“Let us make every effort to enter that rest
so that no one will fall by following their example
of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:11
South San Francisco has many small hills and winding roads. Clearly I was directionally challenged as I tried to find the small home where the social event was happening. A pre-smart-phone passenger suggested we use a map. I replied, “Who needs a map when you have a full tank of gas?” At <40 it seemed a smart, perhaps even a pioneering-sounding statement; 35 years later it sounds dumb. I am aware most days that I have less time and energy than I did back then, and the days don’t seem to get longer nor the gas tank bigger.
Which takes me back to Hebrews chapter 4. Whoever wrote the book of Hebrews was acutely aware that some people got the whole Jesus thing, and others missed what was under their noses. “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.” Hebrews 1:1 (NLT) As I write this I am teaching a class called rēStart—rest+art—the art of working from a place of rest. One of the potential assets we can grow during and take from the Covid-19 pandemic is rest.
What separates “work from rest” and “work from striving”? Just before verse 11 we are told to “strive to enter God’s rest… rest from [his/her] own work.” Just after verse 11 we are told that God sees our hearts and knows why we work, and the motive for work seems it might be the dividing line between work from rest, and work from anxiety, ambition or greed. Here’s the passage that flows our key verse:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.
I spoke with a friend this morning and he talked about “the fine line between sloth and over-working because of lack of faith.” This is a hard one for us to map and navigate, and I am sure I flip-flop between work from lack of faith and “work produced by faith” as 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says. I do know, however, that grasping and living in this core truth—entering God’s rest—not just on a Sunday/sabbath, but seven days a week, is key to our wellbeing, productivity and legacy. I, for one, don’t have time to do bad work. And I certainly don’t have the time or energy to drive without a map just because I have some gas in the tank.