The Thistlebend study In the Garden is a prayer study. It is designed to help the reader journey to a deeper place of prayer. Each day of the four week study is different but based on a similar format. Each day, we read and meditate on one of the Ten Commandments.
Many people think the Ten Commandments are an old set of rules. Even Christians may overlook their importance. It is true that Jesus fulfilled the Law wholly and perfectly, that His sacrificial death and resurrection and our faith in Him as our Lord and Savior are what make us right with God. (Praise God!) However, the Ten Commandments served to govern God’s people in the Old Testament and protect them. They remain amazingly applicable to modern day life.
Yesterday in my quiet time, the commandment that Laurie included was the Fourth Commandment: “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God” (Deut 5:12-14a). The commandment goes on to more specifically outline how the day is to be a day of rest.
Laurie then went on to say that God no longer requires His people to take a particular day of rest. We read in Colossians: “So don’t let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating Jewish holidays and feasts or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these were only temporary rules that ended when Christ came. They were only shadows of the real thing—of Christ himself (Col 2:16-17, TLB). Laurie wrote that the Sabbath is no longer about resting on a particular day, but resting IN a particular person – Jesus Christ. At that moment, God opened my eyes to a question I have long struggled with: what does it really mean to rest in Jesus?
I sat on my back porch, listening to the sweet song of the cardinals, and, with Laurie’s writing to guide me, I began to break down what rest really means. When I am at rest physically, I think my body is inactive, comfortable, and relaxed. When my mind is at rest, I am at ease; my thoughts are free from anxiety or worry or fear. If I take this a step further, when I am at rest spiritually, my trust is in the Lord and I am dependent upon Him. I am at peace.
I confess: all of these places of rest are hard for me to get to. It is hard for me to rest physically – I always think of something that needs to be done. It is harder to quiet my mind. I feel like I am easily distracted. My thoughts often wander to my “to do” list or my schedule, and I grow anxious or worried. Spiritual rest is even harder. I struggle with control and want to do things my way. I try to fix things myself instead of turning to the Lord.
Meditating on all of this and thinking through how hard rest is for me was very illuminating. Why can I not rest? Do I feel I need to work to earn God’s love, to justify myself? Do I really believe that God will provide — that He, not anything I do, is the sole Source of all that I have? Do I trust Jesus to care for me so completely that I can allow my mind and spirit to truly be still? After all, Jesus himself said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28, NIV).
The Lord showed me that I do not fully rest because I do not fully trust. I am so grateful for this revelation! I pray for the faith to let go of the things to which I cling. I will slow down. I will prioritize my time with the Lord by being in His Word and in prayer. I will unburden my cluttered mind and lay my worries and fears at His feet. I will envision my Good Shepherd leading me to a place where the water is still, the grass is soft and fragrant, and the air is refreshing but quiet. I will remember His promises. Rest will come.
Growing in Grace