Rest is Hope

Views from Pothole Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

Views from Pothole Dome in Yosemite National Park, California

The past few weeks I’ve been talking about finding rest and quietness for our hearts in the wilderness, then sustaining that rest and quietness once we return to our normal lives.

Mt. Stewart from Teanaway Ridge, Washington

Mt. Stewart from Teanaway Ridge, Washington

The Israelites were in the wilderness, but they did not find there the peace that we go to re-encounter today.  Why didn’t they encounter quietness of heart in the desert?  God literally came down to talk with them, to inhabit their space.  All that was His could have been theirs.

Neon Canyon, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

Neon Canyon, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah

But they made bad choices in their hearts.  They refused God.  First, they “stayed at a distance [from God’s presence] and said… “do not have God speak to us or we will die.”  Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid…”  [But] The people remained at a distance.” (Exodus 20:18-21).  This was the Israelites’ first (of many) mistakes: they were so afraid that they refused to enter into the presence of the One Who had rescued them, the One Who had called them to come close (as though God would kill them when He called them to come and told them specifically how to come).

Big Craters Trail, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

Big Craters Trail, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

Secondly, they refused to take to heart what God had done on their behalf.  Finally, God said, “They have not known my ways… They shall never enter my rest.” (Hebrews 3:10-11).  It was stubborn hearts and unbelief that kept them from the rest that God desired to give them (see Hebrews 3:19).

Wildflowers and views on Reynolds Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana

Wildflowers and views on Reynolds Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana

Rest is more than just peace and quiet, even peace and quiet in our hearts.  God’s rest is blessing, encouragement, God’s presence.  It’s every character quality of God (for example, the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23).  And with that rest is the hope of God.

Waterfall in Bridal Veil Creek, Yosemite National Park, California

Waterfall in Bridal Veil Creek, Yosemite National Park, California

Have you ever watched someone who is stressed out?  They are often depressed, and they have no hope because hope cannot survive in the churning turmoil of a stressful environment.  There is little that strips away hope more quickly than turmoil – of heart, mind, soul, or environment.  You must have rest to have hope.  Even King David was not able to have hope for a place to build God a temple until God gave him rest on every side (see 2 Samuel 7).

Rock formation in

Rock formation in “Angel’s” Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

When we enter into the rest that God has for us by stilling our hearts in the wilderness and our normal lives, we open ourselves up to the hope that God has for us.  Hope of blessing, hope of His presence, hope that He is with us and will work on our behalf.