Saturday, August 22, 2009

Childlike Rest in God

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28)
What do we do when we feel thirsty? We drink.
What do we do when we are hungry? We eat.
What do we do when we feel tired? We rest.

Lack of water leads to dehydration, and in severe cases, even death.
Lack of food leads to starvation, and dire situations raise tempers to a dangerous level.
Lack of rest leads to depression, and in extreme cases, suicide.

Lack of Rest Impedes Worship
Jesus knows and understands. True rest is not something that is forced upon. Sometimes, we tend to think that 'rest' is a form of recharging our drained batteries. Far from it. Rest is not to charged us up for more works. Neither is it another opportunity to play 'escape from reality' games. Let me suggest that 'rest' is learning to enjoy creation and the happiness in simply 'wasting time.' Ever see how kids jump for joy at playgrounds? They are carefree and enjoys simple things in life. Even an ice-cream cone perks a little child up, instead of injecting steriods or modern drugs to sustain our awakeness. Learning to 'waste time' is something we fail to achieve. I suspect that our lack of restfulness is a major impediment to worshiping God. How can we sing when our hearts are bogged down with anxiety and worry? How can we honestly say the words of praise and thanksgiving when we do not feel authentic about it? If a person's inner being is not at rest, external serenity means little. If we do not learn to still the inner noise, we cannot have real peace.
  • Have we forgiven someone who has hurt us in the past?
  • Are we too engrossed and lost in present concerns?
  • Are we constantly worrying about the unknown future?
  • When a heart is not at peace, how can anyone truly rest?
Eugene Peterson paints a livid description of Matt 11:28.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest." (THE MESSAGE)
How to Rest? Learn from Children
The context of Matthew 11: 25-30 is Jesus talking about little children. Unless we become like little children, and approach God with childlikeness (not childishness), we will fail to appreciate the depth of rest.
  • Adults take control (even 'wrest' control of rest); Children LET God take control.
  • Adults strategize and plan; Children simply wonder in trust;
  • Adults design grand plans; Children enjoy simple pleasures;
  • Adults run infinite laps of many works; Children take regular naps.
  • Adults take sleeping pills; Children dozes off listening to a sweet lullaby.
Helen Keller reminds us of at least one advantage of rest. We begin to notice open opportunities instead of closed ones.
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." (Helen Keller)
Isn't that so true for many of us, adults? We get fixated on the closed door 7 days a week and fail to make any headway. Perhaps, when we rest 1 day, our refreshed minds and hearts will learn to pause and see with new eyes the next day. I remember bee that constantly see the light but fail to get past the glass pane. They become so focused on the sunlight and yet fail to buzz beyond the clear barrier. If the bee had taken a break to sense the fresh breeze coming from the gap not too far away, it would have liberated itself. Let us learn to rest. Not only will we stop ramming our heads against closed doors, we free ourselves to notice open opportunities.

My friends. Rest is simply letting God be God. In us. Among our loved ones. The world at large. Only God is big enough to care for the whole world.


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