when you hit your forties. We get tired. But, I can remember, in the past, times
I have felt restless. Sometimes a sense of restlessness can be so great and
troublesome that we can’t focus our minds on the tasks at hand. Sometimes it can
prevent our sleep as well.
In Hebrews 4:9-11 the writer of Hebrews is preaching a sermon (in the
last half of chapter three and chapter four) using Psalm 95 as his text. David
had mentioned the fact that many of the children of Israel were not allowed to
enter into the “rest” of Canaan Land due to their lack of faith, but died in the
wilderness over their 40 year wanderings. Instead their children entered into
that glorious rest provided by God. He goes on to tie in the fact that god wants
us to receive the rest from our own “good works” where we tried to pay for sins,
and instead allow His blood to cover our sins. Afterall, the Sabbath means
resting from our work.
In Hebrews, it is explained that the Sabbath Day rest of the Jews (work
six days, rest on the seventh) was a shadow or type of God’s rest that is to be
provided to His children. Hebrews is pointing out that because David said
“Today, if you will hear His voice,” then there must be another rest remaining
for the people of God, more than a Sunday nap between services, more than Canaan
Land for the Jews.
This is also shown in the prophetic passage in Isaiah 11:10. We know
that our rest comes from the lord. Psalm 37:7 and Matthew 11:28 points us in the
direction of our most bountiful source of rest and peace here on Earth. Prayer
is the source of peace and strength, our rest in God’s arms.
“At that heavenly sound
My soul, that is sunk in forgetfulness,
Recovers its judgment
And the lost memory
Of its first, exalted origin.
It transverses the ether
Until it reaches the highest sphere,
And there it hears another mode
Of imperishable music,
The first, the source of all.
Here the soul steers
Through a sea of sweetness, and at last
Sinks so deep within,
That it hears or feels
No strange or rare event.
O blessed trance!
O death that gives life! O sweet oblivion!
Could I but remain in your repose
Without being restored
Ever to these low and abject senses!
To this bliss I call you,
Glory of Apollo’s sacred choir,
Friends whom I love
Beyond all treasure,
Since all visible things are sorrowful tears.
Oh, may your music, Salinas,
Sound everlasting in my ears;
Hearing it my senses awaken to God’s goodness,
And all else remain oblivious.”
by Luis de Leon - Ode to Salinas*
* Fragment of a larger poem, which was translated from the Spanish
Salinas was a blind organist who played for the Cathedral of Salamanca,
Spain in the 1500’s. Leon apparently loved to hear Salinas play, and as other
portions of the poem explain, hearing the blind man play about the raptures of
heaven reminded him of how truly “blind” men are who seek only gold to satisfy
themselves here on Earth. The poem is speaking of organ music, a delightful
sound in which it is easy to lose yourself. But, there are parallels here drawn,
in my mind, to prayer.
Where we can turn music on loud enough when we just want to relax at
home, to stop our mind from working, providing a sense of rest sometimes from
troubled thoughts, prayer can give a rest to the restless that unburdens the
mind, body, and soul. The difference is like anesthetic and antiseptic.
Anesthetic numbs pain by dulling the senses, masking the symptoms. Antiseptic
cleanses a wound, allowing healing to take place.
When I can’t take time aside to pray, like while working, music
functions well to turn our thoughts to God. But, when I lay everything aside,
and turn my thoughts to God, focusing on who He is, my mind not only forgets the
details of the day, but wounds actually begin to shrink and heal. Heart pain is
erased in prayer.
In prayer, I can “cross that heavenly sphere,” and sink so deep within
His “sea of sweetness” that I feel nothing. When I hear His voice “sounding
everlastingly in my ears,” my senses die to everything else, external and
internal distractions, and “awaken to God’s goodness” where all else fades in
oblivion. This rest is the greatest peace to be found on Earth.
Hebrews warns us that the disobedience of an unbelieving heart can
prevent us from receiving the rest of God, like in the wilderness of wanderings.
Afterall, if you don’t have faith that God can keep your restless spirit in His
hands, then you won’t bother to pray for peace.
More is included in God’s rest than prayer. Worship also provides that
glorious rest of God, again illustrated by the poem, and experienced in church
services. The Holy Ghost experience is a glorious rest for all who will partake.
The Heavenly City will be our eternal rest. Paul said that eyes have never seen
what God has in store for those who love God. 1 Corinthians 2:9 The peace of God
can surround our restless spirits and give us rest beyond our own understanding.
Philippians 4:7 You know, I can only imagine heaven, but prayer is a bit of
heaven here on Earth, for those who will enter into that rest.