Monday, August 18, 2008

Hope and Rest

So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. (Gen. 1:31, 2:2)

Spurgeon observes from the Creation account: "Not first the light, and after that the dark; but first the dark, and after that the light." God saw that each night would end in daylight, and that the end of all the nights and all the days would be the eternal day in which there can be no darkness at all. This is what St. John saw: 'There shall be no night there, for the Lord God giveth them light"' (Rev_22:5).

What a beautiful picture this is of Christian hope!

In the theater, a play ends with the final fall of the curtain. But in the instructive imagery of Genesis Chapter 1, the Creation Play ends with news of a rising, and that which rises is far more than a curtain. It is nothing less that the sun itself, rejoicing to pour out its light onto a lovely Sabbath of rest. Rest, after all, isn't really possible without hope, and that's why God speaks of the sun rising into the Sabbath.

What does this mean to me on a frustrating Monday like the one I've just had? What does it mean to you?

For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: "In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." (Isa 30:15)

Resting is part of our salvation. We often talk of "resting in the finished work of Christ" for our salvation, but is there more to it than that?

Henry Drummond says, "Rest is not some holy feeling that comes upon us in church. It is a state of calm rising from a heart deeply and firmly established in God."

Boy, do we need that kind of rest!

Some people are easily touched by platitudes. A happy little saying can brighten their day quite easily. But many of us need more substance, especially when the problems of life have enough substance to overwhelm us!

What is the substance of our hope, our rest?

Eph. 2:14 tells us, "For He Himself is our peace." Sounds pretty substantive to me.

On a hectic day I don't get much comfort from the promise of a future peace that might not arrive until I die at 90 years old. If life continues to be as difficult during the second half as it was during the first (assuming I have a full lifetime ahead of me), then that future peace is too far ahead to do more than torment me, like a video of a flowing fountain would torment a parched man in the desert. I most definitely believe in that future peace, but I need peace and rest NOW.

I suppose if my faith were deeper I could get more comfort from that promise, and I congratulate those of you who have reached that point in your walk. I'm not there.

But there's really good news for folks like me. There's peace to be had now. I know because I've caught just glimpses, felt just touches, picked up the scent of it at times. But forgive me. I'm using the wrong pronoun. I shouldn't say, "It." I should say "Him."

He Himself is our peace.

Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) But we make a mistake if we picture Him with a package of peace in His hand, reaching out to give it to us. Yes, He gives us His peace, but He also IS our peace. He gives us Himself, and in Him we find all that we need...not just later, in Eternity, but in this life.

David said, "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living." (Psa 27:13)

It's been a few years since I felt the kind of hopeless desperation that made me long for death, but I haven't forgotten it. That's not the sort of thing a person can forget. A message like the one I'm now writing would probably have made me furious if I'd read it then. If you're in such a desperate place, I can empathize.

When I was in that kind of relentless agony, I very nearly gave up on God. The only reason I didn't completely walk away from Him was because I couldn't. I was one of His sheep, and I could feel His grip on me even when I couldn't hold on to Him anymore.

And as angry and hopeless as I felt, I was so grateful for that iron hand holding me fast.

Looking back, I can see at least two tremendous blessings which came out of that time. I can attest to the fact that with God we may go through darkness first, but as Micah reminds us, "He will bring me forth to the light; I will see His righteousness." (Mic 7:9)

He will bring us forth to the light...even you, oh desperately hurting child of God.

He will.

(Next: What blessings came out of those terrible times I spoke of?)

(Photo taken by Betsy Markman in Colorado Springs, CO)

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1 comment:

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Wow, Betsy. I've read through several of your posts, and here's what I'm thinking...

a modern-day psalmist.

That's what I'm thinking. I could go to a number of Psalms this day and find the penchant of your heart. Your words ring unedited and raw and real and quite, frankly, refreshing.

I don't know your story; that's ok. But I do believe that the penning of our heart is one of the vital ways we process our stuff and get to some healing. I sense that this is happening for you, although with the shadow of yesterday's pain still lingering close.

I, too, have had some of the seasons; it's why I can appreciate your truth as painted so poignantly on the screen. For what it's worth, I hear you.

Life is a mixed bag of everything. Sorting through all of it and coming out unscathed is rarely our portion. May God tend to your heart and mind and soul this day as only he can.

He loves you, and he is holding you (as you so beautifully point out) and our best days are ahead of us, my friend. Always ahead.

Keep to the road. Press on and press in. I'll do the same.


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