and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
(Mt. 11:28, NKJV)
If you are a born-again, child of God then you have done this at least once in your life. The moment you said, “God, I cannot save myself. I trust in the finished work of Christ to save me, Jesus be My Savior and Lord,” that is when you stopped trying to earn your salvation through works. You entered into rest. You “retired” from being your own savior. And most people have learned that it is settled from that moment on. You would not dream of going back to the days of trying to work for your salvation. You’re saved and you know it.
That is how you begin the Christian life. But there is more to the Christian life than just getting saved. That is the first step into a larger world. Jesus is continually calling out to you, saying, “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.” That is a progressive thing. It is a daily thing. Every day we come to Jesus, everyday we hand over something else, every day we learn to rest in Him, and trust in His life.
What does it look like? Well, so many Christians struggle with sin. They struggle with their feelings, their emotions, their memories. They worry, they fret. They are in bondage to fear. They are in bondage to bad habits. They are in bondage to their past hurts. They experience many defeats and very few victories.
Can we not trust Jesus to give us rest from these things as well? If we can trust Him and believe Him for salvation, can we not trust Him and believe Him for victory? That is what He means when He says, “Come to Me, and I will give you rest.” This rest that we enter into is intended for every area, not just salvation. How very pitiful if we can only rest in salvation but we have no peace, no rest, no freedom from the constant stresses and disappointments and fears of this present time.
The principle of the Sabbath rest is applicable to every area of your life, not just salvation. Are you ever troubled with anxious thoughts? Of course, from time to time we all worry about something. But when we have entered into His rest we no longer worry about it. Outside of Him there is plenty to worry about; but when we come to Him, and stay in Him, He gives us rest, and it is impossible to rest and worry at the same time. A worried person cannot sleep, and certainly cannot rest. A person who is resting in the Lord does not worry.
Mark 3:14 is a special Scripture for me, and it illustrates this very important point. It says that Jesus called twelve disciples, that they should BE with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach. We are anxious to go out, to be used, to go to work; but Jesus is more interested in the relationship, in being with Him, in learning to rest in Him. Remember the Sabbath day, get that principle deep down in your spirit, before you launch out into the doing.
Of course I come into contact with a great number of people who are coming out of the religious system, and they are usually full of a lot of anxiety and excitement. When they ask me for advice, I counsel them to take a year off and “do nothing” for awhile. What I mean is, religion has kept you doing, doing, doing for God. There needs to be a season of rest. You need to experience a Sabbath day and just “be” with Jesus in terms of spiritual activity. Oh yes, that sounds so nice, but I have seldom met anyone who could do it. They come out of church, and before you know it they start a home church, or they go looking for fellowship with others, or they get restless and end up going back to church where things are more familiar. The idea of just being with Jesus and resting for awhile is completely foreign to their understanding.
Regardless of where you are in your journey – a new Christian, someone who is just coming out of religion, or someone who has been in the wilderness for a long time now – you cannot get away from this principle of the Sabbath day. It is about relationship. Being with Jesus. Coming to Him and resting in Him.
Are you content to just be with Jesus? Is Jesus enough? When Jesus is enough then you are resting. We you feel something more is needed, and you start looking outside of Him, then you become rest-LESS.
What if we took a position with the Lord that says, “I am content to just be with You. If you see I am lacking something, I trust you to bring it. But I am not seeking anything outside of You. That includes fellowship with others, ministry, spiritual experiences, or anything else. You are enough for Me.” God can do something with that. Now you are getting aligned to the Sabbath principle. I’m not seeking, or striving, or trying to make anything happen. I am content, I am resting in the Lord. And that is the life of faith, the life of trust, the life of rest.