This is our final devotion on the theme of rest. We have already looked at the gift of rest, the discovery of rest and the practice of rest. In this posting we look at a verse from the prophet Jeremiah. In 6:16 we read these words:
‘This is what the Lord says; “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
What links this OT passage with the words of Jesus is the expression ‘and you will find rest for your souls’. Perhaps Jesus had this verse in mind when he spoke about rest. This phrase clearly connects Matthew 11 with Jeremiah 6. The question here seems to be ‘How will people respond to the message of rest?’ With that in mind, we can think of this as THE CHOICE OF REST.
We might think that everyone would automatically want to accept the offer of rest that the Bible makes, but we would be wrong. Here the people respond with a stubborn ‘No thanks’. Even though it is a good way, they say defiantly, ‘We will not walk in it’. Why is that?
Well often people don’t want to change their familiar ways, even when they know those ways are unhelpful. In our addiction to busyness, and with our need to be needed and our striving to achieve, some people remain unwilling to slow down and live a different way. When our worth is tied to our work it is hard to even to pause. If our self-esteem is dependent on our achievements we hesitate to stop. Ingrained patterns of behaviour are hard to change.
In this verse we find ourselves at a crossroads, a place of decision. We are called to choose between our own way and God’s way; between the way of the world and our society (even our culture, and the ethos of our church or organisation) and the way of God’s kingdom. To help us make the right choice, three words of advice are given.
STOP. If we are constantly on the go we will never have time to reflect on our lives and the way we are living. We have first of all to have the courage to stop, to pause, and to take a step back so we can think about how we are living.
LOOK. Look upwards to God. What is he saying to you? Look inwards to your heart. What does it tell you? Take time to consider how you are living, reflect on your relationship with God, think deeply about your relationships with others, your behaviour and attitudes.
ASK. Ask God to show you a better way to live, his way, the good way. We want to be up-to-date and abreast of all the latest thinking and technology, but we must also remember that sometimes the ancient paths have still much to teach us. The ‘way’ here refers to Jesus who said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life (John 14:6).’ He is the One who offers his rest to us. To follow his teaching is to walk in the good way. To take his words to heart is to walk in the way of wisdom.
As you reflect pray this week on these devotions, pray that you may always be willing to walk in God’s ways; that you will make time to stop and pause and listen for the still small voice that says, ‘This is the way, walk in it’. Pray that you may learn to work from a place of rest, allowing the rest that Jesus offers to be the foundation for your life of service.
Lord, I know today I stand at a crossroads. I can go my own way, or I can go your way. Help me always chose your way, the way that leads to life. In Jesus name.