I long to rest, and yet I look for it where it can’t be found. I seek damning pleasures to give me rest. Glamorous and glory-seeking idols trap my attention and promise me a good night’s sleep if I only kiss their feet. Success, strength, intelligence, and a thousand other things promise me the world.
These ravishing liars give me no rest. These glitter-covered masquerades only increase my anxiety. These idols are fakes. No true rest comes from an idol.
I’ve been learning that true rest is found in the beauty of God.
In Psalm 27, David says that the one thing he desires from the Lord is “to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). If you read further, you’ll see that it is the beauty of the Lord that gives David rest from the enemies that surround him.
Another Psalmist writes, “splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (Psalm 96:6). Beauty is an element of the sanctuary, and no sanctuary is stressful.
When the beautiful Branch of the Lord brings salvation, Isaiah writes that the Branch brings with him shelter and refuge for all those whose names are written in the book of life (Isaiah 4:1-6). The beauty of the Branch is associated with salvation.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that eternal rest is promised to me (Hebrews 4). I believe that the promise of final rest is secured for me by the blood of Jesus. But I feel my flesh struggle with my spirit daily to steal away this promise.
Something comes up at work, homework takes longer than it should, I can’t get a good night’s sleep… On and on it goes, and I quip to myself, “one day, I’ll have perfect rest in heaven.”
But to be honest, I often yearn more for the absence of tiredness and stress than I do for the presence of Jesus.
The beauty of God brings rest, the Bible assures me of that. I’m certain that God shows his beauty in his Word, his Church, and his Creation. Everything beautiful in this world is so because of the supreme beauty of God.
I love beautiful things, and I suspect you do too. There are not many things more beautiful to me than a sunset or the sound of rain. I feel rested after a walk through the woods, but it’s a false rest if I think the trees, rain, or sun do the work to bring peace to my soul.
“We must remember that all the complexity and beauty in the universe is not meant to terminate on itself but to trace its origin to the Creator.”
It is a holy endeavor to stop and smell the roses so long as the rose is not the ultimate object from whom we seek rest. It is the One who said words to make the rosebud show its face to the world, the One who knows the number of thorns on every bush in the world, the One who designed our noses to be able to smell the sweet fragrance of the flowers- God is the One who brings us true rest.
So seek him out. God is not hard to find, you must only look up to him. Look outside of yourself, away from your idols, and remember that God promises true rest. Seek that rest in the beauty of God himself.