Faith

The rest of delight, wonder and presence

by Kenneth Chew // November 30, 2017, 5:26 pm

What true rest looks like 01

Are you tired, and looking for rest?

I’d wager a good number of us look for the latter in more sleep, or another K-drama binge. In reality our leisurely pursuits often end up leaving us feeling even more tired than before because they’re what we want – but not what we need.

We need true rest. That’s not a state of forced idleness or the absence of striving. True, Sabbath rest is a function of delight, wonder, and presence.

DELIGHT

To delight is to receive great pleasure from something.

In the creation narrative of Genesis 1-2, God delighted in his work when He saw creation as individually “good”, and collectively “very good”.

In my mind I see a potter who, having finished his masterpiece, leaves it spinning on the potter’s wheel as he kicks back in satisfaction. Holding a warm cup of coffee in his hand, he admires the vase with a smile.

The Creator God Himself found delight in His work, and then He rested. We are told to do the same.

Pressing in to God and delighting in Him – especially when we don’t feel like it – reaps rest that is truly restorative.

In The Dangerous Duty of Delight, John Piper writes that we are commanded to pursue pleasure in God. This might look like worshipping God even when we don’t feel like it. For when we pursue the joy that Jesus promises – God is glorified in this pursuit.

On when the cheerfulness of obedience is absent, Piper writes,

“First, confess the sin of joylessness. (“My heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I,” Psalm 61:2.) Acknowledge the coldness of your heart. Don’t say that it doesn’t matter how you feel. Second, pray earnestly that God would restore the joy of obedience. (“I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart,” Psalm 40:8.) Third, go ahead and do the outward dimension of your duty in the hope that the doing will rekindle the delight.”

To delight is to be intentional; true rest, thus, paradoxically takes effort. But pressing in to God and delighting in Him – especially when we don’t feel like it – reaps rest that is truly restorative.

WONDER

Wonder is a blend of amazement, curiosity and longing. It is to admire something that cannot be fully comprehended or understood in its complexity or beauty – something beyond yourself.

It is the stuff of dreams, the grateful awe an exhausted mother feels when she first cradles the child who sat within her for months; the tears which well in your eyes when you see a humpback whale breach for the first time.

C.S. Lewis writes in his 1945 essay, Meditation In a Toolshed, about the difference between looking at something, and looking along something.

God intends for us to experience deep wonder in our walk with Him. We are rested and invigorated when we marvel.

Using a beam of light to illustrate his concept, looking at the beam is the method of materialism. It involves analysing the beam of light scientifically: Photons, energy, wavelengths, intensity. It grants us comprehensive understanding, but is impersonal.

In contrast, looking along the light illuminates that which it shines upon. It is where we see the connections between all things and how our humanity fits into a God’s larger narrative of great adventure.

God intends for us to experience deep wonder in our walk with Him. We are rested and invigorated when we marvel – firmly recognising that our little life is led by the Hand of an infinite God.

PRESENCE

Finally, true rest comes when we are aware of God’s presence with us.

Whether we are numb to it or have forgotten – we all have an innate, heartfelt need for God. We want to feel His love, taste His goodness firsthand and hear His voice for ourselves.

True rest comes when we are aware of God’s presence with us.

In the Bible, “Jehovah Shammah” (Ezekiel 48:35) was used to name the city in Ezekiel’s final vision, in which God was to be eternally present. And in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), Jesus assures his disciples of His presence to the very end of the age as bring the Gospel to the nations.

We all have an innate need for something profoundly higher in our lives, and nothing is more desirable – more soul-sating – than the very presence of God.

Have you encountered it?

Isn’t it amazing how God is able to reach through the mess and muddle, and meet you where you are?

Whenever I go to Him, the God I know embraces me in the dirt and says, “My child, I am here.”

In a frantic life, He calls me to a pause. He blows the dust from my eyes, that I might see the world His way, delighting in the beauty amidst brokenness – knowing Him as Father.

And as I wonder at His glorious works, my eyes are further opened to a majestic tapestry He is weaving – one which He lets me be a part of!

And while I marvel at the privilege, He graces me with His presence. Each time I have to face the darkness in my life, I know Jesus waits for me with love and compassion in his eyes.

“I will give you rest, and so, so much more,” is what He says to me.

About the author

Kenneth Chew

Kenneth is best understood through his impassioned Instagram posts, composed in the deep of night when the tumultuous world finally lies silent. He probably prefers dogs to cats.