We’re really just beginning to experience God’s rest, but there is so much more that awaits us when we respond in faith. This is God’s promise to us if we don’t give up – perfect rest with him. Rest from trouble, conflict, pain, sorrow and death. No more hunger, no more thirst, no more tears. Instead joy, refreshment and satisfaction in his presence. Isn’t that something immeasurably precious? That’s our homecoming, our eternal inheritance.
These words keep ringing in our ears:
Today, please listen; don’t turn a deaf ear as in the bitter uprising.
For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened, never believed.
For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said,
Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.”
God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world. Somewhere it’s written, “God rested the seventh day, having completed his work,” but in this other text he says, “They’ll never be able to sit down and rest.” So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient. God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation:
Today, please listen, don’t turn a deaf ear . . .
And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.
Before we move into May, here are a few things I’ve appreciated in April:
Chris Tiegreen– I think Chris will be featuring here pretty much all year. Here’s my favourite (and challenging) quote from April (13):
If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to understand that He will not speak so definitely that no faith is required to follow; yet He will speak definitely enough for faith to have some direction. The key for us is to move forward when we think we’ve heard him. Some of us don’t do that. We wait until our hearts are absolutely certain – a waiting that never comes to an end because, underneath it, there is a fear of acting on faith. But God is looking not simply for our ability to hear. He wants a believing response.
For a limited time only, the Hungry Hippo Board Game Cafe has set up shop in Hindley Street, Adelaide (next to Uni SA). The cafe has shelves and shelves of games to choose from, and plenty of options on the food menu too. If you like board games and a fun night out with friends this cafe is worth a visit.
Apparently Google didn’t like my old blog theme – which it deemed as “not mobile friendly.” So Flourish! got a makeover with a theme called Penscratch. I rather like it and I hope you do too – especially if you’re reading from a mobile device.
I was reminded how photography helps me to look at my surroundings differently, to pay attention and look for things I might not otherwise see in the busyness of life. And it’s a great way to slow down and just breathe.
Last, but by no means least, I’ve been captivated by Jenn Johnson’s song In Over My Head. It’s on the Bethel Music worship album We Will Not Be Shakenwhich I mentioned in Monthly Musings for January. It’s a song that speaks to my heart and challenges me at the same time. Check out this video of Jenn talking about writing the song:
Bard stands with his son atop a ruined, burning tower, clutching the last black arrow that can pierce Smaug’s hide and bring the dragon down. Everything around them in Laketown is on fire, the windlass required to launch the enormous arrow has been destroyed, and Bard is forced to MacGyver his way out of the situation using his son’s shoulder to balance and aim the arrow.
Bard’s son Bain is panting and quivering with fear as Smaug tells Bard that the only thing he can look forward to is his own death. The boy looks over his shoulder at Smaug, scales glowing and enormous wings beating, coming for them, ready to set them alight with his breath.
Bard calls back his son’s attention.
“Bain, look at me. You look at me.”
Bain turns back to his father, and even though he is still afraid, he keeps his eyes fixed on Bard, his back squared to the terrifying Smaug. Bard sights on the one chink in Smaug’s scaly armour, hauls back and releases the arrow …
This scene from The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies, more than any other, was the image I took away with me from the cinema. That moment hit me in the chest as I was watching the film.
“You look at me.”
That’s Jesus’ call to me – to fix my eyes on him and not the things that make me afraid. He is asking me to trust him, to watch what he is doing, and to join him in it.
“You look at me.”
It’s his call to you too.
… And let let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
This morning I woke up with the melody of Oceans by Hillsong United running on a loop in my head. I’ve only heard it a couple of times, but somehow it had hooked its way into my memory.
Later it was back, looping around and around. Take me deeper …
Time to pay attention.
As I listened to it again, I heard the invitation – to go deeper with the Lord, to follow the Holy Spirit, to step out in faith, even when we make mistakes, even when we’re afraid. An invitation to trust Him, to rest in Him, even when the waves of life threaten to submerge you. Because there will be days like that.
It’s an invitation to know Him more, and to know that we belong to Him.
Whatever is happening, He will find a way to speak life, to extend invitations. Are you listening?
Are you listening for the invitations? What is God inviting you into right now?