Rest is at a premium around our place these days. In addition to the bustle of the regular summer stuff, I’ve been doing some extra services for a local camp and then weddings and this week started Vacation Bible School. Not much rest in there.
Maybe that’s why I was drawn to pick up and read Richard Baxter’s classic The Saint’s Everlasting Rest. Just the word in the title made it appealing. But as soon as I started, I was reminded that “rest” never comes from a lack of activity.
Now, let me be sure and point out that the kind of “resting” in God that Baxter is talking about is not like the “rest” of taking a nap. He’s talking about soul satisfying rest in God, ultimately our final resting in Him in death and eternal life. But again, it somewhat took me aback to be reminded that this resting is hard work.
Let me just give you the line, written right up front in Baxter’s work, that got my attention. He writes: May the Living God, who is the portion and rest of his saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly that loving him, and delight in him, may be the work of our lives.
Resting in God involves a lot of hard work. God works in us to produce spiritual minds out of carnal ones, heavenly hearts out of earthly ones, and then we work at loving and delighting in Him. This is the work of our lives. A lot of work going into this rest.
Of course, this is nothing foreign to us. When we stop and think about it, our leisure is something most folks work very hard at. People work long hours, trying to build up bank accounts so that they can then afford vacations and weekend getaways and bigger and better entertainment systems and more comfortable home furnishings; all for our leisure. We work hard at resting.
Why should we do any less for true rest; lasting rest; eternal rest? Hear me clearly. I’m not in any way suggesting that we work to earn our salvation. We know that is all a work of God. And yet, as Baxter says, as the recipients of His grace, pursuing Him, loving Him, and delighting in Him ought to be “the work of our lives.”
The Puritans often spoke of “going hard after God.” Seems strange to think of that pursuit when coming from a people who so fully understood God’s pursuit of us. And yet, if we are truly to find our rest in Him, we must work hard and delighting in and loving Him.
To be quite honest, I think I still need a nap. I’m pretty worn out these days. But in the end, I know if I’m to have any true rest, it’s something I will have to work at, even as God works in and through me for His good pleasure. I pray that I will work at least as hard, even harder, at resting in Him as I do trying to find time for that nap. What are you working for, and where is your rest?