rest is bigger than taking a load off the feet or putting our heads down on our pillows at night. The rest God provides can be found while doing the most grueling of labor or enduring the longest of traffic jams. True rest is found in walking steadily with God. Jeremiah 6:16 says, "Thus says the LORD: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'…"
Laying down and resting the body certainly has its benefits but the ultimate rest is that which we have in our souls when we are obediently following the way of the Lord. Walking with Him, following His commands and living in accordance with His word, will lead us on a path that is bathed in rest. Even in the midst of drudgery or challenges, He can still pour out His rest if we are living within His will.
In Jeremiah 6 the people respond to the command of God by refusing to "walk in it." They plainly deny following God and the result produces terrible unrest. God brought about disaster and trouble upon those people. Apart from God they found no rest. In their denial to follow God they chose to make their own decisions and forge their own path but that path led to destruction. There was no life and no rest in going their own way.
Today we have the same question posed to us and the same decision to make in how we will respond. The Lord has for us a path for our lives that will provide us with rest along the journey. We can choose to follow the Lord and walk on that path. The alternative is to go our own way and deny God sovereignty over our lives, choosing instead to live in disobedience and rebellion. There is no rest on that path.
Thankfully, no matter how many times we have denied God's path of rest in the past, today we can make a different choice. We can tell God "yes", even if our answer yesterday was a "no." He is forgiving and loving. When we repent and humbly bow at His feet we can enter into His rest by entering onto His path for our lives. By walking forward in obedience we will find the unshakable rest we so crave. We won't need to be on a beach to experience the benefits and beauty of rest. God will shower us in His rest as we follow where He leads.