I’ve heard it said before that while Jesus will always meet you where you are, He loves you too much to leave you there.
I’ve said on countless occasions to countless women at countless gatherings that although every follower of Jesus Christ met the Lord at the foot of the cross, we were never intended to stay there. In fact, He issues every believer this invitation to abundant life with His words in Luke 9:23:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (NIV)
The new life in Christ that we have been called into is all about transformation – momentarily, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, one degree at a time, slowly becoming less like ourselves and more like our Jesus.
But what happens when it gets hard? What happens when obedience is painful? What do we do when the transformation that God is calling us to is costly? The common answer to this question, at least from what I’ve personally experienced and seen in others, is that we grow weary. Our knees grow weak from standing, and they hurt from time spent on them in prayer. Our hearts become heavy instead of hopeful. Our minds are exhausted instead of encouraged. We don’t even know why we’re surprised by any of this. Jesus did in fact warn us of the cost of being His disciple. He never promised us an easy life free from trial and pain. Still, we’re worn out, tired of the pruning process, and ready to throw in the towel of striving toward obedience. Our feet are dirty and calloused from the long journey.
We need rest.
There’s no question that we have indeed been called to follow in His footsteps. There’s no question that we have been commissioned to carry our crosses. There’s no debating on the matter of obedience. These are the non-negotiables. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, when our arms are tired from all the heavy lifting and our minds and hearts have reached their capacity, where does the transformation actually occur?
In His presence.
Not in our doing, but rather in His presence. We have allowed our finite, human limitations to project limitations on our infinite God. We’ve confused obedience with salvation, and forgotten that it is by grace through faith. We’ve erased margin from our lives, therefore eliminating the discipline of rest. And it is in the “rest” that transformation occurs.
Take a moment to read Matthew 11:28-30.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
What is the opening command that we receive from the very mouth of Christ?
Come to me, and find rest.
How is it, then, that we have confused His invitation “to rest” with our striving “to do?” His invitation to rest is really a veiled request for our very hearts. He’s not after our hands, friends. He has two of His own, and He holds the entire universe in them. He wants our hearts. He wants our affections. He wants our energy. He wants our time. He wants our focus. He wants our attention. He wants our hopes and dreams. He wants our marriages and children. He wants us, not what we can do for Him.
Transformation occurs in His presence. When we come to Him, laying all else aside, recognizing that what is pressing and urgent to us is not moving Him or causing Him an ounce of stress or anxiety. He’s got it under control. He just wants us to come. He invites us to rest.
When is the last time you did?
Transformation occurs in His presence. So, live in the nearness of it.