The other morning I deserted my family. I don’t mean that I left them altogether, but I mentally checked out almost as soon as the day began. I hurried out of the house without an “I love you” or a kiss to either my wife or my son. My mind was focused on all the things I had to do that day. And nothing else, not even the most important people in my life, were going to stop me from getting things done.
Maybe you’re like me and your mindset is, “Manage your schedule or your schedule will manage you.” You’re a pinball in life bouncing from one activity to the next. But somehow, even in the midst of all your doing, you can’t rest. There’s always another task to complete, always another ‘to do’ item to check off your list. No matter how much you work, you can’t make it to the part where you say, “I’m done.”
The Root of Our Restlessness
I think the reason for our busyness and the resulting restlessness is that we’re trying too hard to be in control of our lives. We think that if we grind it out to reach our goals we will achieve a state of perpetual satisfaction. If we can just carry out all of our projects then we will finally be happy, at peace, restful.
But all our efforts to work until we find rest are a delusion. There is no eternal state of satisfaction that our labors can earn for us in this life. If we continue to live at such a hectic pace we will look back one day and find that we’ve accomplished nothing of real value. Even if we have some worthwhile achievements to our name, we’ll still have the sense that something is unfinished. We won’t be able to rest.
A Finished Work
You can’t grunt your way to spiritual peace. You can’t sweat your way to soulful rest. The kind of peace you’re looking for can only be realized by taking credit for someone else’s work.
When Jesus Christ came to the moment of His death on the cross He said, three simple words. “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30) He was referring to the work that He had done throughout His entire life–God becoming a human man, perfectly obeying His Heavenly Father’s will, and allowing Himself to be killed by the very people He came to save.
Christ’s work was to offer us the acceptance we’ve always been looking for but never knew we needed. Acceptance with God. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant those words not only for Himself but for everyone who believes in Him.
How to Find Real Rest
Real rest can only be found by trusting in the finished work of Chist. He lived the perfect life that we all are trying to live. He never wasted a moment of His time on earth. He didn’t leave a single task unfinished. And He could rest even in the midst of a storm (Mt. 8:24). And through His death and coming back to life, God credits the righteous work of His Son to us.
If we want to find rest, then we need to repent of our work. We need to accept that Christ accomplished the most meaningful work in the entire universe. He restored a relationship between us and God. Jesus satisfied divine justice against all of the times that we sacrificed loved ones and even ourselves on the altar of achievement. He gained for us the reputation that we are hurrying after, and by believing in Him we can find rest.
So, by all means, continue to work. But you don’t have to work as if you’re life depended on it. You don’t have to be a flurry of activity for fear that all the world will crumble around you if you don’t. You can exert yourself with relaxed relentlessness while you rest in the knowledge that the real work has been finished on the cross. When you grasp the Gospel you are free to rest.