Rest Like A Child – Reflections from my first, but definitely not last, sabbatical.

 

During the months of December 2020 to February 2021, I took a well-needed break – a sabbatical. During this time of resting, the Lord showed me something so profound, yet sad, that I know I missed for a long time (and many of you might be missing this too). The profound revelation was that I had made an idol of work. I had gotten into a pattern of working as a slave and not as a child of the kingdom and like with most idols, I didn’t want to let it go because I believed the lie that it was shaping my identity and providing that which only God through Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit could provide. Let me share some of my learnings…

“1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” – EPHESIANS 2:1-10 CSB

In Ephesians 2, Paul gives us a snapshot of who we were before Jesus. We were dead in our trespasses and sins (v.1 and 5) – not sick, not even in ICU, but we were in the morgue – DEAD!!! Paul wants us to understand the true nature of our condition – WHY – so that we might see and be reminded of our desperate need for a Saviour.  We were like ZOMBIES, moving about, but DEAD. Before Jesus – WE ARE THE WALKING DEAD.

Paul says we were enemies of God, marching to the orders of Satan, fulfilling our fleshly desires by indulging in the things of this world. He isn’t pointing fingers, but he acknowledges that he too, was dead and an enemy of God. All of mankind was or still is in this condition. Nobody wants to be in this place – no one. The place where you are an enemy of God and therefore separated from the promises of the Gospel.

In verse 4 Paul says “BUT GOD!” I believe that we are meant to shout these words! Why? Well, look at the great news that follows this profound statement:

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,”

We have been “resuscitated” and made alive with Christ, just like Jesus at the resurrection. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly places; that is our positional standing, and though we may not be there now literally, we are now there legally. We have been adopted, we are NO LONGER SLAVES BUT SONS & DAUGHTERS OF THE KINGDOM! We are recipients of God’s grace displayed in us, for us and for others to see. God shows off in us, just like God shows off in Jesus!

This is what we have come to know as the Gospel. The Good News.

The Privilege and Joy of Grace. IT CHANGES EVERYTHING.

GRACE says you are now a child of God, and because you are now a child, you have all the privileges of a child – which means you get to do things and no longer have to. Think about this:

You get to rest – you don’t have to.

You get to serve – you don’t have to.

You get to be in community – you don’t have to.

You get to give – you don’t have to.

Adam Mabry says that “rest is a privilege for the child and a dream for the slave.” Let that sink in…

Rest is a privilege for the child and a dream for the slave.

If rest is a privilege for the children of God, why do we struggle with it?

I believe that it is because of our own idolatry, specifically our worship of work. We attach ourselves to work hoping that it will give us our identity, but it can give us what only God can. You are not your job title or your job description. You are a child of God. It is from that identity that everything flows. How different would your life look if you truly believed that? If you truly believed that God our Father loves you before you do any work, that He delights in you because of what Jesus has accomplished for you. This may take some time getting your head and heart around, but when you do, it will change how you work and rest. It did for me.

So why do we sometimes live like slaves, if we are indeed children of God? 

I believe there are many reasons, but let me offer three.

  1. I realized how easy we get lured by the temporal, even though we are made for eternity! We sometimes work as if this is our final resting place, when our eternal home is heaven.
  2. We sometimes think too highly of ourselves and think that we are the saviours of whatever situation you are dealing with. You are not! It’s important to tell yourself that – regularly.
  3. We believe that we are the source of our intellect, gifts and energy. We are not, God is our source of everything. He created us, He knows how we should function. If He says rest, then rest, take a sabbath. It’s not just a good idea, it’s an act of obedience.

The only appropriate response when you find yourself in this situation – no longer living as a child but as a slave –  is to renounce, repent and receive.

The only appropriate response when you find yourself in this situation – no longer living as a child but as a slave –  is to renounce, repent and receive.

Renounce – call the idol out on what it has become, recognize that it is evil and keeping you away from God’s heart

Repent – turn and acknowledge your role or participation in believing the idol rather than God

Receive – fully receive the grace and gift of God – root your identity as God’s beloved child

In resting, I experienced and realized anew the Gospel and its implications on my life and it re-oriented my understanding of work and rest. Simply put: I should REST.  If it was good enough for Jesus , then it is good enough for us. Resting should flow from our identity as children of God because we understand the Gospel and its implications for our everyday lives.

(Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash)
One Mokgatle
Written by: One Mokgatle on abril 21, 2021

One, his wife Confidence and their daughters Amara & Keeya, live in Pretoria, South Africa. He leads Rooted Fellowship; a Gospel Centered, Disciple Making and Transcultural church, planted from a partnership with LIG.punt & Bryanston Bible Church. One’s desire is to see more churches planted in Pretoria and beyond.

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