I’ve been reading an excellent biography of a missionary who gave his life to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to several islands in the South Pacific that were home to many warring cannibal tribes. I’ve been exhilarated to see how the Lord delivered him, strengthened and emboldened him, and comforted him through many hard trials. And if I’m honest, there can be this creeping longing rising up in my heart, an elevation of that opportunity as a particularly desirable calling. I can be tempted to think that that testimony is somehow more special than the one I can give in my life, today.
And the Lord has used that experience to remind me of a very important truth: the most important testimony I can give is not the one that I give with my lips to other men; rather, it is the one that I give with my life, to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
“...The manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 3:10 NASB
We see from the earliest records of human existence that Satan is patrolling the earth, seeking whom he can accuse (Job 1:6), and we also see that God seeks for an example — for a man or woman who lives before Him — whom He can point out to Satan (Job 1:7) in rebuttal, to demonstrate His trustworthiness and the wisdom of His grand plan in creating the world.
But even knowing that, I find for myself that it’s far too easy to emphasize a spoken testimony, and to under-value the opportunity I have, today, to glorify the Lord with my life!
The Mark Of A Life That Testifies
Whenever I think of this opportunity, I’m reminded of Jesus Christ, Whose life “explained the Father” (John 1:18). As we grow in Christ, we should increasingly look at Jesus’ life for that explanation, and not just His spoken words. For me, three moments in His life offer the same profound explanation of the Father — all different angles of the same brilliance — like a multifaceted diamond.
“And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.”
Matthew 8:24 NASB
“Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, ‘Hail, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you have come for.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.”
Matthew 26:49-50 NASB
“...Pilate said to Jesus, ‘Where are You from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, ‘You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?’ Jesus answered, ‘You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above...’”
John 19:9-11 NASB
What I see in each of these three moments is that Jesus was at rest! He could sleep through a storm, because He trusted His Father. He could call Judas ‘friend,’ because He saw the cup came from His Father. He could stand up to earthly rulers, because He trusted in His Father’s supreme authority. The testimony of His life was a testimony of rest in a loving, powerful heavenly Daddy!
And praise God, we can give that same testimony today. Even if no one on earth sees, and even if we do not utter a word (just like Jesus did not speak while He was asleep on the boat), yet our lives can be a testimony given to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places of the supreme trustworthiness of our Father in heaven.
How do we give that testimony? Amidst the storms we face, we lay down in the boat next to Jesus. The disciples, who didn’t have the Holy Spirit, couldn’t rest until after the storm had passed; but we can rest with Jesus before. Amidst attacks from betrayers, we refuse to defend ourselves, like Jesus. The disciples, who didn’t have the Holy Spirit, couldn’t resist the impulse to take up arms; but we can entrust ourselves to God with Jesus while being wronged. Amidst challenges brought down from higher authorities, we take comfort in God being the ultimate authority, just as Jesus did.
At least one hundred times over the past few weeks, the Lord has been inviting me to “lay down in the bow of the boat with Jesus” while the storm beats against my little boat. Two things in particular He has challenged me with are:
Rest Is Not Optional
“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.”
Hebrews 4:1 NASB
I must take all unrest incredibly seriously. As we heard a couple weeks back at NCCF. All unrest is due to pride. So if ever I find myself outside of God’s rest, I must take it seriously, and ask the Lord for light on the pride that is keeping me from His rest. “Let us fear if we seem to have come short of it.” Take even the preliminary suspicion of a lack of rest seriously!
Rest Doesn’t Mean Laziness
I’ve noticed that my flesh will try to subtly twist the promised rest into an expectation of having nothing to do. That is a false hope. Resting in Jesus Christ does not mean we sit around doing nothing. Rather, it means simply that all our doing is as with Jesus Himself, supported by His everlasting love and care.
I’ve been surprised in this season of God inviting me into rest, that He’s also been commanding me to be more diligent, to be more proactive, to be more attentive, even in “trivial” things like my secular work.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,”
Colossians 3:23 NASB
So I want to reject all false definitions of rest, and come to Jesus longing for the true rest He so assuredly promises me. Refusing to be at unrest, and refusing any counterfeits the enemy might impose upon me.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NASB