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Resting, Not Running

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
—Matthew 11:28

A rabbi was talking to a member of his congregation. He said, “Every time I see you, you’re always running. You’re always in a hurry. What are you running after?” The man said to the rabbi, “Well, I’m running after success. I’m running after money. I’m running after the rewards of my hard work.” The rabbi said, “Well, that would make sense if all of those things were still ahead of you and needed to be caught. But what if all those things you are chasing after are behind you and the harder you run, the more difficult they are for you to find?”

We’re all running after something. What is it that you’re running after? What are you chasing? A certain amount of money in your investment portfolio? A certain size home to live in? A certain place in your company’s organizational chart? A degree? Perhaps a relationship with another person that you think will make you happy in life? By the way, there’s nothing wrong with working toward these things—unless you’re under the delusion that achieving those things will ever satisfy you. The fact is, none of those things will ever provide lasting satisfaction.

Several years ago, I was cleaning out some old files and I came across a folder that contained a list of goals I had made for myself. It was dated November 1984. And they were very specific goals: goals for the size church I wanted to pastor, goals for how many books I wanted to write, goals for the radio and TV ministry I wanted to have, goals for every area of my life. As I looked over those goals, I realized I could check off each one of them. I had obtained every goal that was on that list. And I was immediately overwhelmed by two emotions. One was gratitude to God for allowing me to achieve those goals.

But second, I was overwhelmed by amazement that I wasn’t more satisfied than I was. Because even though God had allowed me to do those things, I still wasn’t satisfied. I was focused not on the things I already had, but on people who had more than I had and people who had done more than I had done. And that’s why you should never depend on outward circumstances for your inward happiness.

I once heard a parable that said, “Every morning in Africa when the sun comes up, a gazelle awakens and knows that it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will perish. Every morning in Africa when the sun comes up, a lion awakens and knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will go hungry. It doesn’t make any difference if you are a gazelle or a lion, every morning in Africa when the sun comes up, you had better be running.”

And that’s the tenor of our age, isn’t it? We have to keep running, chasing after the things that we think will make us happy. But instead of running, wouldn’t you rather be resting?

Take note of Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28. He says to us, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Too many Christians read those words and think, Well, that’s a sweet thought, Jesus, and one day when I die and go to heaven, I’ll be able to rest for all eternity. But, Jesus, You don’t understand my life right now. I’ve got to keep running just to keep up.

Jesus says, “You don’t have to wait until you die to rest. Stop chasing the money. Stop chasing the title. Stop chasing the relationship, the dream that will never satisfy. Instead, learn the secret of contentment.” Contentment is being satisfied with what God has given you, realizing that God has given you everything you need to enjoy life.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Developing a Content Heart” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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