The springtime months of 2020 were supposed to be busy. While all the events on my calendar were good things, still, it was packed to the brim, and I had little margin for rest. In fact, for the week following the Final Big Event chiseled into my planner, I had penciled in “Slip into a coma.” And then, a month before my anticipated collapse, the Lord wiped my calendar clean. My best-laid plans were scuttled in the onrush of a global pandemic.
As it happens, a clear calendar and government-mandated quarantine do not guarantee a calm heart and mind. Inactivity does not equal rest. Days and weeks of inactivity may still be filled with the restlessness of worry and fear. A multitude of concerns, whether sparked by the virus or other circumstances, threaten to fill my days and keep me awake at night.
The rest that I need—that we all need—cannot be found in settled plans, an empty calendar, or even the safety and well-being of my family. We need rest that doesn’t deny these very real concerns, but one that places them in more capable hands than our own. We need rest that entrusts ourselves and our loved ones to the God who made us and loves us and has planned for yesterday, this day, and all our tomorrows from before the beginning of the world.
Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls. — Jeremiah 6:16
God’s word reminds me that the rest I need doesn’t change from one situation to the next, but is always found in walking in the good way the Lord made known to his people from the beginning. Our souls need the rest found only in the ancient remedy God provided for our turmoil. True soul-rest is found in a relationship of humble reliance on God.
Humble reliance on God does not render me immune from the cares and consequences of living in the fallen world. To be honest, sometimes, that’s exactly what I hope for. My deceitful heart wants every path I walk to be easy and light, and the enemy of my soul whispers these false hopes into my listening ears. But the word of God holds out to me a better hope.
God’s word tells me that my Shepherd Lord leads me beside still, soul-restoring waters in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake, but also through the valley of the shadow of death. Yet there in the darkness of the valley, though evil may come, I need not fear because my Shepherd is with me to guide and comfort me (Psalm 23:1–4).
The Ancient of Days has searched out and planned my path in such detail that he is acquainted with where I lie down, with every word I speak, and with all my ways, hemming me in and laying his hand upon me. The wonder of this truth exceeds my understanding, but assures me that there is nowhere in heaven or earth where I could slip from God’s intimately loving and preserving presence (Psalm 139:3–10).
In fact, I can be assured that God causes my path, whether it leads me by still waters or through dark valleys, to work for my good, using the cares and consequences of living in this world to conform me to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:28–29). As I grow in my faith, entrusting my soul to my faithful Creator, I grow in the likeness of Christ, who walked the darkest path of suffering while still entrusting himself to his Father (1 Peter 4:19; 2:23).
The path to humbly entrusting myself to God, in good times or bad, is not a trail I blaze on my own. The path to God is found at the cross. Jesus alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through [him]” (John 14:6). Faith in Jesus Christ is the good and ancient path to believing in God, which leads to an untroubled heart (John 14:1).
Jesus invites us to come find our rest in him. From the universal call, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), to the intimate drawing aside of his disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31 NIV), Jesus offers us himself. Though we are still on pilgrimage, wandering and weary, the Shepherd of our souls is calling. He is our oasis in the desert of the world.
True, full, and lasting rest won’t be ours until we enter the glory of heaven. But God has graciously given us his Spirit and his word to help us now, while we still live in this wearisome and worrisome world. In the meantime, let’s avail ourselves of the simple means he has given, not only during our isolation, but every day. As the pandemic restrictions ease up and more outside activities resume, we need to guard our time in God’s word. Let’s keep our eyes on the good ancient path and find rest for our souls in Jesus Christ.
About the Author:
Barbaranne reads, writes, cooks, runs, and shoots an occasional photo in Texas. She and her husband Jim are the parents of five of the neatest people they know and grandparents to the first two of (hopefully) many grandchildren. She has been blogging ever since she accidentally signed up for a blog while attempting to comment on a friend’s blog post and figured, “Why not?” She now blogs at Grateful and Women of Purpose, a ministry of the women of her church. Barbaranne and Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas, where she leads a Bible study for women in the hope that she and they may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.