"RIP" Is Not When We Should Hope to Find It (Article 18-5)
For many of us, it seems like we’re always “running on “empty.” There seems to be no end to the demands that life places on us. We’re constantly on the move trying to meet life’s demands whether it be for our children, workplace demands, personal expectations, and those expectations that are put on us by others. With this, many of us stay in a constant state of restlessness. Further contributing to our restlessness are our worries – financial, health, and work. The personal guilt we may carry within can also contribute to our restlessness. Is there any reprieve from our restlessness? Is there any hope that we can have any rest and peace in our lives? For what we’re all really after in life happiness – that being, to exist in a state of contentment, thus in a restful and peaceful state of existence. Without exception, we all desire to be happy. What differentiates us are the choices we make and the actions we take to be happy.
Our Peace Is Important to God
Our state of restlessness is a very important matter to God. In fact, there are several hundred references on the word “rest” in scripture. Why? Because restlessness strains our soul: The very heart of our eternal essence. One particularly important reference regarding restlessness is In Matthew 11:28-30. In these verses, Christ states to us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. He then instructs 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”. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Let’s look at these verses a little more closely to better understand God’s instruction to us regarding rest.
Come To Him
The very first thing that Christ tells us relative to rest is “Come to Him”. This is not just a call to come to Him, but rather an invitation for all that need Him to come to Him and with it, an unconditional promise of “welcome”. See Christ knows our restless condition that being what keeps us in a state of restlessness and with it, the unnecessary pain it brings to our souls. In response, He summons the "weary" and "burdened" to come to Him and to take haven within Him – so their souls may be protected from their troubles. See, as a human, we not only work, but we bear work, which means to toil just as “beasts of burden” do such as an ox, mule, or donkey does. Now, I’m not saying we are beasts of burden; however, we may act like them. Like beasts of burden, we have a yoke around our necks to carry the heavy loads of our lives, or even the burdens of others. Christ knows our burdens and the strain it puts on our souls. This is why Christ instructs us to “Take His yoke upon us”. I find it interesting that even Christ wears a yoke; however, because He is one with the Father, His yoke is easy to wear and His load is very light. How can this be? Because aside from Christ being one with our all-powerful, present, loving and knowing Father, Christ “oneness” with God places Him in an eternal state of peace and rest. At this very moment, He sits (not stands or runs) at the right-hand of the father, thus "rests" next to our Father. By abiding in Christ, we too can “sit” (rest) next to our loving and heavenly Father. But we must remember that in order to have the same rest as our Lord and Savior, we must be one with Christ.
He's Gentle with a Humble Heart
Note that Christ describes Himself as “gentle”. See, we not only can find rest in Christ, but also experience His loving tenderness and kindness toward us, while receiving the fruits of His Spirit (Holy Spirit). Finally, His “Humble Heart” He refers to is the source of His peace, rest, tenderness and kindness. His Humble Hearts talks to His acknowledgement of who He is in relation to the Father, and His need for the Father for all things. In sum, the verses in Matthew 11 reveals that by abiding in Christ we can finally experience the rest, peace, fruits of the Spirit, and oneness with the Father we seek, or are yet to realize we must seek.
Peace and Rest Can Only Be Found in One Place
Relative to finding peace and rest, we should take note to Exodus 33:14. In this verse God states, when speaking to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” This is one of many verses that points out that it is impossible to ever have rest without God. This is why our first endeavor requires that we be at peace with God. His presence in our lives is the one and only condition to have peace and rest in our lives. There is no other way to obtain it. Apart from God, our souls will always be in a state of restlessness. See, peace and rest exist in only one place. Our Creator. Although God created us in His image and according to His likeness, He did not give us our own self-source or supply of “rest potion”, and with it, the ability to rest. For if He did, we would have no need for Him. This runs contrary to the purpose of being created. Therefore, He tells us that His “Presence” in our lives is the only way we can have rest, He and only He is the source of rest. The consequence of not turning to God for our peace is to be like a turning wheel in the dirt. To have no rest, means to have no peace. To have no peace, is to have no rest. It’s a self-perpetuating wheel that continuously churns in the dirt. The wheel spins long and hard and by doing so, digs a hole: A hole from which it can never emerge. Eventually, the wheel slows down, wears out and, comes to a stand-still, for the motor that drives it wears out or at the very least, the turning wheel breaks. The symbolism here is that as we continually attempt to find rest by our own accord, we wear out and quit trying to find it. It is at this point we “come to the end of ourselves.”
With Bad News Comes Good News
Although the bad news is that many of us have to come to the end of ourselves (and its preceding adverse events) to hopefully find peace, the good news is that it is at the point of coming to the end of ourselves that we may (if we choose to do so) recognized our need for God; submit to His will; and begin the journey to be one with Him. By doing so, we tap into the one and only source of peace and rest we've been seeking - our Father in Heaven. It is for this reason, as well as many others, that Christ tells us to abide in Him for all things. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15). It is also why God tells us Himself, "This is my beloved Son whom I am well pleased. Listen to (or Hear) Him! (Mark 17:5). The bottom-line here is that we cannot find peace and rest without first being one with our Lord and Savior, who is one with our Holy Father in Heaven.
Protecting and Promoting Peace
You have to protect your peace, and by doing so, find rest; however, remember that the main source protection is God. Protecting your peace means to avoid those things that disturb your own peace, for there are no limits to the number of ways Satan will rob you of it. For example, don’t allow what you think people think of you rob you of your peace – “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that. (Proverbs 29:25)”. We must also be mindful of the things we expose ourselves to that are likely to disturb our peace, i.e. social-media, reality shows, gossipers who somehow find solace in making or stirring up trouble.
Peacemaking Is Not A Suggestion, But a Command
Always remember that Christ calls us to be “peacemaker” for if we are, we will be called “the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Implied in this verse is that we must also be a “peacekeeper”. We should be careful not to disturb the peace of others, nor stir up trouble by way of gossip or hurtful remarks and actions. See, peacemakers (and peacekeepers) truly understand the meaning and importance of peace. Peacemakers embrace God’s provision of peace, so we may be in harmony with one another, thus the promoting of God’s Kingdom. Our call is to reconcile with those who we may not like or don’t like us; end our hatred, be united with those we may be divided, and to, by our own example, demonstrate spiritual love for one another. Finally, we must learn when to retreat and rejuvenate our souls. Jesus did this. Despite all the demands placed on Him by His disciples, calls for miracles, persecution, rejection and criticism, He left the crowds and went away to rest by way of prayer. Even Jesus knew He needed to get away and be quiet so He could be refreshed and restored. His source of peace was by way of the Father. This is why continuously and relentlessly prayed. The other important thing to note is that Jesus didn't let other people run His life, and neither should you.
Don't Wait For People to Hope You RIP
Recognize that each day is a new day and make the decision today to live in rest. If Jesus needed to protect His peace, recognize that you must protect yours as well. Don't wait for people to express their hope that you find "Rest in Peace" when you die. Find and claim it now, then others won't have to be concerned with this matter when you depart. Christ wants us to have it now just as He has at the right hand of the Father. Abide in Him and He in Us...always, always, always!