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Rest or Resignation?
By David A. DePra
For we which have believed do enter into rest. (Heb 4:3)
There is a huge difference between rest and resignation, as it pertains to God. Rest is faith in God. Resignation is giving up on God.
If you think about that word, "rest," it indicates a cessation of work. If we believe that God is in charge, we are able to REST in the fact that He is. And then we are able to LIVE IN the fact that He is. So rest doesnít mean we are passive. No. We do need to obey God. But our REST stems from the fact that we realize that all the promises of God find their YES IN HIM Ė not in us.
Notice the words of Hebrews: We who believe DO ENTER into His rest. You cannot enter without faith, but if you do believe, you have entered. Thus, faith is rest.
REST means I stop trying to accomplish for myself what God has already done, or already promised. This applies to more than salvation. It applies to any purpose in the life of the believer.
Labor to Rest
The big struggle in the Christian life is the struggle to REST. Isnít that ironic? We must labor to enter His rest!
Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Heb 4:11)
We are supposed to LABOR Ė not to finish what God has finished Ė but to labor against anything which would tell us that God hasnít finished it! In practical terms, this means that we are not to labor to try to get God moving on our behalf. Rather, we are to labor against any unbelief that would tell us we need to labor to get God moving. And if we do, we will enter into HIS REST on that matter. We will know that Godís heart and mind, and purpose, is already a done deal on the matter. It is just a matter of us coming to the place where we can enter by faith.
Now, what all of this means is this: We are not to labor to get things over to our will. Rather, we are to allow God to adjust us to His will. Neither are we to worry that we are not adequate for Godís will. We are to confess our inadequacy, and put our faith in Christ.
If I was presented with a brand new house, complete in every way, can we see the folly of entering into that house with tools in hand, with the intention of improving it, and making it over to what I want? Yet this is exactly what we do with God. God already has a will for us. He is not confused about it, trying to figure things out, or making it up as He goes along. No. His plan and purpose for us is complete. Thus, if we try to enter into Godís will, Godís rest, with, "tools," in hand, still wanting to make Godís will for us over into our image, we cannot enter. We arenít able to enter because if we did enter, we would destroy both the house, and ourselves.
God says, "I want to get you to the place where you are willing to receive exactly what I am willing to give. No more and no less." Is that bad news? No. It is good news. God wants to adjust us and make us able to receive all that He has for us.
But we still think WE know better than God. We still have our agenda for our lives, and an ego we try to salvage. We fear this and that, as if God hasnít thought of it. We tell God what we will accept as His will, and adjust the Truth to fit ourselves. We continually try to do damage control on those things God wants to crucify in us. We labor and labor to try to make things come out the way we think they ought Ė not so much in opposition to God Ė but for God.
For God? Sure. Natural thinking is quite possible for a Christian. Many of us, in our natural thinking, decide what Godís will must be for us, and then will not settle for anything else. We do this out of fear, or we do it out of pride. And of course, what we decide is Godís will, is usually going to be something that feeds our self-will or ego in one way or another. Somehow we never make room for the fact that God may want to crucify the very thing we are laboring to protect. This is why some people never get far with God.
Some of us donít necessary have the intention of making over Godís will so that it fits our preferences. Instead, we live in the fear that we cannot enter Godís house (His will and purpose for us), because we fall short of the merits necessary. So we labor and work to try to meet what we perceive are Godís requirements. But God would say to us that we need to stop laboring so. He has already told us we canít make the grade. That is why it is on the basis of Jesus Christ that we are able to enter His rest.
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to distrust it. (Heb 4:1)
The legitimate labor in the Christian life is against unbelief. We are to labor to enter His rest, lest any of us DISTRUST the promise that we can, right now, solely on the basis of Jesus Christ, enter His rest on all things.
The attitude of RESIGNATION with God is the result insisting on my own way with God, not getting it, and then conceding defeat. But resignation is not surrender. There is nothing of faith in it. I still want my own way. My resignation is nothing more than a ploy I use to try to convince God that I was right and He was wrong. I give God the, "surrender," He wants, so that He will THEN act on my behalf.
Resignation is unbelief, not faith. It is, in fact, rebellion. An act. It is a concession I make to a God who I still recognize is my meal ticket, and so I do what I need to do. But my heart is not in it Ė indeed Ė resignation indicates a hardening of my heart. I have passed over an opportunity to truly surrender to God.
Here are some comparisons:
I rest IN God when I finally see that there is nothing I can do to help myself. I resign FROM God when all of my efforts to help myself have failed.
I rest when I see that there is nothing about me I can give to God as a reason why He should help me. I resign when I have presented my best to God and am embittered that nothing happened.
I rest when I see that all of Godís promises find their YES in Him, and not in me. I resign when I believe that God was looking for a YES in me and couldnít find one.
Rest carries a delight in the fact that I can do nothing to merit Godís help. Resignation carries an anger towards God because I think I have merits and God ignored them.
Rest is the result of wanting Godís will, and only Godís will, and of believing He will do it. Resignation is the result of still wanting my will, or Godís will -- my way. I resign because God didnít comply.
The question in all of this is SURRENDER. Surrender, by definition, results in a cessation of conflict. That is peace and rest Ė but a good one, because I have surrendered to God. Resignation carries no surrender. I still want my own way with God but have resigned myself to the fact that God isnít going to give it to me.
God is in the process of bringing us to REST. There is really only ONE way in which this can ultimately be accomplished: God must allow us to burn ourselves out. He must allow us to exhaust our efforts. Then we will see that He alone must do it. Then we will rest.
What we see here is that learning rest isnít something acquired from study or from grasping the theological principle. You learn rest by living. God proves it to you.
Now, there ARE choices in this process. It is quite possible that anyone of us could, in this process, resign FROM God. But if we continue to seek God, and hand ourselves over to Him, He will bring us to the end of ourselves.
There is a tremendous freedom which comes from seeing that there is nothing you can do about yourself Ė a freedom from seeing that there never was a thing about you that could impress God. None of us have one thing we can present to God which obligates Him to help us. Nothing. God has one reason for helping us: HIMSELF. He wants to. He loves us. The sooner we see this Truth, the better. It is the Truth of grace, and can be applied to any aspect of our lives.
Now, all of that is easy to say. We still think that we need to merit Godís help, or find a reason which will obligates God to us. Some of us present our works, sufferings, our service, or even our good attitudes. The most subtle thing we think obligates God to us is our faith. But if we would just see it, this is nothing but, "faith in our faith." ANYTHING we use as a merit is the thing we are putting our faith in!
Can we see that? If there is even one thing about me that I think will move God, then my faith is not in God, but in that thing. God wants to bring us to the place where we are delighted to stand before Him utterly naked, without a reason to give Him as to why He ought to help us Ė except His own choice to be faithful.
It might scare the average Christian to think of standing before God and having to rely completely upon His character, love, and nature, instead of anything at all about themselves, but it just goes to show you how far we have to go in seeing the Truth about Him. In reality, there IS NOTHING about us which obligates God. And in reality, God isnít asking for anything. He obligates Himself, because of love.
Again: "For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." (2 Cor. 1:20) It may sound trite, but if you want the will of God, you are going to have to surrender to God. Period. It doesnít work any other way. Godís will is found in surrender to Him, and nowhere else. And if you do surrender to God, then God will begin a work wherein He will make you fit FOR His will.
So Godís Word for us is to believe Ė to enter into HIS REST Ė His finished plan and purpose for each of us. But not in an attitude of resigning ourselves to the fact that we didnít get something else Ė something we thought might be better. No. We enter by faith because we recognize that God knows better than we know, and even knows what we donít know. Rest is the result of knowing that God is always working on our behalf, to His glory.
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