The REST of The Story, Part 1
I write this on Christmas Day, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
We say that Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Saved from what? For what?
We say that Jesus died to save sinners.
Saved from what? For what?
Sadly, for most Christians, their story begins with Hell and ends with Heaven with nothing in between. They are saved from Hell and get to go to Heaven.
Is that all there is?
In this post, I want to deal with both aspects of the definitions given above as they relate to our relationship with God. There is a part of that story which has not yet been told; and there is a part of the story which pertains to something of which we have yet to be told.
Most interpreters of the Bible say that the entire Bible tells the story of Jesus in some way. Some writers have gone to great lengths to show how Jesus can be found in almost every chapter of the holy book. I am in no way denying the central importance of Jesus, but I would like to help you see how much MORE there is to the biblical story than what we've known.
The story begins in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.
With me so far?
What was the first thing that came to your mind after that? Was it the Fall? How Adam and Eve sinned?
I would venture to say that most people would agree--the Fall is the central part of that particular story.
How much of a heretic would I be if I said, "Not so"?
Actually, the "Fall" is sandwiched in between the beginning and the ending of the story, which are the two parts that most people fail to see.
BEGINNING: man walked with God in peace, safety, and rest.
ENDING: God placed an angel at the entrance to the garden to "keep the way of the tree of life." (Gen. 3:24)
The word "keep" in that verse is the same as the word in Gen. 2:15 where man is put in the garden to "dress and keep it."
That is, man is to take care of the garden, prune, water, and fertilize it so that it can grow. He takes care of it, so that it doesn't disappear.
The angel is placed at the east of the garden to keep the way--to take care that the way to the Tree of Life doesn't disappear.
Most interpreters tell us that the Tree of Life is Jesus.
Where is this Tree of Life? In the midst of the garden. (Gen. 2:9)
What was man's condition in the garden? peace, safety, and rest.
If you have come to the Tree of Life, do you now have peace, safety and rest?
Unhesitatingly, most Christians would give a resounding "Yes!" to the question.
Probe more deeply, however, and you will find that most only refer that to their future afterlife when they are looking up at the ground.
In this life, they only have peace when there is no chaos in their life. They only have safety when a new law is passed to protect them from something that has never happened (and probably won't happen) to them; but laws, locks, and loaded firearms will never provide true safety or security. They only have rest when their mind finally shuts off and they can get some sleep.
This leads us to the REST of the story.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28, ESV) His promise is one of rest. It is the rest associated in contrast with labor.
Why, then, do we take it to mean something else? Mainly because most people have no idea how to appropriate the rest of which He spoke. It is there, waiting for you to take it.
Stop working so hard. Rest.
Stop working so hard to please God. Rest.
Stop working so hard to please others. Rest.
Stop working so hard to please yourself. Rest.
Have you learned how to do some serious relaxing?
When you go on vacation, do you still take your phone and computer so you can check to see who is doing what? Are you so busy taking and posting pictures that you are not just enjoying the moment? There is the subtle thought that if you don't have the pictures, you won't remember the "fun" you had. Well, you can't, if you don't enjoy the moment as it is.
Can you lie down and shut your mind off? One of my yoga students could never close her eyes, but kept them blinking as I watched her mind race even during shavasana (the corpse pose).
Can you drive gently down the highway, not having to pass everyone, or gunning it to keep from being passed? Do you become a member of the "white-knuckle crowd" during rush hour, gripping the steering wheel tightly because the situation is making you tense?
"But, I'm working hard, trying to find what is pleasing to the Lord." (Eph. 5:10)
What pleases Him?
That you take your rest.
He looked upon all His works, said they were good, and rested.
We look upon all our work, and say, "Crap! I've got so much left to do."
Is that what God intends for you?
That kind of mentality is a product of the Fall, not of finding one's way to the Tree of Life.
Why do you insist on living as if you are still affected by the Fall of man?
Stay tuned for the REST of the story.