“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” Galatians 5:22, NJKV
Jesus came to earth looking for a Bride. He is as interested today in a pure, spotless Bride as He was when He walked the earth. As any marriage counselor will tell you, the preparation of a bride’s heart is far more important to the marriage relationship than her preparations for an elaborate wedding ceremony.
Spiritually, our wedding with Christ has yet to take place. (See Revelation 21.) The central question for us during this time of “engagement” is: Are we busier with our religious activities than with preparing our hearts for Him? Are we focusing on religious ceremonies, but neglecting the Kingdom of God within us? Are we living a life of peace and joy, rooted in intimacy with the Bridegroom?
The Exhausted Bride
In a symbolic dream last night, I saw myself as a young bride, but a sick one. My husband, (whose most notable quality happens to be peace), saw my distress and took me to a nearby doctor.
At the doctor’s office, there were so many wounded and sick that there was a line of people out the door and into the street. People were in various states of injury; one had a broken foot and could not walk. Another had a contagious illness with sunken, hollow eyes. My complaint was that I was so tired I could not stay awake.
I felt out of place, as if my condition were far less urgent than any of these others. So many were in obvious pain and distress. But my husband insisted that I be seen by a doctor and treated. The line moved very quickly and I was seen almost immediately.
After examination, my diagnosis was that I had a disease the doctor said was like mononucleosis. The cure? REST. In the dream, a voice told me it would take “20 minutes” to recover from this disease. (Twenty in the Bible is the number of waiting expectantly, or redemption.) My recovery, or redemption from exhaustion, was to take a symbolic 20 minutes.
The doctor prescribed a simple dose of medicine which would, she said, restore my energy in stages. When I took it, I would have bouts of renewed energy, followed by more rest, and then a burst of energy again. In my mind’s eye, I could see the inside of my brain, which was represented as scientific numbers and equations, responding to the prescribed medication with lightning-fast tabulations and speed.
What Does the Dream Mean?
My husband, I believe, represents the Holy Spirit, whose fruits include peace and joy (Galatians 5:22). The doctor, of course, is Jesus. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of peace in believers’ lives. Mononucleosis is known as the "kissing disease," and speaks of intimacy. When we become overextended, even in our service to our Bridegroom, we need the healing touch of our Savior and Doctor, Jesus. His prescription is often an extended season of rest, in which we return to intimacy and our “first love” for Him.
We know from Matthew 11:28-30 that Christ desires us to come to Him and “find rest for our souls.” Revelation 14:11 tells us the fate of those who do not: there is no rest for those who receive the mark of the beast on their foreheads or hands. (Foreheads indicate anxieties of the mind while hands indicate drivenness of action.) The enemy is a harsh taskmaster and an experienced slave-driver.
Revelation 14 also promises that those who are in the Lord will receive rest from their labors. Believers may labor for a time on the earth, but the cares and burdens of this world will pass away. The wicked can expect only more of the same in eternal, unceasing torment.
REST is an essential part of the life of a believer, both now and eternally. I believe God is calling His Bride into a season of intimacy and rest that is deeper than she has known – and we must fight the lies of the enemy that tell us we are less needful than others of this rest in Him. Often, we do not perceive the extent of our own exhaustion.
The Inadequacy of a Sabbath Rest
In response to life’s accelerated pace, there has been an increased emphasis lately on observing the Sabbath. Christians worldwide are writing and teaching about the importance of returning to a weekly Sabbath rest to counter the busyness of our modern lives. Like the young bride in my dream, the Bride of Christ is feeling an overwhelming exhaustion induced by the enemy. (For more on this topic, click here).
I am not against practicing the Sabbath; in fact, it is something I do myself on a regular basis. But the truth is that a Sabbath alone is not enough. The rituals of the law are (still) not adequate for the kind of life we are called to live. Jesus knew this, and called us to a life of even greater rest and peace than we find in the legalistic observance of a once-weekly rest.
In the New Testament, Jesus calls us, through the Holy Spirit, into a life that is characterized by constant rest and peace. (Philippians 4:7.) To some of us, this sounds like an impossibility. Who has time to rest continually? Life is far too busy for that!
My life is busy sometimes, too. But it is precisely because life is so busy that we need more than just a weekly Sabbath! When we learn to find a continuous rest and peace in God’s indwelling Presence, we can carry that peace and joy with us throughout every moment of every day.
Paul writes to the Romans: “The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17.) The progression in this verse is significant: righteousness comes first. The key to finding real rest, peace and joy is to first find our righteousness, not in the good works or service we do, but in the righteous position we have in Jesus Christ. Kingdom peace and joy come ONLY through our intimate relationship with the King Himself! We are made righteous not by works, but by abiding in Him.
If I had to guess, I’d say that most of us experience more of the “struggle to be righteous” than of the joy and peace we are promised. Christians can end up emphasizing righteous behavior far more often than righteousness as a benefit of our relationship with Christ. We work to attain something we already have, and religion at its worst feeds into this deceptive doctrine of legalism, which only wearies us in the end.
In contrast, a biblical perspective on the Kingdom of God turns our traditional thinking upside down. Jesus calls us not to tedious service under a relentless taskmaster, but to restful obedience in Him. His yoke is easy, His burdens are light. Miraculously, as we yield ourselves to His service, our souls find rest even as we work.
We learn through the principle of the Sabbath that when the land was not given its prescribed rests, Israel – who had become an abuser and oppressor of her land instead of her caretaker – was sent into captivity for the exact number of years that the Sabbaths had been ignored. (70 years). The “prescription” given for overuse and overwork was a time of rest and redemption, so that the land could replenish itself. (See 2 Chronicles 36:21).
I have good news for you. God wants to restore the years the locusts have eaten! He wants to renew your energy and replace all that you have lost to harsh taskmasters, measure for measure. As you submit to His plan for restoration, the Lord will hold your oppressors at bay until you have completed your appointed time of rest in Him. You will emerge from this season refreshed and ready for the new things He calls you to do.
REST-oration begins with REST! Jesus has prescribed a season of rest for His Bride, a symbolic “twenty-minute” season of peace through the Holy Spirit, which will result in her glorious redemption. This “season” began at the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost and will end at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
We believers are the beneficiaries of a true “Sabbath rest” through the anointing and work of the Holy Spirit. As we listen more closely to the Spirit’s leadings, we find that He desires to draw us ever closer, out of the turmoil of life and into an intimate embrace with Him. As we submit to His yoke, we learn to begin our daily work from a place of rest, as opposed to striving continually to find (or earn) that peace. May the Lord reveal these truths to us in such a way that rest and intimacy with Him becomes our greatest delight.
Questions for Reflection:
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
Free Link to the Subscriber Resource Library when you join His Inscriptions!
A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.