We are, by nature, restless. We are restless in our relationships; we are restless in our work; we are restless in our station in life; we are restless in our success; we are restless in our failure. Restlessness is as much a part of our mental makeup as our desire for food and shelter. And make no mistake; even after Jesus shows up and turns our lives upside-down, we are still restless.
He will quiet you by his love. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Here God confirms two very important things. First, He acknowledges the fact that we are restless. And second, He promises to give us rest. “Come to me,” our Lord invites, “all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). What a word of comfort that is to me! I pray that you, too, will draw great comfort today from the promise of God. Even we who are His adopted children are not immune to restlessness. And do you know why? It is because we forget who God is and what He has done for us.
Some of God’s children are restless because they simply cannot get past their past. Gnawing guilt has a death grip on them. Instead of resting in the righteousness of Christ, glorying with Paul that they do not have “a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:19), they are restless in their own righteousness—the flimsy fig leaves of self-righteousness which have failed them time and time again. They promised to do more and try harder, but with each passing promise, they realized just how far short they continue to fall of God’s intended mark.
Others find themselves restless because they are fearful about their future. Uncertainty about unsettling providences, which began as a minor infection, has turned into a raging disease. Instead of resting in the certainty of Jesus, they are restless in the uncertainty of life. They count on created things, which can never provide them with the rest that only Jesus can give.
Yet in all of our restlessness, Jesus has promised us rest. As children of God, we have a past that has been perfected and a future that has been promised. We no longer have to be afraid of judgment because Jesus took all God’s wrath and nailed it to that dirty tree. He took the cup of God’s judgment and drank it down, draining every last drop! ”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We can live at peace with God, because God is at perfect peace with us, thanks to the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Even when we are confronted with heartbreaking news, we can turn to the One whose heart beats for us and find rest in Him.
The Gospel also tells us we no longer have to attempt the role of personal deliverer, redeemer, or savior. Jesus has paid it all! He has done it all for us. God is not angry with us. God is not disappointed with us. God is not frustrated with us. And do you know why? Because God is well pleased with the sacrifice of His perfect, precious, and beloved Son.
Because we are in Christ, we are in! We are part of God’s eternal plan and purpose, a plan that was determined before the ages began. We are objects of God’s grace and favor and love. We are recipients of God’s mercy. We are adopted into God’s family and receive His care. The Lord said to Moses—and He says to us today—“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
Because of the gargantuan grace of the gospel, resting is the order of the day . . . not restlessness.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!