I like to hike, especially this time of year when the glory of God’s creation is waking up all around us. Trees are budding forth from their long winter’s nap, and the fragrances of new life assault our senses with hope of what it to come. There have been times when I have set out for a hike on a new path, on a trail I have never gone on before and after a few miles or so I realize that I forgot to bring the map. Not sure where I am, or where I am to go I begin to panic. I start to get scared,
discouraged and question whether or not this was a good idea. I start to tell myself I should just turn around and go back the way I came. But then I remember to look for the sun, and to seek it out in the sky, where it is at will tell me which way I need to go. Once I find it I can regain my bearings and get back to my hike with the sun as my guide.
This morning this reminder of hiking was a great comfort to me. Since I am on a new adventure, hiking on a trail I have never walked before, I found myself lost yesterday. I became discouraged because some things came up that caught me off guard, there were some obstacles before me and I didn’t know what to do about them, and I couldn’t find my map. I began to doubt and question if I was going the right way. Was this really the path God wants me to take? What if I am wrong? What if this is just all in my head and I never really heard from God in the first place? The more I questioned the more distraught I became. I began to panic. I began to look back at the way I had come and thought maybe I would just turn around and go home. Then God reminded me to look to His Son. My Guide, my Hope, the Architect who put all these plans into motion, the One who built the steps, and the path that I am on, I just needed to seek Him and find Him.
I was working on our study for this week in the Book of Hebrews chapter 3 and came across the word rest. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.”” (Hebrews 3:7-11). The history of these scriptures is found in Numbers 13-14. God told Moses to send out spies into the land of Canaan, the land that He had promised to give to His children. So Moses did, and for forty days they spied out the land and brought back some of the goods that they had found. They came back with a good report, well, sort of. Numbers 13:25-27 tells us that they spoke of all the good things, the great abundance and the milk and the honey, just like God had said would be there. But, there was a problem, because the people who lived in that land were huge and there was no way that they could ever defeat them. (Numbers 13:28-29)
Caleb, a man of great faith speaks up and says that they should go and overtake the land. But the men who had spied out the land said no way, we can’t do that. They are bigger and stronger and they will devour us. We are but tiny grasshoppers compared to them. (Numbers 13:31-32). God had promised a land to His people, a land that flowed with milk and honey. He promised to be with them, to fight for them, and to fulfill His promises to them. He promised to never them or forsake them. But they refused to believe that He was able to do all that He had promised.
Has God not given us a promise as well? God has given us every single one of us a promise, a promise to do something for us, to bring something to pass in our lives, our family, etc. He has placed in our hearts a promise of the future that He has purposed for us. His promises are His purposes. But what happens to us so many times is that we set out on our trail and things are going great, we are enjoying the abundance of the land we are checking out, but then all of a sudden an obstacle appears, or we come across a great mountain and we just can’t see past the size of it, so we panic. We forget Who the Architect of the path is, and we end up getting lost. We begin to question and doubt if this is the right path or are we just crazy thinking we heard the voice of God when we didn’t. We begin to question not only His promise to us, but we begin to question His faithfulness as well.
This is where the word rest needs to come into our vocabulary. Put this word into your fanny pack, your hiking gear and pull it out every time you find yourself questioning the path you are on. Use this word to help you find the Son again so that you can regain your bearings and get back to enjoying the abundance of the greatest hike of your life.
Rest does not just mean sleep or slumber, or relaxing from activity. It means more than just ceasing from our works. It also can mean to be at peace. There is a place, a rest offered to each and every one of us as we travel on our paths of this life; a peace and a rest in the truth of His word to us. If you do not have peace in your heart about the steps that you are currently taking, then most likely, you are probably no longer on the right trail, you took a turn God did not want you to take. We know we are on the right path because there is a peace that dwells in us, a rest from worry and fear for what is to come. There is a hope and a knowing that God will take care of every obstacle, every mountain that comes our way, all we have to do is keep our eyes on the Son and follow His lead. If you do not have peace in your heart about the steps that you are taking then go and seek the Lord your God and find out if this is really the path for you. He will always provide rest for the journey He places you on.
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,” (Hebrews 3:7) The voice of God spoke to your heart and put your feet on this path. There was a peace at the beginning of this journey, and He will give you peace the rest of the way. “His voice is able to guide us into the paths He intends for us. The struggle Christians are engaged in is not that of finding their way through life but of entering that rest. That is, to be responsive to the Lord and let His Word and Spirit guide them to the solutions He has already provided for their problems.” (Richard’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, pg. 526 Zondervan, 1985).
We are going to get discouraged, we are going to forget where we are going, we are even going to question the path that we are on, but we must never lose sight of the hope of the promise we have in Him. Life is going to try to knock us down; this path is going to take diligence, dedication and determination, because there will be mountains ahead. The enemy is going to seek to discourage us, but we must not lose hope. Find the Son, and find the rest, the peace that God has given you for this journey. We do not need to panic, nor worry, nor fret about anything that comes our way. If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) If God said He would do it, He will do it. There is nothing on this earth surer, or more powerful, or more fulfilling than His Word to us. Rest in His promise to you and trust in the sure knowledge that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ, (Philippians 1:6), and know that you will reach your Canaan too one day. May the Lord God bless His word and may you be encouraged to keep pressing forward in the hope of His promise which He will fulfill in you. In Jesus name, forever and ever amen and amen.