By Fred Pruitt
(This article previously published as “What Is God’s Rest?)
A friend asked the following:
“Sometimes I feel God’s rest, joy, and peace when I praise Him or read Bible, it’s like Jesus who live my life, and I know it is the truth. But it’s temporary. The rest will leave after one day or some hours if I’m not doing those Godly activity again.
Does the temporary rest that I get is like the promise land’s rest? When the children of israel enter the promise land, they didn’t back again to the wilderness. But I always back to the wilderness of life.
It’s so tired, for do Godly activity to get His rest. I know it’s not the real way to get the rest, but I don’t have other way.”
He says, “My peace I give you, not as the world gives.” Not as the world gives. The “peace” or “rest” you are describing when you “do godly things” is really not the peace or rest He is talking about. You learn as you grow in Him that whatever your feelings are, whether elated and joyful, or sullen and tearful, either way you live inwardly in His peace and rest. Because He is already that in you.
For quite a few years I lived as you describe, where I “felt” more spiritual if I had done my Bible reading, prayers, witnessing, etc. I thought that my success or failure to live in the Spirit depended on how much I applied myself to those activities.
But the condemnation only increased for me, because in taking that road what happens is that those activities are never enough. God gets more elusive the more we “seek Him” in that way. And what I am meaning is to keep asking, seeking and knocking for the same things every time we go to Him in prayer. Where is the faith in that? The faith that God answers prayer?
But we do get an education also at this time, because the Lord is showing us something greater and more permanent than transitory feelings. A thousand things can affect our “feelings” (emotions) because they “feel” the strife and conflict in the world, and even in ourselves sometimes, and go up and down based on the way temporal things seem to be going.
But we learn in Christ to live in a deeper place than that. The Spirit brings us to the realization by faith that Galatians 2:20 IS true about me, in this current moment, and that the life I am now living is Christ living it, in union and oneness with me, so that it is Christ living His own divine/human life in the person that is you, and me, right here right now. No waiting until we get to heaven. No worry about whether we “feel” like it or not. No concern about how much Bible we read or how long we prayed. None of that has anything to do with it. We do not seek good feelings, we seek God, and He is not a feeling!
Feelings can be altered, manufactured, misleading, manipulated, etc., but Christ cannot. So we rest in Christ regardless of feelings.
This is really what we call discerning soul and spirit. Feelings are soulful and are transitory, or temporary as you said, and go up and down and in and out. Spirit is eternal, and what is true in Spirit is that the Lord has come in and become one Spirit with us (1 Cor 6:17), fulfilling His own prayers in John 17:11; 20-23, that we would be one in Him and the Father even as He is one in the Father. What is true about us since we have come into His kingdom, is that the Father has “delivered from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son,” (Col 1:13), and in Him we are His expression in the world.
We do not know that we are His expression in the world, as we “try” to adjust ourselves in some way to “try” to do things in a more godly way. However, as we receive by faith that His life IS right now, in this moment, expressing into my world as the person I am, then we know.
Christ has come into you and me not just to be around to help out when needed, but to be your and my every moment reality or truth. As Paul said, “to live is Christ,” and we find that is also our lives as well.
And Christ is not just to be found in so-called “godly” activities, like Bible reading, prayer, listening to sermons, etc. Christ is found in EVERY moment of life, in everything you see, hear, experience, because we learn by the Spirit to see no more as the world sees.
To see as the world sees is to be transfixed or maybe hypnotized by the daily appearances in the world, and to find all our rest or reality or truth there. And since that world is always temporary every moment, as long as our faith (committed attention) is dictated by what appears in the temporal, then what appears in the temporal becomes our all. We seek our fulfillment there but we cannot ever find it. That is what is means to see as the world sees.
But when the Lord in Spirit says to us, “Friend, come up higher,” we see in His vision, not anything like a “vision” with angels, etc., but the vision I am speaking of is inner knowing through the Holy Spirit Who lives in us. This is what Jesus was talking about when He spoke of “the single eye.” (Luke 11:34)
When we see that God is not feelings and God is not events and God is not found in the temporal, in Christ we begin to see what is the Eternal truth, which is that God is All in all. We see that He is All in all in us, and then what we see inwardly begins to be what we see by the Spirit in the outer. If God is All in all in us, then He is also All in all everywhere.
That is our Spirit living. We live from what is True and Eternal, and by living from that, our “view” of the external world changes to seeing the work and wonders of God everywhere working out His reconciliation, which He by us declares to all men.
So the key then, is to “know” Who you are, which is Christ in you. You are not separate from Christ but instead are His expression of Himself in the world. His Life in you does not depend on anything but Himself. He is His own instigator, and fulfiller of His own Word, which He does by us. He is every moment bubbling up from an eternal well within us, and what is bubbling up (not by our efforts but by the force of His love), is the Water of Eternal Life.
But now it is not just for me, though I did first have to discover this eternal spring within myself before I was then able to realize what Jesus said — “He that believeth on me, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of Living Water.” You are blessed and become a blesser!
What is the condition? “He that believeth on me …” There is nothing about doing anything else there. Because faith is pure and simply accepts the gift which has been offered! There is nothing to do but to receive, or take it. “Here,” the Lord says, “this is yours, I want you to have it. You shall be a well of living water, springing up to flow out in blessings and Life into your world.”
I hope you are seeing my point. We do not base anything on our feelings. We base our lives on Him. And “how” we do that is to realize we cannot do it ourselves, but that “He” IS now fulfilling His own word in me, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13). Trust the Lord to fulfill Himself in and even AS you! It is His business, and He knows what He is doing!