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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The Rest of God

By Larry Hatfield

Feb. 21, 2010

The colorful pamphlet described it as the perfect getaway, miles from the stress of everyday life. This was my kind of place! Gazing at the brochure’s photos, I could almost feel the invigorating air and hear the gurgling of cold streams idly winding their way down the mountainside.

I was hooked!

I was a prime target for this promising advertisement. The past several months had been extremely difficult. I had experienced more than my share of negatives, some for which I had only myself to blame. Without a doubt, I could identify with the Old Testament character who declared, “I am seething within and cannot relax” (Job 30:27, NASB).

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there now. Living on the ragged edge of life. Stretched to the breaking point. Outwardly, there’s a smile. After all, that’s what you’re paid to do. Inwardly, however, you want to scream in protest. Oh for that mountain stream!

Taking a break now and then is crucial. Someone once boasted that they had never taken a vacation. Their reasoning? “Well, the devil never takes a vacation!” That may sound spiritual. But you know something? That’s the devil’s problem. We’re not working for him. My bumper sticker declares, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter!”

Jesus, sensing that His disciples were to the point of being overwhelmed, gave this invitation: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31, NIV).

Rest is not mere passivity. Tranquility is a divine gift that rejuvenates the spirit. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). No “statute of limitations” has ever been placed on that offer. Jesus has never rescinded His invitation, and there’s no expiration date. The promise given to those weary disciples is His promise to us as well.

And, wouldn’t you know it, God came up with another great gift idea. He gave us friends. They are refreshers and energizers when circumstances have threatened to push us over the edge. It is only when we’re at our lowest point that the true value of a friend comes clearly into focus.

In reading Paul’s contribution to the New Testament, I have always been amazed at the amount of print he devoted to common, ordinary people. They weren’t rich. They weren’t famous. Who were they and why did he mention them so often? They were his treasured friends.

Few followers of Christ have suffered more as a result of their faith than did Paul. In his letter to the church at Corinth, he mentions these hardships: “For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn — conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5). But then he sneaks in another reference to someone God had placed in his life for such a time as this, another one of his friends. “But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6).

Indeed, friends were made to help us through painful circumstances. But let’s face it, there are going to be times when a friend can’t be there. And it won’t always be economically feasible to head for the perfect hideaway. We’re stuck where we are. What then? God extends a special invitation to the exhausted: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

One Sunday afternoon our 3-year-old daughter gave us a surprising bit of information while we were having lunch. Her mom asked what she had learned in Sunday School that morning. Without hesitation, she replied, “Be still, boy!”

Obviously, the teacher had spent a great deal of valuable class time dispensing that admonition to a little wiggler of the male gender. Consequently, our own little scholar surmised that this surely was the central truth of the lesson. And, come to think of it, wouldn’t we all be better off if we took those words of advice seriously. “Be still, boy!” “Be still, girl!”

The old hymn says, “There is a place of quiet rest … near to the heart of God.” Quietness in God’s presence will contribute more to a healthy heart than a visit to any brochure’s distant retreat. The closer we come in daily communion with Him, the more deeply we experience His peace and rest.

In the calm serenity of God’s quietness, in the inner man or woman that listens for the voice of the Holy Spirit, the essence of existence can be properly interpreted and appreciated. The writer of Ecclesiastes concluded his observations of life’s challenges and sorrows stating, “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Our Savior, who invites us to come to Him with our weariness, concludes His promise this way: “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” (Matthew 11:29).

That’s a brochure with an offer I can’t refuse.

LARRY HATFIELD is pastor of Grand Assembly of God in Chickasha, Okla.

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