A friend of mine and I were talking today about his 5-month old son and the ever-present lack of rest in their household at the moment. Like most infants, this budding man has yet to learn the obedience and the discipline of sleep. Sure, sleep is “natural” to a point, but not all that natural. If you’ve ever cared for a young child, you understand this point quite well. Children aren’t born knowing how to sleep through the night. It’s something that is learned, especially through the first baby-steps of parental discipline.
As we talked, it struck me…Learning to “rest” is the first act of obedient discipleship in response to God – in response to how he has created our bodies to work; in response to the authorities he has placed in our lives; in response to his sovereign care and keeping. The first step of submitting our wills begins as an “unthinking” (I say that tongue-in-cheek) infant who learns to rest through the night. Ironically, learning to “rest” is also, essentially, the last and greatest act of obedient discipleship to God. We learn to rest through adulthood, into old age, and even into death itself – to rest in God’s justifying and sanctifying work on our behalf; to rest in God’s plan for each day; to rest in God’s sovereign ordination of each stage in our life, come what may. We begin life learning to rest, and we end life learning to rest. I suppose this shouldn’t be any great surprise. After all, Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God was a defiant act of “doing” when they should have been “resting.”
In a manner of speaking then, discipleship in the footsteps of Jesus means learning to love and embrace Psalm 46:10 – Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
Oh Lord, teach me to rest!