A Perfect Place Rest

Grace Without Borders

OCTOBER 2017

A Perfect Place of Rest

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)

One of the greatest obstacles to fulfilling the plan of God is the way that we initially hear. God begins to speak to us about something big, something that He wants to do in and through us that is way beyond the scope of our own ability and imagination, and we are thrilled. We get excited, and so we jump out and try to bring it to pass.

Moses knew in his heart that he had been born for a purpose. He had been miraculously delivered from death as a child, brought up in privilege, and taught everything that he needed to know. He knew that God was going to use him in a powerful way to help deliver the Israelites out of Egypt (Acts 7:24-25). It was burning on the inside of him, and so at forty years old, he couldn’t take it any longer. He saw his opportunity, and killed an Egyptian who was fighting with a Hebrew. Moses was God’s “Man of the hour,” and he was going to save the day. But things didn’t turn out the way that Moses had planned. “What happened? What went wrong?” Moses no doubt must have had these questions as he fled into the wilderness from Pharaoh. Confusion and disillusionment setting in as he spent the next forty long years in the wilderness, where nothing concerning his calling or purpose would seem to take place. He was banned from Egypt. He knew that he could never go back. His reputation and place of honor ruined. He would marry a foreigner in a foreign land, have a couple of kids, and then retire, that was about it. His divine purpose was but a distant memory, and as far as Moses was concerned, as dead as the Egyptian that he had killed years earlier. But God had a plan.

Joseph had dreams. God had given him a series of dreams, and he had even seen his family bowing down to him. Being a favored child, his father had made him a coat of many colors, further distinguishing and alienating him from his brothers. He had a destiny. Everyone knew it, even those who hated him. His brothers were envious, and eventually couldn’t take it any longer. They threw him in a pit and left him for dead, along with his dreams. Joseph’s life was spared, however, and he was sold into Egypt as a common slave. Joseph was devastated. What would become of him and his dreams? He must have questioned, “Didn’t God speak to me?” “Didn’t he give me a promise?” Then something happened. He was bought by a man named Potiphar, a wealthy and prominent man of influence and power, and given favor in his house. Joseph was put in charge of all that Potiphar had. Maybe he thought to himself, “I have favor with the Egyptians.” “Perhaps I will be able to negotiate my freedom eventually.” But then it all came crashing down as he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, where he would spend years (not days or months). Joseph had never seemed further from his destiny. He was far away from his family and hadn’t seen them in years. He didn’t even know if they were still alive. He had no idea what would happen to him. It seemed as though all hope was lost. The courts of Egypt were not like courts today, for there were no appeals, legal protections, or rights. He was at the mercy of Pharaoh. The love of his father and mother, and his coat of many colors, were now but a distant and tormenting memory. But God had a plan.

David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons. He was least in the eyes of all of his brothers, and even in his father’s eyes. He was consigned as a shepherd boy, to watch a few sheep in the wilderness, and as an errand-boy. He was constantly belittled and harassed by his older brothers. When it came time for Samuel to anoint a new king to someday replace Saul, David was not even considered among the sons of Jesse. He was counted as an outcast. He was left in the field while his brothers were gathered together and brought before Samuel. However, God knew where to find David, and He called him to the front of the line (God always knows where to find people whom others attempt to hide). David was anointed, and a little while later he fought Goliath and delivered Israel. He was then brought into the house of Saul, and into the kingdom. We can almost hear David’s thoughts, “This is it!” “I have been given honor and favor with the king! I have been brought into his house, and will be taught everything that I need to know about being king, and then someday I will be handed the throne!” God’s plan was beginning to unfold before him. Surely anyone could see that. But soon David would be running for his life. He would never be a part of Saul’s kingdom, and neither would Saul train him or help groom him for his future calling. In fact, the only plan that Saul had for David was his death and total destruction. David would spend the next decade or so fleeing for his life. But God had a plan.

Every one of these men had one thing in common. They all had a God-given destiny, and yet they were all powerless to bring it to pass. Peter was a man after God’s heart. He loved Jesus, and had good intentions. He was the only man, other than Jesus, in whom it was recorded that he had walked on water. Peter had adamantly declared to defend Jesus no matter what, but when the pressure came, he failed miserably, and then wept bitterly. Someone once said, “If you can accomplish your vision in your own strength, then your vision did not come from God.”

Many people cast away their confidence because they endeavor to do things in their own strength and it doesn’t turn out well. They become overwhelmed and quit. But Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). The things that God has told us to do should be easy, without toil and frustration, not without work and obedience. There should be rest. Of course, there will be opposition, but even in the most intense battles, we should have peace. I have learned that whenever I find myself frustrated, I step back and look at the situation to see whether or not I am relying on God’s strength or my own. God can order our lives perfectly, and His grace can be involved in every facet and in every detail of our lives.

A couple of years ago, I was completing a Master’s degree, working seventy hours per week, taking care of the responsibilities of running a household, and during that time founded Grace Without Borders, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. I would have a ten-page assignment due in a few days (one that would normally take a week to complete), and frustration would try to settle in. One evening I had sat down to do the assignment and nothing was coming to me. I stared at the blank page in front of me and became frustrated. It was a Wednesday evening, and the assignment was due on Friday by midnight, and as I sat there, the Lord spoke to me in my spirit, “Why don’t you relax and watch a movie tonight. You’ve been working hard. You need some rest.” I thought, “What?” “Watch a movie at a time like this?” It didn’t make any sense, but the more that I struggled to do the assignment, the worse it got. Nothing was working. Finally, I put everything away and turned on a movie and just relaxed for the rest of the night. It was wonderful! I had a good time and enjoyed the movie. The next evening, I had a two-hour timeframe where I could work on the assignment, and completed within two hours what would have normally taken a week. It was done well because God’s grace was upon it, however, it took faith to put the schoolwork away the evening before, and do something that didn’t make any sense at the time, because the Holy Spirit had led me in that direction. The Bible refers to this as “walking in the Spirit,” or “living in the Spirit,” and “living by faith” (Galatians 3:11, 5:25). We can, and should, live this way all the time. Hebrews tells us that our labor should not be for the things of this world, but that we should labor to enter into, and abide in, that place of rest (John 15:4, Hebrews 4:9-11).

When we abide in the place of rest, no man can take it from us. Martha was frustrated because she was doing all the work and Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus hearing His Word. She came to Jesus and demanded that Mary help her, but Jesus defended Mary’s right to remain at his feet (Luke 10:41-42). God will always defend our right to remain in the place that He has called us. The only person that could have removed Mary from her place would have been Mary, but she refused to allow the fear of man, guilt, or intimidation to strong-arm her out of her place with Jesus. The pressure will come, and it will come from many directions. Sometimes it will feel like a stormy sea as the devil tries to abort our confidence in God’s promises, and get us out of our place of victorious rest. He wants us to focus on the immediate problems. Peter lost sight of the prize. He wanted to get to Jesus, but all he could see and feel were the waves and the wind. He got into fear and began to sink. Out of mercy, Jesus reached out and saved him, but He placed Peter back in the boat where he was safe (Matthew 14:22-33). It is good that Peter was safe, but he didn’t get to his destination. Peter could have made it to Jesus and stood with Him on the sea.

Has God given you a promise? He desires to bring it to pass, but it takes faith in His ability and strength, and not our own. We don’t know if Peter ever walked on water again, but he did step out in faith again. He became a great apostle and accomplished much for the Kingdom of God, but he learned some important lessons. He learned to rely on God’s strength and not his own.

The Apostle Paul also had to learn the very same thing. Paul cried out to God in the midst of the fierce opposition and attacks that were coming against him. The devil had assigned a special task force of demons to harass him, and Paul begged God that it may be removed (II Corinthians 12:7-9). Imagine someone praying a prayer like that today, “God please make it so that I will have any more problems with the devil!” Of course, God could not answer a prayer like that. Instead He would instruct you on the armor of God, faith in His Word and promises, the authority of the believer, prayer, and other foundational aspects of the Word of God. Paul was looking in the wrong place. He had his eyes on the wrong thing. He was under the assumption that God would give him abundant revelations, a ministry of power, and a commission to help establish the foundation of the New Testament church, and that the devil would somehow would just leave him alone and not bother him (Mark 4:15). But Jesus answered him with one of the most powerful statements that have ever been spoken, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

God’s grace is sufficient for us to accomplish all that God would have us to accomplish in the earth. His grace is sufficient to overcome every attack, opposition, and obstacle, and we have free access to this grace through faith (Romans 5:2). We can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrew 4:16).

So often we labor under the weight of our own works and efforts rather than relying on God’s strength. Our yoke should be easy and our burden light, for the grace of God makes what is impossible, possible.

– Tom Woythal

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