Russell and Duenes

I Need Rest

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restThe single mother of three who is working two jobs with no family in town.

The professional athlete who is forever seeking the approval of his father, but never seems to be good enough, so he must constantly prove himself.

The teenage girl who is beautiful and smart and must resist the advances of the boys around her and the soul-searing gossip of the other girls in the school.

The corporate execute who has reached the pinnacle of his career, living the fast life in Manhattan, but who is also on his third marriage and has a son and a daughter whom he hardly knows.

The office worker who is watching her child get more and more into drugs, while married to a husband who doesn’t want to hear about it, who is trying to hold it together in the midst of her constant aching loneliness and anxiety.

The pastor who faithfully preaches and counsels and cares for God’s people, but who wonders why he never seems to get ahead, and why the problems and issues in his church seem so intractable, and who is crippled by the critical spirit of just a few in his congregation.

The mother who is at home day-after-day, making meals, doing laundry, wiping poopy butts, folding clothes, picking up nick-nacks all over the house which get thrown down on the floor again several minutes later, who is ready to collapse at the end of each day, but worries that she is failing as a parent.

The career woman who has passed up every opportunity for a husband and children in order to advance her career, putting in 60 and 70 hour weeks for a decade now, and has finally reached VP in the company, but who knows that she is continually under pressure to perform, to keep “the edge” that has gotten her so far, but who wonders where it’s all leading.

Rest . . . These and countless others need rest. I don’t mean the kind of rest we get from sleeping or just relaxing by a pool or on a beach somewhere (though that might help). I mean rest in our souls. Just pause and consider how many people are walking around their life each day with no rest in their souls, and no way to find it. The burden they carry. They may turn to noise or busyness or harder work or longer hours of “hanging out for a few drinks” to get it, but they are not really getting rest. For as Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee, O Lord.” And so their lives are restless. We are a nation and people that is restless. We own more than anyone else on the entire planet, in the history of the planet, and yet we are not at rest.

Believe me, I know the feeling. The feeling of accomplishment and ambition, but without that rest of soul that makes any circumstance endurable. My thoughts have been turning to this idea of “rest” lately, and I know God has a lot to say about it, and it just seems quite precious to me right now, even though I seem to know very little of rest, even when I’m resting.

“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” Clearly God did not need a recharge, and he was not somehow worn out from all of His creative activity. God never slumbers or sleeps. Yet he rested. He ceased. He stopped his activity. And God thought so much of this “rest” that he “blessed it and made it holy.”

Then God told His people to likewise rest, to “do no work” on the Sabbath day, under penalty of death. Death for not resting? The Israelites were to plow and harvest their fields for six years, but on the seventh year, they were to let the field lie fallow, to let it rest. When Moses wanted to see God’s glory, God showed him his back side, and he told Moses to lead the people, because “My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest.” The Israelites were to go in and take the land by force, and then, God would give them rest on all sides. Finally, God said that when the Israelites were thrust out of the land because of their rebellion, then the land would “rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate, it shall have rest.”

This desire to provide “rest” seems to be a thing with God, and I should like to know more about it, and experience more of it.



Written by Michael Duenes

May 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

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