“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15
I took the day off today to work from home, away from the phone and door and noise that naturally accompany life in a church. It is hard to step aside with God when I am in my office. Sometimes I go into the chapel or the sanctuary to listen and pray, but people find me or I simply anticipate being interrupted, which is why two o’clock in the morning is a wonderful time to sit with the Lord.
Last Sunday we read from Revelation 2 and heard the Lord reminding the church in Ephesus to remember their first love and do the things they did at first. It took a couple more days for God’s revelation to hit me. I realized that the thing that I did at first, while fresh in the throes of God’s love, involved waiting for hours at a time in the quietness of His amazing presence. The years since have found me spending less and less time waiting upon Him in the silence of His love and more and more time turning aside to the noise of life.
You know the noise. It surrounds us and overtakes us from within, clamoring for attention, sucking away at our lives. We become lost in the whirlwind of our thoughts, our concerns, our worries and anxieties, our anger and resentment, our plans and desires, our past and our pain, and the needs all around us. We yearn for quiet but find none. We toss and turn upon our beds at night praying for rest that does not come. So we layer on more noise to drown out the din within: turn on the music, the news, sports, a movie, the weather, a t.v. evangelist, a comedy, a tragedy, facebook, twitter, gmail, or our phones and text, call, or surf the internet, read an article, a book, the news, a joke, a top ten survey, while we clean the house, make dinner, make a list, play a video game, catch up on work, care for the kids, run errands, feed the dog, or do one of the thousands of things that seem necessary every day.
“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:2
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Isaiah 30:15
We would have none of it.
Why do we choose noise over rest and peace? I think it is because we are terrified to face God.
Repentance means to turn around: to turn around, to face God and the truth about our lives, and to put the world at our backs. This is terrifying, but life without God is infinitely more so. I had a dream years ago about how my life would have been had I left God behind. I was incredibly sad, traveling in circles with no direction or comfort, my second marriage in shambles, no children to hold. Terrifying. It was so real that when I awoke it took me a second to recognize my husband.
What will happen if we turn and face God? Where will He lead us?
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11
He will lead us into His rest, into His heart, into His love. Repentance and rest is our salvation. Quietness and trust is our strength.
In other words, we are saved when we turn to God and rest in what Jesus has done, and we are strengthened moment by moment as we quiet our hearts and trust the Lord. Without turning to God – there is no rest, without resting in what He has done – no salvation, without salvation – no quietness or trust in Him, without quietness and trust – no strength for the day. He offers us life and rest, but we will have none of it.
It would be so easy for me to say that it’s time to remember my first love and re-turn to Him. Time to give my back to the world and face His face and the truth about my life, rest in His presence, breathe in His stillness, trust in His finished work, quiet myself and be-loved. But I know me. I know how easily distracted I am. All this can just be more work and striving and noise. I need real help. I need to die.
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” Romans 6:3-5
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” John 12:24-25
Perhaps the only thing we are actually able to do, the only thing we are capable of accomplishing, is to lay ourselves down at His feet and ask Him to kill us. Paul said,
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Seems extreme, I know. But there is no other way to rest until we are dead to this world and alive in Christ.