Some time ago day my grandson was standing up in the rocking chair and rocking back and forth. I said, “Buddy, don’t stand in the chair. You’re gonna fall”. Well, fall he did. It wasn’t real pleasant.
How can we live in God’s will, and know it? As we trust Jesus with our life, how we can enter into the “REST” that God promises us and how can we know what that means and how we can get through life? In many ways we are not unlike those people thousands of years ago, wandering through the desert looking for the promised land. In many ways we are a lot like my grandson standing up in that rocking chair. Simply put, we don’t listen to God’s wisdom, indeed, we don’t listen to and apply the wisdom of Jesus in our lives.
When my grandson fell out of that chair, he wasn’t resting–he was hurting! As the Hebrews wandered for forty years in the desert on their way to the promised land, they weren’t resting–they were hurting. When we harden our hearts to the truth and wisdom of Jesus–we aren’t resting, we hurt in pain, bitterness, and anger. At the very least, we experience a lack of and longing for an never achieving fulfillment in our lives. In other words, we experience that 40 years in the desert searching for the promised land.
I found in my life that I TOO want to reach the promised land–I TOO want fulfillment in life–I TOO want to live in simple harmony with God and with those around me.
In the next few days we will open up the Holy Scriptures and we will see with our eyes what God wants us to see with our hearts. We’ll look at how we can learn from our past, how we should look to what has been promised us, and most importantly–how we must live in the present. This is a journey of living in God’s will–having that “rest” that was intended for us.
Hebrews 3:7-11(TNIV) (God’s voice speaking)
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ “
The first thing that we can do is to “Learn from the Past”. History repeats itself. It has to–nobody listens. LISTEN to your past! The writer of the book of Hebrews was talking to a group of Christians that are very much like us. They came to Christ out of a “past” that, like the ancient Hebrews, had been wandering through a desert.
A past is a hard thing to shake. It is something you are always trying to live up to or to live down. Some of us are proud of our pasts, but many of us are prisoners to our past. My past, my “desert”, has been one of partying and what I thought was fun that turned into addiction and slavery to the world. As the Apostle Paul tells it (he was a murderer of Christians) in his letter to the Romans 7:15. “I do not understand what I do. For what I WANT to do I do not do, but what I HATE, I do.”
Do you ever feel like that? Is it hard to understand the things that the world compels us to do that we actually hate doing because they drag us down so far? The Apostle Paul continues on and gives us a clue. This is verses 24 and 25 he tells us, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
If you see yourself in here, a prisoner, a slave to your past, the Apostle Paul shares the truth of God, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The only proper way to deal with the past is to learn from it. You can try to live in the past or you can try to run from the past–but you can never truly forget the past. Since we can’t leave the past behind, perhaps at least we can learn from it.
I believe, in as many words, that this is exactly what the author of Hebrews is telling us to do. He/She is basically saying, just like your ancestors that wandered through the desert for forty years, “You are your fathers’ sons and daughters….but you do not need to repeat your fathers’ sins.”
Indeed, you may be wandering through a desert in your life right now. But there is hope. There is a promise of God’s “rest” in your life. As the Apostle Paul shared with us, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Yes, we need to learn from our past.
Hebrews 4:9-11 9 (TNIV)
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
May you learn from your past and may you find the fulfillment in your future that comes from living solidly in God’s will right now in the present!