One of the most tiring things that we humans deal with is conflict. Some people seem to thrive on conflict, but even for them, it’s emotionally draining – win or lose. Our world is in conflict and that conflict seems to affect everything we do these days. One area of conflict that we continue to read about is the Middle East. The Arabs and the Israelis never can seem to find ways to live in peace. One of the first efforts to bring about peace in the modern times was led by Dr. Ralph Bunche. His work in negotiating a peace agreement between the Arabs and the Israelis led to winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950. His negotiating skills were used in many other dangerous regions because he understood the need for peace and worked tirelessly to achieve it.
When we consider the world today, most of us would long for peace. The world situation continues to be fraught with conflict based on national or religious beliefs. On the national level, we all tend to be right and have made it our mission to show the other guys why they are wrong. At a personal level, we can’t seem to get along with others because we can’t seem to get along with ourselves and our God. If only we could find peace, or rest. The author of Hebrews speaks of such a rest. “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.” (Hebrews 4:1-2)
This rest the author talks about, if I’m understanding it correctly, is based on a relationship with God. It is based on the Sabbath God took on the seventh day after He looked at all that He had created and said that it was very good. There are some people who have a hard time understanding this idea. Not only does the national and international conflict affect them, but in their desire to succeed at their profession, they work 25 hours a day and 8 days a week. Their inner conflict drives them to be seen as the best at what they do. It affects their relationships with others. They don’t get along well with the people at work who don’t have that same sense of ambition. Their family has become an afterthought. They end up on top of their career world, but no one in the career will talk with them and their family is in shambles. In the literal sense of the meaning of this passage they refused to take any kind of rest and their lives became miserable.
We can look at people and thank God that we don’t do things that way. But how easy is it to drift into the same mindset of forgetting about God and doing things our own way. Oh, we may claim to have faith but we rarely take time to pray or read God’s word. When we go to worship, our mind is a million miles away as we worry about problems at work, or in the family. We let the problems of this world distract us. While it’s good to have concerns about our world, we need to remember that we worship to lay those problems before God. When we are more worried about how those problems will affect us, we fail to rest. If you keep bringing everything back to yourself, you will never enter the rest that God has planned for you. The old cliché really is true: We need to “let go and let God.” I urge you today to rest in the Lord. If there’s a problem, lay it at His feet and enjoy the rest you get from that issue. And then repeat it with anything that comes up.
Oh Lord, I so want to take care of things in my own ways. Teach me to obey You and lay my problems before You. Help me to experience the rest You have prepared for me now and in eternity.