THE SECOND REST

 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

 

If someone were to ask us whether we have found that rest, every one of us who knows Jesus would answer yes. When we left Egypt and came to Jesus we found rest.

           

And yet, if we're honest we will also admit that a strange thing has happened to us since we came to Jesus. After the honeymoon we began to experience an unsettledness, a disquietude that has caused our souls more conscious anguish than any restlessness we knew before we met the Lord.

 

Now it would be nice if real life were like the missionary biographies and the TV testimonies. That when you come to Jesus all restlessness ends,

                  you live happily ever after. Perhaps that's what the Hebrews thought would happen when they crossed the Red Sea. Now their problems are over.

                                                                 They are no longer Pharaoh's slaves.

 

But a new restlessness came to them and drove them around the wilderness forty years.        (Of course it wouldn't have had to be forty years. They could have crossed the Jordan much earlier.)

 

There is a restlessness which is peculiar to Christians. A restlessness which those outside the Kingdom never experience. Barely have you entered the rest Jesus gave you when you came to Him, when a new kind of rest­lessness begins.

 

Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and

my God.           Psalm 42:11

 

Those are not the words of someone outside the Kingdom. They are the words of someone

who knows God,

who has found God's rest,

 

and yet who is cast down, disquieted.

 

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbear­ably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death......

II Corinthians 1:8-9a

 

These are not the words of an unbeliever or some flaky half-committed babe in the Lord. These are the words of the apostle Paul, a man of God if there ever was one. Paul was being hit so hard by persecution that his mind was reeling, driving him to seek the "second rest."

 

Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.

II Corinthians 1:9-10

 

What do you do when you have come to Jesus and have en­tered His rest, beautiful things are happening; then suddenly your soul is cast down,

disquieted within,

uneasy,

restless.

 

It may be a great storm tossing your life around with trials and persecution.

 

It may be one of those calms when there is no wind day after day after day and your ship sits there and does nothing.

 

You're at loose ends. You feel like a total failure. You can't seem to find anything meaningful to do in God's vineyard.

 

The first temptation that comes to us when our soul is cast down is to try to relieve the pressure of inner restlessness by making a change in our outer circumstances.

 

If I'm working at a job

- I think maybe I should be going to seminary.

 

If I'm in seminary

- I think maybe I should quit and get a job.

 

If I'm in Detroit

 - I think maybe I should go to Kenya.

 

If I'm in Kenya

 - I should maybe go to New York.

 

Any of these changes might be a good thing, eventually, perhaps very soon. But changing our circumstances will never cure this inner restlessness.

 

Then comes the temptation — often so subtle we don't even consciously realize what we're up to — to do something to force God go move.

 

"I'm tired of sitting around waiting for God to move so I'm going to jump from the pinnacle of the temple.  If He saves me fine ... if He doesn't fine. I can't go on like this anymore!"

 

We take a leap of desperation (not a leap of faith, a leap of desperation). We give all our money to Billy Jo Mammonfaith or we join the Stepchildren of God, or we simply cut ourselves off from all our brothers and sisters and go into hibernation.      God can rescue us if He wants to.

 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

We did that but we're restless in a new way. Now what do we do?

 

We go on into the second rest. The first rest was a door; a gateway. The second rest is a path, a continuous walk.

 

How do we find it? Simple:

 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;

 for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:29

 

The second rest comes by taking on Jesus' yoke, learning to serve at Jesus' side.

To serve as He serves,

who He serves,

when He serves. Changing your circumstances won't help.

Jumping from the pinnacle won't help.

 

- Getting under the yoke will.

 

Three things happen to us when we get under the yoke with Jesus.

 

1. We have fellowship with Jesus in the only way fellow­ship is possible — in serving — laboring at His side.

 

People often picture having fellowship with Jesus as some kind of mystical communion in the rose garden. If you go into the rose garden looking for mystical communion with Jesus you are making yourself vulnerable to any demon who walks up to you in white robes.

 

The disciples had fellowship with Jesus by laboring at His side; serving ... all the time serving. Those mealtime conversations followed days of work with Jesus on the burning, dusty, smelly roads of Galilee. Serving petty, narrow minded, ungrateful people, or watching somewhere nearby as Jesus went off by Himself to pray. That's where fellowship with Jesus is found ... in serving ... always in serving.

 

Jesus is serving His Father in prayer and praise and thanksgiving — and we get in there and serve at His side. As He ministers to His Father in prayer we do the same. When you go into your room and shut the door and pray,

 

- you are not alone,

- you are under the yoke,

 

...praying side-by-side with Jesus Himself.

 

Then Jesus, in the spirit of the Father's mercy, goes out looking for the lost,

   the forgotten,

   the sick,

                                                                                                            the poor, and serve them. Again we get in there and serve at His side. The more we serve God and man in the Spirit of Jesus, the more we experience comm­union. And in that communion is rest for our souls.

 

2. Under the yoke we learn the value of lowliness.

 

Much lip service is paid to lowliness in Christian hymns and literature, but very few believers put any stock in it. Very few deliberately pursue it because they have no idea how essential lowliness is.

 

You cannot learn the importance of Jesus' continuous call to lowliness by reading books,

or memorizing scripture. You can only learn the value of lowliness by serving with Jesus under His yoke.

 

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls...."

 

So Jesus keeps giving us unglamorous things to do things that are plain work,

that bring no reward for our ego, things nobody can see.

 

- Who sees how hard you work ... how much it costs you to keep your mind at prayer?

 

- Who sees or cares about the effort you put into your daily chores?

 

- Who appreciates the time you spend writing to that grumpy old aunt?

 

"Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel..."

 

Who cares about the lost sheep? The lost sheep on your block, or in your family, are not like the movies, they're hard to get along with.

 

But, as we stay under the yoke and labor with this lowliest man who ever lived, and begin to learn

 

- how to deliberately stay out of the limelight,

 

- how to shut our doors when we get down to business in prayer,

 

- how to help and give and heal and even cast out demons without making a ripple in the world

   around us,

 

  we begin to experience, the awesome rest of God.

 

 

3. Under the yoke we find the door to God's presence.

 

And he said to them, "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him,, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he will answer from within, 'Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything'. I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you...."         Luke 11:5-10

 

Who is this person who knocks and knocks until the door of heaven opens?

 

- It's a man or woman who is under the yoke of service.

 

Someone has come at midnight  — the inconvenient hour  and I have nothing to give, so I knock at the Father's door and the door opens.

 

People take this promise of Luke 11 utterly out of context and present it as a panacea for spiritual idlers. True, everyone who asks receives ... he who seeks finds ... but this asking and seeking and knocking is only done by those whose hearts are breaking over the sickness around them that seems to have no cure

                                                                              .... the hunger,

                                                                      the desolation,

                                                                      the pain.

 

"Father, Father, open up heaven! Give us the Holy Spirit!"

 

- He does. And in the Spirit is rest.

 

Why art thou cast down, 0 my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.

 

Many of us are experiencing more restlessness since we have become believers than we ever knew before. It's a different restlessness, but it can cause more pain and deprive us of more sleep.

 

That first rest came to us at the foot of the cross.

 

- How can we ever forget?

- How can we ever stop giving thanks?

 

But now the vision changes. It's as if the Spirit takes us back to that place in Jerusalem where they laid the cross on Jesus ... puts us at His side ... places a cross on us and links the two crosses together.

 

"What are you doing, Lord? Why do I have to go through this?"

 

"Because here, under your cross, side-by-side with me you will find rest for your new restlessness

.... the second rest.

 

Don't be afraid. Here you will experience fellowship with me as we serve together.

 

Here you will learn to be lowly as I am.

 

Here you will discover the door to the Father's presence.

 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

 

HOME

OTHER PUBLICATIONS