September is the month when things get really busy for many people. Vacation time is over, children go back to school and their parents struggle to manage the over-crowded family calendar. University and college students head to class, some for the first time, while others settle back in at jobs with six weeks until the next long weekend. All this busy-ness can leave one worn-out, frazzled and aimless, and we often accomplish little of lasting value in the process. We are like plants that have been cut-off from their roots, and eventually our spirits will whither and die.
The tragedy of a life mired in busy-ness is that it is the exact opposite of the abundant life that Jesus came to give to us (see John 10:10b). The gift of life with Jesus is meant to be rich, full, fruitful, and life-giving. Life with Jesus is meant to fit in with the daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms of our life in this world. Wherever we go, whatever we do, we are in sync with Jesus and what He calls and empowers us to do, so we have inner peace, regardless of the turmoil that may be going on around us. What a delight it would be if we could actually live like that!
We can! And the way that Jesus breaks our addiction to busy-ness and re-orientates our life so that we are rooted in Him is by inviting us into His Sabbath-rest.
When some of us hear the term “Sabbath-rest,” we are reminded of a legalistic understanding of not doing any work on Sunday. Others might think it refers to heavenly rest with Jesus when our life on this earth comes to an end. But I think that God meant something else when He inspired the writer of the book of Hebrews to pen these words: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11)
The writer is not talking about a future Sabbath-rest because earlier in the same chapter they wrote, “Now we who have believed enter that rest…” (v. 3a). So the Sabbath-rest that Jesus offers us is a present reality, and entering it is a matter of faith, not abstinence from work.
If we are truly honest with ourselves, and we take the time to think about it, we will see that there is something underneath all of our busy-ness that it is driving us to try to live at a frenetic pace. That driver will be different for different people. For some of us, it will be a desire for security, so we work hard to make more money so we can be secure. Others of us keep busy to give ourselves a sense of significance to cover over our feelings of inadequacy. And some of us are striving valiantly so that we can gain respect, admiration or love from others.
Jesus is asking us to invite Him into our deepest parts and let His love heal our hungry hearts. As we trust in Jesus’ love, He will help us to see that He is our security and through Him, in God’s eyes, we are beautiful, beloved, accepted and adored. Then, and only then, will we rest from our striving to try to make ourselves look good in the eyes of God or others. We don’t need to do that anymore because we are rooted in Jesus. Freed from the tyranny of saving ourselves, we rest in Jesus’ love, listening for His voice, following the direction He gives with the energy He provides through the spirit-to-Spirit connection that we have with Him.
In my cover article for the July-August edition of the newsletter, I said that I thought that WGLC needed a Sabbath-rest. I think that we are still in that time of resting and re-connecting with Jesus. It is a temporary season and, when the time is right, Jesus will guide us into a season of greater activity. But it will be activity that will be led and empowered by Him and He will bring forth Kingdom fruit as we remain rooted in Him.
[Jesus said,] “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Peace and joy in Jesus,