Jesus said to His Disciples, "Come apart into a desert place and rest." (Mark 6:31)
In John 14:1, Jesus said,
"Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me".
In John 14:27:
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you;
not as the world gives, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Isaiah 26:3-4: "God will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on Him.
Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."
Recently here in Oklahoma, we had one of the worst ice storms in state history.
During this time of having to stay indoors, I thought a lot about 2 very important words..'rest' and 'peace'.
Let's look at these two words and see how they go together, to equip us for life.
In the chain references in my study Bible, they are listed together.
They are 'keys' to the Christian life, but the world will steal both away from you...
if you're not careful.
Charles Stanley tells of a time when his briefcase was stolen from his car.
In it was his favorite Bible, given to him by his Mother.
He said, "In that moment I also suffered the loss of peace."
He goes on to say, "It is very easy to blame someone else when we lose our peace...
but the truth is, nobody can steal it from us!
If Christians lack peace, it is because we have voluntarily parted with it.
The Greek word for 'peace' literally means....
'binding together something that has been disconnected.'
By trusting Christ as Savior, we are reconciled...
or brought back into relationship, with our Creator.
When we receive Him, we receive God's gift of peace (Eph. 2:14)
which stabilizes and brings serenity...even as we face difficulties in life.
'Rest' is not ceasing from activity....
but a new satisfaction in actively doing Christ's Mission.
I like to call it 'letting your entire weight (of everything in your life) down...
on The Person and Promises of God.'
Be careful or like the foolish virgins, you may forget to get oil for your lamp (life).
(Matt. 25:1 following)
I used to wonder what those little 'bird-eyes' in music mean.
I learned that they stand for 'pause'.
There is no music in a 'rest', but there is the 'making of music' in it.
In our devotional book, 'Streams in the Desert', there is a quote by Ruskin:
"In our whole life-melody, the music is broken off here and there by 'rests'...
and we foolishly think that we have come to the end of the tune.
God sends 'something' into our lives that causes a sudden pause in the choral hymns of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent.
How does the musician read the 'rests'?
See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note...
true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between.
Not without design does God write the music of our lives.
Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the 'rests'."
When I was in the Army, I made the Ft. Carson Colorado baseball team.
While sliding into 2nd base I broke my ankle and due to slow healing...
I spent 75 days in the base hospital.
I wondered why it took so long, but years later when God called me to the pastoral ministry, I began to understand 'why'.
I found that as I visited people in hospitals, I was more easily able to 'connect' with them (and they with me) for I could better relate to their situation (and their frustrations).
God, our Creator, put into His 'recipe for our living', a day of rest.
He also set the example in His process of Creation and in His Ten Commandments.
He knows us better than we know ourselves...
so let us heed His instructions to 'rest in the Lord'.
One of the best illustrations of 'rest and peace' is in John 15...
with the example of 'the vine and the branches':
1) There must be close communion of the vine and the branches
2) There must be absolute dependence of the branches on the vine.
3) Deep restfulness of the branch to receive all that the vine wishes to give.
The amount of reception is NOT dependent on the amount of activity in the branch!
4) Absolute surrender is necessary
5) Much fruitfulness comes from this union
The secret of 'peace' is to give every anxious care to God.
While we were in Seminary, I pastored a church in northern Texas.
While on our way back to Seminary following the evening worship each Sunday, we listened to a radio station that signed off each time with the hymn "Be Still, My Soul".
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.
(Words: Katharina A. von Schlegel 1752
translated from German to English by Jane L. Borthwick in 1855)
(Music: Finlandia' Jean Sibelius 1865-1957)
This hymn was reportedly the favorite of Eric Liddell, the athlete who became famous in the 1924 Olympics for refusing to run on the Sabbath (see the movie 'Chariots of Fire').
Liddell later became a missionary to China and was imprisoned during World War II where it is said that he taught this hymn to others in the prison camp where he eventually died of a brain tumor.
"In returning and rest shall you be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength...and you would not."
"Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest."
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him".
"The steps (also the 'stops') of a good person are ordered by the Lord."
"Someday you will rest from your labors and your works will follow you."
Peace and rest are not a matter of our emotions, but of our convictions!