How would you complete this sentence? “When I get tired, I should _______.”
Did you say “rest”? That seems logical. And often it might be the right choice. But, sometimes resting too soon can be disastrous. What if you’re swimming across a deep lake when you get tired? What if you’re 25 years into a “till-death-do-us-part” commitment when you get tired of having to try so hard? What if you’re discouraged about your faith and wondering if there really is a God who cares, who forgives, and who promises you rest if you persevere? Do you say “I can’t do this anymore” or do you stay the course?
Only God knows how many great achievements have been missed because someone got tired and gave up just one step away from success. Twenty seven rejection notices slapped aspiring writer Theodor Geisel in the face before Vanguard Press finally agreed to publish the first of more than 60 phenomenally successful children’s books penned by the man we know better as Dr. Seuss. Miner Rafael Solano toiled for months with no reward in a remote Venezuelan riverbed before he finally found what came to be known as the Liberator Diamond – a 155 carat monster that netted the poor miner $200,000 in 1942.
Rest is tempting. We need it. God even commanded it. But, there is a time for rest and a time for the hard work that makes the rest more rewarding when we finally get to it.
Some early Christians got tired of their new faith. Their neighbors didn’t much like their religion. That hampered their businesses. It made it difficult for their children to get along with others. Some Christians were even arrested, and a few were physically abused. It got hard to keep it up. They got tired. They wanted to rest.
The writer of Hebrews reminded those struggling believers that God did indeed promise them rest. “The promise of entering his rest still stands,” he assured them (4:1). But it wasn’t time to rest yet. The race wasn’t over. “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall,” he adds (4:11). Note that: Work hard first! That will lead to the rest.
Every Christian gets tired. Each is tempted to rest. But now is not the time. Rest is waiting, but now is the time for “make every effort.” Rest comes later.