What does it mean to enter into rest?
I’ve been looking at the epistle to the Hebrews.
‘Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.’ Heb 4:11
What rest and what example of unbelief?
Let’s look first at the example.
It is the unbelief of the Israelites who did not enter the promised land because of their unbelief.
‘So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.’ Heb 3:19
This passage in Hebrews is speaking to those that are saved, as we read in 3:1
‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,….’
The Israelites had been saved, brought out of the bondage of the Egyptians just as we are brought out of the bondage of sin when we come to know Christ as our Saviour.
So we see that we can be saved but not at rest. Again, why?…..Because of unbelief.
So what is this rest that’s spoken of?
I believe that it is the rest and peace that sinners have when they, through the Holy Spirit are able to fully lean upon and trust in Christ FOR everything, IN everything.
The Israelites came out of bondage to that place of rest but they didn’t enter, because of their unbelief.
Yes, we will have wilderness experiences but do we come up out of them leaning upon our Beloved Jesus or does unbelief hold us wandering there? Does unbelief keep us from fighting to enter into that rest?
I wandered in a desolate barren place when I was younger for several years, (read more here) just as the children of Israel did. Why?
I had been in a beautiful place after the Lord blessed me with the forgiveness of my sins, my Bible was full of treasure every time I opened it but life was busy and the world crept in. I didn’t make much time (if any on many days), for God.
I was no longer fully resting in and trusting in the Holy Spirit to help me. I was going on in my own strength and my soul became barren and I wandered in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty looking to be filled but finding nothing.
I was TRYING to do right but I now read my Bible because it was what I was supposed to do as were the services I attended..
I had been shown that my sins were forgiven but my life wasn’t consecrated to God, I wasn’t leaning on Him, I was going on in my own strength. Not out of rebellion, I just wasn’t leaning and trusting, I drifted. I wasn’t looking to God to keep me. ‘I’ was trying (and failing) to do what was right.
The world had clouded my eyes so that I no longer found delight in God’s Word. When I found no refreshing there I got despondent and gave up trying. I appeared to be doing the right things to many but if I did right it was in a wrong way. This also caused me to become cold and barren spiritually, to wander in the wilderness.
The only times during that season when I felt close to the Lord, when I had a little peace and rest in my soul, were the times I looked to the Lord for direction providentially and obeyed but even then, spiritually, I still wasn’t trusting completely in God, I wasn’t leaning on the Lord to help me to do what was right, I was trying to do it in my own strength and of course constantly failing.
And friends, still the ‘Me’ in me thinks she can do it, the ‘Me’ in me TRIES to do what is right, but I have learnt (and I am still learning because the Me in me will keep struggling for control until this life is over), that the ONLY way we can experience true joy and peace and rest is IN Christ, as God enables us to crucify self and live, THROUGH CHRIST, IN CHRIST, FOR CHRIST.
There was another thing that held me in the wilderness too….
There were several times throughout those wilderness years that I felt a longing to be closer to the Lord but I was waiting for the Holy Spirit to draw me back and I just kept waiting for that to happen. I would ask God to bring me closer and wait another year or more.
Where I got muddled here was that I didn’t recognize my longing and desire as the drawing of the Holy Spirit. He was already drawing me after Him but I wasn’t responding.
It took chronic illness and the removal of all my physical strength to make me flee to God and lean totally on Him physically. I needed the Lord to give me the strength to be able to get through the next hour, and at times even the next breath felt too much effort to take alone.
The thing is, we don’t take a single breath without God giving it to us but although I knew this in my head, I had to realise it literally and in my heart for that truth to really sink in.
As I had fled to God, gone to Him in my weakness and was leaning so completely on the Lord physically, these words, truth I also knew in my head, came to me in a totally new way….’draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to thee..
My eyes were now opened to see that the Spirit WAS already drawing me, this was what my desires and longings were but I wasn’t responding.
I had been shown my need physically, how I couldn’t get through the day alone. Now I could see clearly that I had the same need spiritually. Those words showed me that the Holy Spirit was already drawing me and just as I had drawn near to God in my physical need, so I needed to also draw near spiritually, to lean ONLY on the Lord for the strength I needed to get through the next hour spiritually, in a way that would glorify Him. to stop TRYING to manage in my own strength and start LEANING.
I had been trying to live right in my own strength, I looked at MY failures and gave up. I didn’t trust and lean only upon the Lord.
Now I knew in my heart, not just my head, not only that I could not do anything physically in my own strength but also that I could do nothing spiritually in my own strength.
This brought about in my life, once again, an earnest seeking and much fervent prayer.
I once again began really searching my Bible, asking the Lord to open my eyes to see those wonderful truths hidden there. My prayer became for the Lord to make His desires my desires and soon, all I now desired was ‘No more ME, just all Christ IN me.’. The things of the world lost all their charm and all I wanted was more Jesus.
The children of Israel saw all the goodness to be had in the promised land when they saw the fruit that two of the spies brought back but ten of the spies also brought back an evil report of the land and the giants that lived there.
This is where they fell, instead of trusting in what God had promised they doubted, they looked at the giants and compared them to their own size and strength and not God’s strength and power… ‘And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.’
I knew God has promised to help us, to give us all we need to live our life consecrated for Him, to live our lives for His glory but I fell into the trap of knowing this in my head but not walking as though I knew it. I was TRYING in my own strength, not RELYING on the Lord’s strength and power in me.
Although I had experienced a taste of the rest that is to be found in Christ I didn’t realise that I had to lean into His love, ways and strength to remain in that rest.
If we are not finding joy and rest in the Lord, WHY?
Is it because we are not entering into the rest that is to be found in trusting and leaning only upon Christ?
Instead are we seeing all the problems, all the what ifs? Are we looking at the situation with our own wisdom and strength and not with faith in the wisdom and power of our God and what He had promised?
Are we STRIVING to do what WE think is right instead of RELYING on the Holy Spirit to fight for us, to work in us, to fill us so full of the love of Christ, to make His desire become our desires?
The joy and peace and rest in Christ comes, when we become totally dependant upon the Lord, with our whole selves being consecrated to His will.
There’s no trying needed there because when there is no ‘Me’, when we become dead to self, we are….
‘crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’
It is no longer of us, instead, any good in us is Christ in us, it is the fruit of the Spirit.
So friends, we see that this is where true joy and rest can only be found here below. As we become nothing and CHRIST becomes ALL and IN ALL.
Let’s flee to the only One who can help us friends and pray for “No more ‘Me’, just all and only ‘Christ IN Me’. ”
Asking God to give us the faith and help we must have to always and only lean upon and trust in Him. To help us to live a life consecrated to Him because this is the only way we can enter into that rest and have true joy and peace in this life.