Opportunity To Rest (part 1) – from my talk at Ivy Kingsway this morning

In our Year of opportunity as a Church, I’ve called this talk, ‘Opportunity to rest,’ this is from the NT book of Hebrews, chapter 4. It says.. Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you fail to experience 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 add faith to hearing it. But we who believe do enter that rest.

(For) God rested on the seventh day from all His works… “Today, if you hear his voice,(are we listening) do not harden your hearts.” So… there remains a rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort – to enter that rest… 


I read this week about a trip to the supermarket that ended with a high speed chase, a frantic call to the police, a border crossing, a ditch, and a man who’s lucky to be alive. Frank Lecerf left his home near the French city of Amiens and was making his weekly trip to the shops in his Renault Laguna. He was going at 60 mph when the car’s speedo jammed. He tried to brake, but instead of slowing, the car sped up – with each tap on the brake leading to more acceleration. It just got faster and faster till eventually, the car reached 125 mph – and then stuck there. For an hour.

Lecerf, called the police from his car – and they sent a convoy of police cars to help clear the traffic ahead of him and open the toll booths. “My life flashed before me,” Lecerf later said. “I just wanted to stop.”

Finally, thankfully, his car finally ran out of fuel and came to rest in a ditch. Look at the map. He’d driven from northern France, along the French coast up through Calais and Dunkirk, and eventually crossed into Belgium!

Wow. What a picture! Life’s going faster and faster – suddenly – it’s out of control. Even when you try to brake, it just speeds up. Anyone relate to that? It’s really possible for us to live so frantically that we’re living so far out in front of our own lives, and never giving the soul what it needs the most: rest.

On a scale of 1 to 10 – you’re a 10 for REST?

Anyone? – we’ve got 500 plus people here – anyone would say – you are a RESTED person, right now?

There was a Doctor called Meyer Friedman. He is famous because he developed the whole idea of the type-A personality. Someone like me. That kind of driven, anxious, easily irritated, fast-paced person. He was actually a cardiologist, and the idea came from the people he saw coming into his practice.

If you know the story in Genesis about Cain and Abel, they were brothers and Cain got jealous of Abel and Cain killed his brother. God described the cursed way he was going to live as a result, in Genesis 4:11-12. God said to Cain: Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for  God said:

…You will be ‘a fugitive and a restless wanderer on the earth.’ That’s a CURSED way to live. A restless soul. So many of people are restless. Scurrying around the planet, always busy, always searching – never finding. Interested in everything, but satisfied by nothing. Getting more and more information bombarding us but living no wiser. Inwardly the rev counter is running way high. Our RPM’s keep going faster. And we may try to find rest for our bodies, might even manage that sometimes – but how do people find rest for your soul? We’re anxious, tense, worried; our minds don’t shut down. Even when we try to lie down at night, our soul is a restless soul.

I read this week about this woman Susan Root who has had what they call a musical hallucination – a kind of tinnitus, she has had ‘how much is that doggie in the window’ in her head for three years! She says, “It’s like having a radio you just can’t turn off. It has not stopped. It’s especially bad at night, I have terrible trouble getting to sleep – it drives me to breaking-point at times.”

Pause for a moment – can I just ask you to be really, really honest. How many of you, I’m not saying you have that tune in your head (woof woof!) but you’re often wound up on the inside. Worrying, you find it difficult to calm down – in your soul? At night – your mind keeps whirring. Or you may be even be with the family or go on holiday, but you can’t shut it down, your mind and soul rarely, finds rest? How many of you would say that’s you? Be really, really honest, the restless soul. Because God doesn’t want us to live this way.

Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes really paint a good picture of this kind of restless life, Ecclesiastes 2:22-23, he asked this: “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night, even at night his mind does not rest…”

And even though you’re sitting in the comfiest church seats in the world here at Ivy today, that doesn’t mean you get the kind of rest God designed you for.

We don’t want this to be an hour or so to ‘Do God,’ then move on the the next thing, a fast-food drive thru religious time where we carry our busyness and stop by and get what we need then move on – without any kind of deep, inner transformation. It doesn’t work like that – in case you’ve been wondering why it isn’t working like that for you here.

This time together isn’t meant to be your God part of life. It’s just part of you living like God wants you to live like all the time! God doesn’t want us to live like everyone else! Do you know that? He doesn’t want his people wandering restless on the earth like you’re under a curse. He doesn’t want all your days to be pain and labour and your mind spinning at night.

God’s people can live differently! If we do, it’ll be SO inviting and amazing to everyone else. They will want to know how. God has invited everyone here into a radically different kind of life than everyone else around you is living right now. Here it is. In Psalm 91:1 it says, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Everyone knows your body needs rest. But I’m talking today about a deeper need than even that – your soul needs to find rest as well. Or you’ll live like everyone else – as a restless soul on the earth.

So…where do we find rest for our souls? Only one place. You can keep on running and toiling, buying and trying a little while longer; some people come to the end of their lives (a lot faster than they ever planned to) before they find out… there’s just one place we find rest for our souls? Maybe that’s your REAL problem today? Looking for rest. But there’s no person, no experience, no holiday, no amount of money; NOTHING and NOBODY except God that can bring any human heart REST. In the essence of who I am.

When Jesus walked the earth, he looked around at the crowds, and said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Okay think about it, this is some of you; in your soul, but it comes out in your body… You started Lent by burning the Pancakes. Now you’re just stressed a lot of the time, you find it hard to show love to those you know you should love the most, because you’re tired but your soul is all revved up, you’re WEARY, tense;

The good news is, if that’s you – you qualify… “Come to me” Jesus says, “Come to me”, come to Jesus, come to the Son of God: WHO? Who can come? – Everyone! “…all- who are weary and burdened…” No matter what you’ve done… this promise is for you if you believe it and claim it…  Everybody, He said: “…I will give you rest.” For What? Not for your bodies, but you’ll find rest for your: “…souls.” Nothing else can do it. Your heart will be restless, till it finds its rest in Him.

John Ortberg speaks of a time when he recognised his life was getting more and more frantic, so he rang Dallas Willard – this wise older person who has written wonderful books, and said, “What do I need to do if I want to be spiritually healthy and alive and vital?”

There was a long pause, then he said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” 

Then there was another long pause, then I said, “Okay, what else – because I don’t have a lot of time and I want as much wisdom as I can get out of you in these few moments.” 

Then there was another long pause, and he said, “There is nothing else.” He said, “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. There is a difference between being busy and being hurried. Jesus was often busy, but he was never hurried. To be hurried is a disease of the soul. To be hurried means that I’m internally so preoccupied with my worries and my own little agenda that I become unable to live in the presence of my Heavenly Father who loves me, and unable to be fully present with, listen, and love and marvel at another person. Hurry will keep you from actually experiencing God’s goodness and care for you from one moment to the next.