Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rest - Part 5: Diligence

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 04:11, NKJV).

The opposite of diligence is carelessness, and herein lies a crucial difference between God's rest and human rest.

The Father's rest is not passive inactivity or indolence, but a lack of striving in our own strength.

To NOT strive to achieve our own ends, no matter what they are, is a challenge that we will fail without Christ within us, the hope of glory.

It is impossible without faith to let God work in our lives, and letting God work means ceasing from our own work. Don't get me wrong. I do not mean what you might think I mean.

I do not mean, for instance, that people in general are naturally industrious in the sense of having a decent work ethic. I do not mean that at all. 

I mean that most people will go to just about any lengths to get what they really, really want. They will strive to obtain satisfaction.

Just look around at the extremes that can be seen in the realm of politics, or business, or celebrity, to obtain power, or wealth, or fame. Amazing and strenuous effort is expended - sometimes against all odds, or sense, or sanity - to achieve a desired end at whatever means.

Some of those involved have neither decency nor a work ethic, but, they strive nonetheless, sometimes without ceasing.

If you have been alive for any length of time, you have encountered driven people. Some are driven to achieve something that might be considered good, others something bad, and still others something merely selfish.

Driven people are not restful. They may be single-minded, or have admirable endurance, but by and large, they are not nice to be around. And ironically, it is the most outwardly lazy people who are often driven the most, with their goal being self-indulgence.

Now, the example of disobedience referred to in the above verse is the faithless Children of Israel who came out of Egypt, led by Moses. In their natural striving for safety and security in their own strength, they refused to believe and obey God in regard to His giving them possession of the Promised Land. They got scared of the giants and walled cities, and the hopeless battles they envisioned in their future, and they stubbornly refused to have faith in God.

They attempted to change course when they finally understood the dire consequences of their disobedience, striving to convince God that they had a sincere change of heart, but by then it was too late. Just like it will be too late to choose faith when the object of that faith, Jesus Christ, makes His reality clear beyond all doubt - when He rips open the fabric of time and space to take possession of everything and everyone as Lord of Lord and King of Kings.

Someone who is diligent to enter God's rest is not driven. They are peaceable. They may work at something to the point of exhaustion, but in the midst of it they do not strive, they allow God to empower and direct. These kind of people stand out primarily because their most prevalent characteristic is a kind of calm cheerfulness, sometimes mistaken for resignation, but really its opposite.

They do whatever God puts before them, trusting in Him for the results.

But their doing is not self-propelled, it is through His strength and guidance. It probably won't look much different on the outside from any other form of work or activity, but at the center of it will be a heart at peace.

This can only happen through diligent practice at joyful self-surrender. Failure should be expected, but giving up is not an option.
The natural man is so twisted and bent by the Fall, that his only hope of remedy is to let the Father straighten him out.

And that requires a soul-deep acknowledgment that his own efforts and goals are useless and damaging, like a toddler trying to set his own broken leg.

God's rest is the key to transformation, but He will not force it on you.

You need to walk through the door on your own.