“In returning and rest, you will be saved. In quietness and trust you will find strength.”1
“Be still, be calm, see, and understand that I am the True God.”2
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders -it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”3
“The Eternal … provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water.
He soothes my fears.”4
“…I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal,
“plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope – never forget that.”5
From this smattering of verses, a theme emerges: soft, quiet, gentle, reassuring, refreshing… It reveals the consistent, faithful, loving heart of God the Father for His children. It evokes images of R&R, vacation, down time, security, and the expressions ‘living the life of Riley,’ and ‘the world is my oyster.’ So, if this is the fellowship we enjoy with God in our in-Christ life, why does there seem to be endless burrs under our saddles and jarring potholes and winding detours and dismaying circumstances and irregular people?
My take: The life God has divinely designed and meticulously furnished wipes away troubles and sorrows and tears and weeping – for all eternity. It holds such utter and complete satisfaction that one would never want for anything but to stay permanently within its abundant, loving care. Now, this guarantee of our fully-provided-for life presents an egregious barrier to God’s arch enemy, Satan, who wants only to wreak havoc on all this Kingdom splendor, preventing God from winning, and us, from the peace promised us. So, Satan takes advantage of the only foothold available to him: our now defunct (read: comatose, but rousable, temptable) old, sin-stained, wayward, self-seeking, life. I’m thinking the more we focus on God, on prayer, on worship, on fellowship with other believers, the more insidious Satan becomes, poking and prodding and wheedling and flaunting his smarm (his dark success is in sickly evidence, looking around at the church and the world today). If his distractions can manage to keep us off-kilter, re-awakening our desires for self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction and self-promotion and self-seeking, he is gleeful in getting us to take this first step away from our inheritance. Much like a spider luring its prey into its web, as soon as we ‘bite,’ we are awash in shame and condemnation. And, like the spider’s victim, the more we struggle against the cords around us, the more tightly we are gripped and entrapped. Hopelessness (one of Satan’s favorite destroyers of Jesus’ friends) soon obliterates the light of day.
Now, before we fall headlong into a pit of despair, let me remind us that that’s where we were when Jesus came: “… think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display – the Anointed One died for us. As a result, the blood of Jesus has made us right with God now, and certainly we will be rescued by Him from God’s wrath in the future.”6 Since our sin-weakened flesh remains vulnerable to assault, “Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his schemes… this fight is against … demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world… This is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground.”7 You know what? We can all do this – together as family! PD
1Isa. 30:15, 2Ps. 46:10, 3Matt. 11:28-30, 4Ps. 23:1,2, 5Jer. 29:11, 6Rom. 5:8, 7Eph. 6:11-13 (VOICE)