By: Susanna Kozlow
The Greek word for rest is "anapausis," meaning cessation and refreshment. Jesus' rest is not one of resting from work, but IN WORK. It isn’t rest from activity, but the harmonious work of the heart, will, and imagination. It’s giving all of one’s self to the One who fulfills, satisfies, and develops one's soul – our Heavenly Father.
In the last few weeks, I've come to this verse time and time again. Not only has Jesus brought me to it, but it has been sent to me by so many.
I kept going back to this asking Jesus to please help me understand. I really wanted the rest. I often felt heavy. When I felt that heaviness, I just wanted to be lighter. So I prayed for it. My prayer would consist of what I needed to lay at His feet and finding time to just be apart from all the "things" thrown at me at once.
I was praying with a friend just last night, and it had been a few weeks since we had spoken. She remembered my prayer two weeks ago was one that life would just slow down for me, and I wouldn’t be so busy. I was tired. I wanted God to slow me down. She gracefully asked me how that was going and if God had slowed me down. I immediately said, "No, He has not." She laughed, but I didn't laugh with her. I wondered why, but at that moment I didn't say a thing.
When she asked what she could pray for, guess what? My request was the same. But, my life has NOT slowed down since the last time we spoke. It has not slowed down since God placed me specifically on the front lines to serve Him. I am still busy, and it brought me to understanding what God truly wanted me to see.
Maybe you can relate.
You see, my life will not be slowing down. It’s a life God has specifically designed for me. (He’s designed it like this for many of us.) When I seek Him and surrender to Him, He lays out the blueprint of my life. And, it’s to go through the difficult, to accomplish things in His strength, and to tackle a massive amount for His glory, but that doesn’t mean there is no rest. Jesus wants, desires, and invites us to REST IN HIM. (Matthew 11:28-29)
All this time I had been asking for the mission, His mission, to be removed from me without realizing that was what I was saying.
I tackle a lot, but I was looking at it all in a very earthly way. I wanted things to just be easier, but God doesn't promise for things to be easy. He never does. When you look at the lives of disciples, those called by God and Jesus Himself, you see a very different picture. God doesn't promise there will be no suffering. What He does promise is to be with us. He promises to be all we need, and He promises us rest when we rest in Him.
Friend, maybe life moves faster than you can run. Maybe you are weary because it’s just more than you think you can handle, and you’re tired. I get it. There is a life around us right now we were not prepared for, and we are learning along the way, but we are NEVER doing it alone. Rest is one of the greatest gifts from our Heavenly Father. He knows we will need it, and teaches us how to receive it. Here is something I noticed and realized as I said all these things out loud:
God is not slowing me down, He just wants me to learn to rest in Him and Him alone and not ask Him to remove the very things He has designed for me and to accomplish with Him. Why? Because He opens and closes doors for His children, and He is always working, always doing, and it’s always for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). He promises to give us rest when we rest in Him. There is freedom in this rest, and Jesus invites us to it.
I personally study the life and ministry of Jesus every opportunity I get. I noticed many times how Jesus would step away and pray to His Father. He would then return and go straight into His mission on this earth. All that Jesus did would cause many to be exhausted, to be weary, and to worry. But, it’s shown in the Gospels that Jesus was at peace with all He had in front of Him. His life was one of complete submission to His Father. And, He calls all of us to the same.
Friend, pray with me today:
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for using me to bring you glory on this earth. Help me understand what you have designed me to do, and that it’s never to just exhaust me physically. Help me see what to lay down. Help me release control of the things you want to hold. Remind me you stand at the threshold of my life inviting me to experience the freedom and rest in your love. Refine me and help me see there is rest in you, Jesus – harmonious rest. Teach me to seek that rest in you and you alone. Remind me your soldiers continue your work with you, and with that we have REST IN YOU.