Well, it is upon us again. The Hebrew month of Elul. I've found that I don't even need to look at a calendar to know that this month has begun. It brings with it a great spiritual heaviness that I have learned to recognize each year. Perhaps this year there are MANY who sense and feel that the perilous times spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:1 are here. Peril is on the horizon. How are we to prepare?
The word rest keeps coming up before me, in teachings I've listened to, in devotions I've read, even in conversation. How could rest be a word that defines where we are and what we are feeling? Most of us are feeling just the opposite! In fact, many are struggling just to sleep at night.
So, a profound teaching by one of my very favorite teachers, Bill Cloud, helped a lot this week to re-define the meaning of this word. In his message last Shabbat he spoke these words: "The path that leads to God's Rest requires that we face our enemies and all these temptations and overcome them. Ours is a life of warfare and struggle, contending for the Kingdom of Heaven. We continually battle our own will and we try to crucify our flesh daily. But those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength. There remains then a Sabbath Rest for the people of God. Noah brought rest for the people of God through all the hard work he did - through a troublesome, narrow way."
I have thought about that a lot this week. Noah did not know "rest" in the way that we think of the word. He did indeed spend countless years working on the project God gave him to build and he faced the taunting and mockery of the unbelieving, evil people all around him. We probably cannot imagine what life was like for him and his family during those troublesome years; but he did not faint and he did not quit. He remained focused on what the LORD was asking him to do. He waited on God for each instruction and in the waiting and the obedience, his strength was renewed. He took the troublesome, narrow way. So must we.
Even the daily devotional that John and I read together each morning had the same message today. "The devil is fighting with all his strength to make us stop the work that God has put us in. But be it through needs, tears, trials, and even suffering, we will not go back, we will not waiver. We will continue pressing on, for the victory is God's. " - Dimitru Duduman
The victory, you see, is the Sabbath Rest that awaits us in the Millennial Kingdom. Finally there, we will experience this great victory for which we have fought, and know what it means to truly REST in the Presence of our great Messiah and King! But while we wait for His return, I know we have choices in how we handle these perilous times. I have just witnessed a beautiful example of one who really has made the choice to face the trials and the suffering with joy. We have a niece who was just diagnosed with cancer of the bone marrow. She was admitted to hospital in Atlanta a few days ago. The news was distressing for all of us who love her. I called her last night to pray with her and encourage her, but it was she who encouraged me! "What a beautiful view I have from my hospital room!" she exclaimed. "The sunset last night was so lovely and I am imagining that I am in summer camp."
Summer camp in a cancer hospital. So amazing! She is finding rest in the midst of a troublesome, narrow way. My dear friend, Phyllis Ford, wrote this week: "We are in a season of maturation process. We are approaching an hour where some of the most significant changes will be birthed out of the travail of things we face and endure. We continue to press into the Presence of the One who knows how to navigate us through the storms. A beautiful metamorphosis is taking place where Christ is being fully formed in us." That really is the goal of this life, isn't it? As my favorite Scripture says, "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Resurrection from cancer. Resurrection from Dementia. Resurrection from perilous times. Be it through needs, tears, trials, and even suffering we will not waiver. We will continue pressing on, for the victory is God's - and there remains for us a Sabbath Rest.
Kelly Ferrari Mills