Rest & Renew with Christ –
The exhausting events of the last month have left me feeling tired. The New Year kicked in hard this week and even thoughÂ the scheduleÂ is back on trackÂ a rest and renew sounds like it should be in order. What comes to your mind when you think about or visualize the words, rest and renew? Perhaps it is de-stressing by lying on the warm beach under a blue sky listening to the waves roll in one after the other or maybeÂ rest and renew to youÂ is reading by a roaring fire in the fireplace of a mountain cabin while the snow banks up against the windows. Perhaps though it is the simple comfort that is found away from your busy life or collecting strength to make it through the day-to-day challenges you face. Whatever our idea of resting and renewingÂ is we can find the ultimate respiteÂ and peace with God by the trusting assurance of this week’s focus verse ”“ Matthew 11:28;
Then Jesus said, ”Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest”. (NLT)
Rest and Renew ”“ What it really means ”“
The word rest in this scripture evokesÂ different images for many of us. For some this imagery is over the top and luxurious while for others it is simply seeking a peaceful solitude. Â Before we commit to imagery however we should look firstÂ at the root Greek word that rest translates from to gain a deeper perspective of what Christ is telling us. The Greek word that translates into rest is anapausis which is really derived from the two Greek words of ana and pauo. Ana meaning to go up and back again while pauo is to cease, restrain, or hinder so together Strong’s Concordance suggests that this means to give rest, give intermission from labor, implying to refresh -Â all of this takes us to a clearer meaning of the word rest. When looking up synonyms for theÂ term rest one may findÂ words like comfort, respite, quietude, Â peaceful retreat, and my new favorite word ”“ sofalizing all however are bringing the idea of being refreshed after a break of labor whether physical, mental, or emotional.Â Refreshing comesÂ by resting and renewing with Christ as he frees us from our burdens of daily life by providing peace, love, and comfort. Now some of us are thinking that sounds great but idealistic as there are things thatÂ occur every day and that is the ”work” that is wearingÂ us down and creating the burden thatÂ we feel. Maybe it is the emotional care of an elderly parent, a disabled child, perhaps a demanding boss, or strained relationships with your family or co-workers that create this wearisome burden. It is also through the simple day-to-day things that pile upÂ like the dishes, mowing the lawn, getting the kids to soccer practice, or everyone dressed and ready for church, school, or workÂ on time. There are many daily activities that seem burdensome and create stress so how do we see and experience this rest and renew that Jesus offers?
Rest and Renew ”“ Following the Kingdom PathÂ to God
It all begins with a relationship with God through ChristÂ and some re-education on what is important. The relationship and re-education are both given as choice models that the Bible clearly directs us in and gives a good illustration through Jeremiah 6:16
This is what the Lord says: ”Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old godly way and walk in it. Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, “No, that’s not the road we want!” (NLT)
As we develop our relationship with God we begin to see that we need to reorder our thinking from this world’s importanceÂ to the kingdom’s importance. Once this takes place our life begins to take on purpose and meaning. Purpose and meaning not only moves us forward it helps us see what is truly significant. When weÂ categorize the significant or vital things that occur in our lives we must think of these things in kingdom importance. In other words not will this matter tomorrow but will it matter in eternity. This relieves us of the less important, the immediate, the things in our life which often are the most burdensome and usually fall under the category of this world and not the kingdom world. If weÂ want to rest and renew it is clear thatÂ to seek peace we must follow God into a full relationship forcing a reordering of our thought patterns which requires education, some learning. If we continue reading from our focus verse the next verse Matthew 11:29 tells us;
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”. (NIV)
The translated verb learn in this sentence comes from the Greek word manthano which means to be in the habit of, to learn, or increase one’s knowledge. Jesus offers us not only a partnership in learning from Him but a promise of an endless rest. If we refocus our thoughts on living our lives for the kingdom instead of for the neighbors down the street,Â we will see our true purpose and find meaning. If our thoughtsÂ focus on the end goal then the everyday problems of this world that we encounter do not seem as important anymore. TheseÂ problemsÂ do not disappear they areÂ justÂ placed into a different perspective.
We can compare our daily problems orÂ burdens that we experience onÂ God’s kingdom path, to an athletic runner who focuses on the final goal of crossing the finish line. The runner may stumble on the rocks along the road, their thirst may increase beyond their comprehension, and at times they feel so weary they are ready to quit but yet they refocus their thoughts on the end goal ”“ crossing the finish line. They know either from past experiences or faith through other runners that once they cross that line all the encounters along the wayÂ are no longer important and in fact they often are forgotten in the euphoria of the finish. If we can learn to refocus our thoughts away from the seemingly urgent and place them instead on the kingdom important things, the ultimate reward,Â God’s finish line,Â we will not only become stronger but will learn to find satisfaction in our present circumstances ”“ a contentment in what is and what is to come.
Rest and Renew ”“ Relearning Contentment
Satisfaction with little or much is a learned trait. Paul teaches us this through his personal experiences and tells us this in Philippians 4:11;
”Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.”(NLT)
When we learn to draw on Christ’s strength and power weÂ also canÂ become content in our circumstances and lives no matter what struggles we may face. A relationship with God through Christ becomes the necessary component in this as we continue to face problems, irritations, and even catastrophic events. If we are following Christ through faith and keeping our eye on the kingdom goal then even in the worst situations weÂ are better people for the God we serve leading not only to rest and renew but evenÂ greater rewards.
Rest and Renew with Faith in Christ
We have circled back around to the key word of the Christian follower ”“ faith. It is through faith we will find contentment, it is through faith that relief from anxietyÂ comes; it is through faith that our life will become in line with God’s plan and purposesÂ for our life. It is through faith we will find the ultimate reward of aÂ final rest and renewal. Building our faith from greater knowledge not only comes from the Bible and teachings of Christ but our personal experiences and the experiences of others first however weÂ must make the choice at the crossroads to follow God’s path to the kingdom. There is no substitute for that decision we can choose peace and rest or we can follow our own path which may or may not work out on this earth butÂ eternity promises that our way will not work there. We canÂ only find strength and purpose through God and then move forward with confidenceÂ in faith finding rest and renewal along the way as our burdensÂ lift on theÂ promises of Christ.
I pray everyone has a great burden free week but if you feel yourself getting anxious and overwhelmed by the immediate butÂ recognize it is notÂ kingdom important, stop and follow the instructions of Philippians 4:6;
Don’t worry about anything instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (NLT)
Let Christ relieve your burdens.
Love in Christ,
Post Script ”“Â Many people have a holiday next weekend but whether you do or do not be sureÂ to schedule some needed physical or emotional rest from the immediate so you can focus on the important even if that rest is just ”sofalizing” J