Rest for the Weary
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:11
I came across a dung beetle while hiking last spring. I’d never seen one except on TV, so I stopped to watch it for a while. As it rolled its ball of dung up an incline, it occurred to me that it would be much easier if the beetle would just let the ball go, allowing it to roll downhill with gravity. Apparently though, dung beetles use dung as a food source, so, if that beetle wanted to eat, it needed to roll that ball to its home. Yes, it was a lot of work at the moment, but if the beetle wanted to provide for himself, he had to put in the effort to do so. If he simply let nature and gravity take their course, life would have been easier temporarily, but then he’d have starved to death.
This is similar to the work of recovery. Once I simply let nature take its course, doing whatever I wanted, following my appetite. It was the easy thing to do. Except it led to disaster. Now, in recovery, I’ve found that it does take some daily work to remain sober. If I don’t continue to put in the effort to pursue my faith and recovery, I could go back to misery of addiction. If I desire to continue to enjoy the life of faith and recovery, I must daily put in the work it takes to stay here. Sitting back and allowing my nature to take its course leads to self-destruction. Experiencing the new life in Christ takes some daily effort.
This is the message of today’s passage. In it, the writer of Hebrews spoke of the promised land of the Israelites in the Old Testament, using it as a metaphor for entering God’s rest. God longs for us to know rest from the toils and trials of life. Peace, joy, and satisfaction are available to us if we will enter his rest, but this isn’t something that simply happens to us. God’s peace is a place we must purposefully live. We must obey him to get there.
In my addiction, I allowed nature to take its course which made me miserable. In abandoning my way and following God’s, I found new life in his rest. This isn’t a once-and-done event though. If I stop following God and go back to serving my appetite, I’ll return to addiction. I cannot experience God’s rest and addiction at the same time. It’s one or the other and if I want to enjoy God’s rest, I must obey, putting in the daily work of remaining in it.