I’m tired. This past week I’ve just weezed my way through running every morning. I’m supposedly in great shape. I was doing speed work 8 days ago--no problem. I was running 10 miles in heat. No problem. Now getting through 6 miles is tough. My legs feel weak. And I’m feeling fatigued early in the day. Jan told me, “So take a nap if you're fatigued,” which I did…at 8:00 am! I’m tired.
I’ve been studying Psalm 62 which is on rest. At first this little obtuse hymn sung by Jewish people in their worship service meant very little to me. I only studied it after a younger staff member suggested we work on it together, and then write a sermon. It was a training opportunity, so I sort of went along with it all and was incredibly surprised. In the Psalm, the writer David, is in the middle of something dreadfully wrong. He’s not come through it, but he’s in the middle of it. And he begins by saying, “My soul finds rest in God alone…” NIV. Other translations use the phrase “waits in silence” and there in is the intrigue. The Hebrew word means “wait” as in rest so it's actually describing a spectrum. There are times when “rest” means you’ve done everything possible to deal with an issue so you stop, wait, and do so in silence. And in doing so you leave the results up to God alone. You’re in a place of rest. At other times, you are working at a frenetic pace but still doing so from a place of absolute rest. Again, the results you leave to God alone. But you are working from a place of rest, and not just resting from your work. The writer of the Psalm actually moves closer to a place of rest while writing the Psalm. He’s experiencing this “rest” at a deeper and deeper level while penning those words of hope. “I find my rest in God alone….”
This whole idea of rest has come home to roost with me this week. After an intense weekend at a church in another part of the country, I find myself deeply fatigued. Is it the heat? Is it the possibility that I’ll be that church’s next pastor and it's a tough assignment and I’m fearful? Is it just ordinary emotional fatique from a year of transition (everything is changing: where we live, Jan’s retiring, our ministry is moving away from the parent organization, our finances are not the same, etc.)? Is it physical and I need to see a doctor to counteract some medical issue? Is it chronic fatigue syndrome, which a friend currently has, and now its my turn to experience that lovely condition? I don’t know.
But this I do know…..
The God who redeems my soul through the work (hard work at that) of Christ on the cross also invites me to a place of rest. The God who reigns over my life because he’s the real king, also invites me to a state of repose as I submit to his will for my life…even if this is the start of the end of my life! That God says through the writer of Psalm 62, “Find your rest in me alone. I am your hope and your salvation.”
In that, I gain a great deal of strength. Because in spite of the incivility of our national dialogue, and in spite of the hand wringing over the way our modern cultures have destroyed planet earth, and despite of the reality that sin devastates people, and families, and marriages (I just had lunch with a friend whose marriage is falling apart and he’s contributed and admits it), and in spite of the difficulty of pastoring churches in transition or crisis, that God promises a salvation--and a place of rest--that’s real and not humanly contrived. Down throughout the ages, says philosopher Luc Ferry, salvation has been the goal of every culture. Something will save us. This is our hope, even for those who don’t believe in God. Something will save us! But in Christianity, that savior doesn’t just promise it, he becomes it. He is our “hope and our salvation.” Jesus is our rest. Christianity isn’t a set of moral principles to believe, but a person to trust. I’m banking on it. And in that, I’ll rest.
Time for a nap.