3 Simple Ways to Rest in Victory as a Christian
Are you a perpetually burdened overworked Christian? Are you struggling under the crushing weight of too many obligations and commitments? Do you feel like you are constantly failing God?
Is real rest in Jesus nothing but a distant memory?
This is not what Jesus wants for you. You don’t need to be any of these things or live this way to please Him. God’s approval is not based on how busy you are or how much you do. God loves you perfectly as you – not as how much you do, or could do, how well you achieve, or who you could become. He loves you as a son or daughter, not as a slave. He died to set you free from grinding slavery, not trap you in it.
God wants you to rest in Him. Do you believe Him?
God Called You To Rest
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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.” Matthew 11:28-30
Stop for a moment and ponder the amazing offer in these verses. Jesus lays out the terms of a straightforward deal that is as clear as it is life changing. You come to Jesus. You bring to Him nothing but your sin, pain, massive burdens, and a hope for relief. He still wants you despite this. In return, Jesus not only saves you, but also promised to give you rest, an easy yoke, and light burdens going forward. It is a simple exchange of the worthless for the priceless.
You likely know this as a Christian, but do you live it? Are you resting and living with light burdens and an easy you? If not, why do you accept it as normal?
Too many believers still struggle to embrace rest as Jesus’ intention for them, despite the clear verses. You may be one of these many tired, empty, fearful, and stressed Christians. You are part of a group that understands the meaning of Jesus’ words, but resign themselves to a completely different reality. You either lost track of this state of peaceful stillness of Christ you once have or never experienced it as a reality. This is not meant to be accusatory. It is simply admitting that this is not where you are supposed to be. I have been here too many times myself.
What does this look like? How do you know if I am addressing you? Here are some good ways to test and see.
This is you, if:
You know you are saved, but worry each day about your standing with God.
You serve to gain security and approval in Christ, rather than relying on them to power your service.
You view God like a disapproving parent who is continually angry or disappointed with your failures.
You wish you could slow down or stop doing things at church, school, or home, but feel like you have no choice but continue.
You feel as if other Christians really knew you they wouldn’t like you.
Your Christian life is defined by exhaustion, fear, frustration, and condemnation.
You feel as if you are playing a part in church to cover over the truth in your heart.
If this is you, I am sorry. I know how painful and confusing it is from experience.
I ran myself to exhaustion as a Christian, at times, and the worst part was I thought it was what I was supposed to do as a disciple. I had gotten saved and was initially so shocked and excited that I truly rested for a time. I was so grateful and amazed that I did not think to burden myself with expectations. I then spent time in a culture that was the equivalent of the christianized version of the rat race that I had just escaped from. I had no experience with church before Jesus and I honestly wanted to make Jesus happy with me, so it seemed reasonable to have standards for success in Jesus and a sort of corporate ladder for disciples. These set out that if you served X amount of hours, filled Y amount of needs, acted in a certain capacity, and did not complain about it, then you were achieving in Jesus. You were applauded as mature in Christ. If you studied your Bible for a certain amount of time, you received a good evaluation. If there was need and you were available, you stepped up filled it until relieved regardless of what Jesus said on the matter. If you asked for help or stopped serving in that role then you were letting Jesus down and obviously showing immaturity. I worked long hours as a lawyer for more than years of my life that I like to remember to reach my professional goals, so I was familiar with this sort of life. It made sense to apply this experience to laboring for God so I bought into the church version completely. I applied myself more diligently since this time it was for Jesus. The tragic thing was the results of my effort and ambition were the same in both the secular and religious. I reached the summit of both mountains of success and found the religious version just as worthless as the secular. I looked over my life after making it to the “top” as a fancy partner in a law firm and as a “good” Christian in a church system and thought, “Is this it?”. I was exhausted, empty, and bitter in my supposedly thriving Christian life but was also afraid of God’s displeasure if I stopped. I felt like I would let Jesus down if I stopped doing what others called me to do and felt trapped. I did not see how to escape or whether I should want to. Was it even ok to want a break, some joy, or love from those I was serving? It seemed like God had led me out into the Wilderness to wander around rather than into the Promise Land.
It was here that Jesus displayed His unfailing grace and mercy. He spoke and answered me with a simple question:
“Tom, when did I ask you to do any of these works or bear these burdens?”
It was a great point. He had not asked me to so any of it. Jesus’ actual words jumped out at me from the page and changed everything:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
He promised a different life – rest, an easy yoke, and light burdens. I was not experiencing any of these much less the many other promised blessings, love, joy, and patience were all in short supply, because I was not actually looking to Jesus, but to everything and everyone else. I told myself I was fixing my eyes on Jesus, but my wretched condition was the clear indication that I went astray. It was not the life the Lord wanted for me and he used the pain to bring me to something so much better. He allowed me to indulge my will that lead to the Wilderness to show me grace and mercy when I was ready to stop fighting. His promised blessings were there for the taking the moment I actually followed Him – not myself.
Resentment, fear, emptiness, bitterness, and legalism are not things Jesus wants for you either. All these negative consequences of having our own way are understandable and common, but they are actions, thoughts, and attitudes that deny promises and truths from Jesus to you.
You don’t have to live this way to please God. Jesus’ love for is not fickle or based on your performance.
The foundation of your eternal standing is based on Jesus, not your actions.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39
Do you see how many different examples Paul uses of things that cannot separate you from the love of God?
Paul is emphatic that nothing can cut you off from Gods’ love – not even your own sins and failures. Jesus bought all of you for a price on Calvary, not just the parts you feel are lovable or worthy. Believing otherwise is just accepting more lies. It is not part of God’s deal.
The Way to Peace Begins with Rejecting Lies
“Con men know it is not their job to wow the skeptics, but to embolden the gullible to express what they already believe.“
Your mind and heart are Satan’s greatest weapons. His goals are to steal, kill, and destroy and they are violent and unrelenting. He prowls around like a vicious animal who would tear you apart, if he could. Thankfully, he can’t do this since Jesus shelters you from that sort of personal attack. Satan also cannot force you to work for him. The Devil cannot make you do anything unless you choose to, but it is in that last part he does his best work. He does his damage by enticing you to carry out his malevolent will. He deceives you into eagerly joining in your own exploitation. He makes you think good is evil and evil is good. It has been this way from the beginning, if you think about it.
Satan brought sin and death into the world through Adam and Eve. He caused their exile from the Garden of Eden. His work led them away from God’s presence and into great pain and sorrow. He did all that without using force and it is unlikely that he had the power to do so. Instead, he wreaked havoc by messing with the minds of Adam and Eve. He conned them into believing lies and the result as they thought they were doing the right thing while actually hurting themselves. The serpent did not need them to pledge their allegiance to him to cause the fall. It was only necessary that they be manipulated into relying on themselves. Self determination and self will are just as damaging as more obvious mutinies against God.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6
Do you see the expressions of rebellion hidden behind self here?
They knew what “God had said” and submitted to Him in the past. They had not touched the fruit and were content in not doing so. Then the serpent sowed the seeds of doubt, “Did God really say” and tempted them to exert themselves. It lured their eyes away from God’s mind, heart, and will and towards their own minds, hearts, and wills. It did not take long to change from “God says this is wrong” to “We think this is right” once they were wrongly focused.
It was the same spirit that led to Satan’s own fall:
For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
“I will” is the root of so much of what goes wrong in your Christian life. It is also the way out. You can identify where you have looked away from God, His will, and His judgment in favor of yours and declare “I will no longer believe these lies and rebel against God”. You can follow your Savior’s example and say,
“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
There is great news in this truth. I am giving you 3 steps that are exceedingly straightforward. You can do them with a simple change in mindset.
The big issue is whether you answer “I will” and exert that self to submit and grow in Christ.
Do you want to leave the crushing, painful, and guilt ridden Christian life behind and really thrive in Jesus…not just go through the motions?
Here are 3 simple changes you can make to your life that will allow you to embrace the wonderful life God has for you. Since this is a vitally important issue, the list of the steps is directly below but they are discussed in detail in posts that can be reached by clicking the links.
I recommend you take your time and read each of them as they are interconnected. Jesus used the truths in them to liberate me from so much of the pain, toil, and stress. I pray He does the same for you:
3 Simple Steps to Reclaim Your Rest in Christ
You cannot rest as a servant of Christ if you live to please people.
Your Master has everything under control. Your job is to trust Him.
Jesus died to set you free from grinding slavery. He loves you too much to ask you to return to it.
To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3