A Prayer about Working Hard to Rest Well
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest. Heb. 4:1-3
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest. Heb. 4:9-11
Dear heavenly Father, what a glorious paradox. According to these Scriptures, you’re calling us to work diligently, to invest great effort, to strive with all our might that we might have done with all our labors and enter your rest. Work hard to rest well. Labor to cease laboring. Sweat to sleep. Oh, the beautiful, liberating irony of the gospel!
Indeed, the gospel contradicts the fundamental way I’ve been trained to approach every sphere of life—athletics, education, finances, career, reputation. “Do it the good ole’ fashioned way—earn it.” “God helps those who help themselves.” “You’ll always get what’s coming to you.” These broken mantras explain why I’ve a lot of life as a driven man, rather than as a called man.
But because the gospel is true, I didn’t get what’s coming to me. Fortunately, you gave that to Jesus on the cross; and in exchange, you freely gave me what I never could’ve earned—complete forgiveness, the righteousness of Jesus, and your permanent favor resting on me. Father, there’s no greater rest than to know you are at peace with me—to be certain that you are resting and rejoicing over me with great love.
Lord Jesus, after you created the world, you entered a Sabbath rest. Likewise, when you died on the cross, securing our salvation and the restoration of creation, you cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Your work was over and you rested, and now we enter your rest. The works we now offer you were prepared for us before the world began (Eph. 2:8-10). The labors in which we now engage are labors of love—devoid of merit, pride and fear.
Oh, the glorious soul-rejoicing freedom of grace! Our never-ending work is to hear and believe this gospel (John 6:29). What a most heart-resting vocation you have given us. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a salvation! So very Amen I pray, in your gracious and loving name.