We are transformed as we gaze upon the beauty and glory of God. Paul put it this way, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
This occurs as we cease from our striving and rest in the unconditional love of Christ and as a result our soul begins to be nourished and restored. It is only then that we can experience a worth that attaches God’s acceptance of us as we are that genuine growth “from the inside out” can occur.
What our souls need more than anything else is rest. Maybe you are wounded because of our sin, weary because you have been too busy, or hungry because you have been trying to find your source of life in other things than God. Our own efforts to make ourselves better will be of no help. In fact our own efforts actually reinforce the problem.
The primary way this pattern is broken is by resting in truth. The primary way the hunger of our soul is satisfied is by feasting on spiritual food it was created to enjoy. The primary way the sickness of the soul is cured is by resting in the health and life of its Creator. We grow healthy as we rest, in the midst of all our sickness and wounds, in the unconditional love and acceptance of Christ.
This requires faith in God’s grace. Resting in God does not take work, but it does take faith to trust that your standing before God is not based on works, nice appearance, or hard effort. If you view your “doing” as establishing your right to be in his presence, then you will never rest and you’ll fall short of his glory.
When we rest in Christ with total honesty, we give him a chance to prove to us that he loves us amidst all our sin. We give him a chance to prove to us that he loves us, our eternal souls, not because of our behavior, but in spite of it. And the experience of this unconditional love is the very thing that eventually empowers us and motivates us to get out of our sin. Only when we can rest and experience God’s love as we are can we ever be empowered to genuinely become better than we presently are.
Here are some basic steps that will help you enter God’s rest:
- Find a place of solitude and quiet. This time of rest must be our time with Jesus alone. Carve out a time (maybe 20-30 minutes) and place (where you won’t be interrupted). Some find that setting the atmosphere is helpful, using things like music, dimmed lights or candles.
- Find Your “Inner Sanctuary.” This follows a practice of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Go to a private space in your mind where you can meet with the Lord. For beginners this place is easiest to locate by recalling a place in your memory that is pleasant, serene, and easy to recall vividly. Employ all five of your sense in imagining that place. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? What do you smell? Spend as much time as necessary entering into the scene and feeling its serenity.
- Encounter Jesus. This is the goal of resting in Christ. When we rest, we are opening ourselves up to the Spirit who will lead us into the presence of the living Lord who desires to love us, embrace us, and speak with us in a very personal way. This will look different each time. Sometimes I just sit with Jesus. Sometimes he simply reminds me of all the things that are true about me because of what he’s done for me by dying on the cross. Jesus might tell me of his everlasting love for me. Or he expresses the great joy and delight he has over me. Other times he expresses how at peace he is with me.
Sometimes as I rest in the Lord he will say something unexpected like, “Are you ready for more of my freedom?” And then I find myself with Jesus in a particularly harmful memory of my past. In these times, Jesus wants to set me free from a part of me that has been kept in bondage by a memory. These times can be the most beautiful and transforming.
We are transformed by the “renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:2). This requires not only true information about who you are in Christ, but also routinely experiencing yourself living in this truth. This is what happens when we rest in Jesus.
—Adapted from Seeing is Believing, pages 97-114