So the other day I was reading Hebrews 4 and came across this verse;
“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
I didn’t think much of it at first but then the Holy Spirit spoke loudly to me and has had me thinking deeply about it since.
As you know every word in the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit – nothing’s just there haphazardly. But I couldn’t help but feel like those words “every effort” were a little daunting. Every time I read this verse, this is exactly what I pictured;
St. Paul did say “every effort to enter that rest”, right?! So surely this is the “every effort” he’s referring to… I have to push the huge boulder that is the world to enter God’s rest… I have to overcome temptation, pride, anger and all the sins that entangle me to enter that rest, and realistically that’s just never going to happen… I have to toil and labour and I should just accept the fact that this spiritual journey is going to be difficult and tiresome… I’m probably going to give up soon and get completely crushed by this boulder which means I’ll never enter His rest. I allowed a chain reaction of these negative thoughts to continue to infest my mind for a while but the Holy Spirit quickly came to my rescue (as He always does!) and lifted me higher so I can view the situation from a bird’s-eye view.
Fast forward to verse 15 in the exact same chapter and it says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15. Wow. Isn’t Jesus just amazing? Our high priest, the King of kings, my Creator the Almighty God empathizes with my weakness. He understands! He gets the struggle I have with sin. Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:18). He’s not asking me to do something that He’s never had to go through – He was tempted too except He completely overcame sin. I’m in awe at the level of humility my Creator must have in order to allow Himself to be tempted by Satan. And not only can He 100% relate to my struggle. Verse 12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…” Hebrews 4:12. He tells me that His word can penetrate absolutely anything, even the filthiest innermost parts of my soul that I’ve successfully hidden from everyone else – yes even those parts! His word is active and has power to terminate once and for all the sin cancers I’ve so willingly allowed to grow in my soul.
I went to liturgy today and the Gospel reading was about our Lord Jesus feeding the four thousand. You know that overwhelming, warm, peaceful feeling that you get when you’re in the presence of the Lord and He whispers sweet words to your soul… yep I got that wonderful feeling through the following verse; “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’” Matthew 15:32. I instantly heard the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear “remember Hebrews 4:11? do you still think that asking you to make every effort to enter My rest is daunting?”. When Jesus saw these people following him for three days straight He had compassion on them. Our God is a God who feels. He didn’t want to send them away hungry so they don’t collapse on the way home – how loving!! He really really cared for the well-being of these people. He knew their needs and out of His sweetness provided them with food that they hadn’t even asked for! …..Then it clicked.
Yes, God does ask me to make every effort to enter His rest… but every effort through Him! Of course the image in my mind was me really struggling to push this giant boulder…I completely took God out of the equation – I removed Jesus from Hebrews 4:11. I thought that I was going to have to struggle on my own so I can reach His rest and forgot that Jesus, my God who loves me abundantly, is walking right beside me through every spiritual struggle. My loving Jesus will look at my effort to walk with Him and straight-away provide me with the nourishment I need so I don’t collapse. I know that He’ll do that because He, being perfect, allowed Himself to be tempted by Satan – He empathizes with my weakness and knows that I need His support. I’m not on my own, I simply need to run into the arms of Love. And in those arms I discover His word that is alive and active, able to penetrate my soul and rid me of my sin.
I’m not making every effort by myself. I’m making every effort through my God’s power.
Now there’s a new image engraved in my mind;
“The Lord will fulfil his purpose for me; your love, Lord, endures forever..”