Thursday, February 3, 2011

Holy Rest

I think God has been trying to get my attention about this rest thing.

Of the Ten Commandments, I think I break 1 and 4 the most. Perhaps it is precisely because I do not take the time to rest that I forget to remember the LORD and keep Him at the center of my life. It's so much easier for me to stay in charge of my life when I don't slow down for anything.

Often it is a bout of sickness that slows me down and forces me to rest. This time, God in His sovereign grace, sent an ice storm.

A crazy ice storm has hit North Texas, and schools have been closed four days this week. Facebook tells me many of my friends are bored and stir crazy, but I'm not. This week has been a much needed time to catch up on life, on just being instead of constantly doing.

One of the issues I've been grappling with recently is this idea of rest, ceasing work, giving up everything. It's so foreign to me as an American - not doing anything so that God can do everything.

And then tonight, I was listening to Phil Vischer's talk at the Children's Pastors Conference last month. He is one of my heroes, for many reasons. Part of what he said resonated with me deeply.

I was reading Paul’s letter to Galatians – “but the fruit of the Spirit it is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”

And for the first time it appeared to me what Paul meant. I mean, I was familiar with the fruit of the Spirit, but I had always kind of looked at it as an obligation, a duty, something else I had to do while I was saving the world. If you’re a Christian, you have to act loving, you have to act joyful, you have to be kind and patient and self-controlled. I looked at it sort of like homework – oh great, something else I have to do.

But now I saw what Paul really meant. If you’re filled with the Spirit, these attributes will flow out of you whether you want them to or not. For an apple tree, producing apples is not an obligation – it can’t be helped. No apple tree accidentally produces grapes and then says “Oh darn it, I messed up again.” An apple tree produces apples for the simple reason that it is an apple tree. And the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer for the simple reason that He is the Holy Spirit. If someone is filled with the Spirit, these attributes will fall out of him naturally and effortlessly. It can’t be avoided.

At last week's service, something struck me. There is this great line in the first verse of "In Christ Alone."
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
It struck me that the two are related. My fears are stilled when I cease striving, and surrender everything I am to Jesus. It is by surrendering and trusting Him that I "work out my salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in me to will and to act according to His good purpose."

And so I hear His voice: Stop kicking against the goads. Trust Me. Let go.

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