Rest Versus Work

The last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself wrestling with a big question, and it went like this:

The Bible says we are supposed to rest in God. The Bible also says we’re supposed to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and that faith without work is dead. So, how does one know when to rest and when to work? Or is it possible (and practical) to do both at once?

You see, folks, I’m tired. All of my life, I’ve been trying to make everybody happy and been trying to earn the love and acceptance of every single person I meet. (Well, it feels like it anyway.) And I’m tired. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. And yes, spiritually. And so the idea of “working” for God is just exhausting to me. When I have nothing to offer, how can I possibly hope to succeed?

And so, I began wrestling… To rest? Or to work? That is the question.

Slowly – ever so slowly – the dots began to connect.

Starting at John 15.

“Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me.” John 15:5 AMP

When I was a little kid, my parents had grapevines. Not a big ol’ vineyard or anything. Just some grapevines in the back yard. When the grapes were ripe, we’d pick them and eat them. And after the grapes had died off, Mama would take her pruning shears back there, cut off the branches, and twist them into grapevine wreaths. Now those cut off branches were only good for about three things: being burned, being twisted into grapevine wreaths, or being used as switches for the legs of sassy little people. But once they were cut off of the main body of the grapevine, they were never again going to bear grapes. But actually, all the branches did while they were still part of the plant was to be fixture from which the fruit hung. The branches held onto the vine, which held onto the roots. The vine and the roots nourished the fruit. All the branches did was hang out and be the channel between the vine and the fruit. My friend, John Hobbs, says that all a branch does is “hang out and blow in the breeze.” Oversimplification? Maybe. But actually, true.

In Chapter 11 of Bob Sorge’s book, “The Fire of Delayed Answers,” Sorge says, “I’ve wondered, does He want me to go after Him and pursue faith for healing? Or does He want me to back off, chill out, and give myself completely to total relinquishment and absolute surrender?” This makes it sound as though pursuing faith (work) and resting in Him are two opposite actions. But the truth is, they’re really two sides of the same coin.

Rest is really a state of the heart. It’s trusting Him enough to walk through life holding His hand. If my heart isn’t resting in Him, then any work I try to do on His behalf will be a mess. And I believe the same applies in the case of healing. As my heart rests in Him, He will do the work on my behalf and show me the remedies He means for me to take to arrive at that place where I will be healed.

How do you reconcile “rest” and “work”?

This post is part of our weekly book discussion on Sorge’s book, “The Fire of Delayed Answers.” You don’t have to read the book to give us your input! Feel free to comment below. If you have written a response to this week’s chapter, please feel free to link it up at the widget. And make sure to go see my friend and co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen, to see what he has to say. 

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  1. It doesn’t compute to our human brains. Rest and work don’t go together, but in Christ, we work from a place of rest (at least effective work is done that way). Jesus didn’t strive to do what He did. He was connected to the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and consumed with love and compassion. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or everyone will like you, but it’s a beautiful life lived in His presence. More thoughts on rest and work in my post (from a different perspective). 🙂 Thanks Sarah!

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Jason! Good thoughts, both here and yonder! 🙂

  3. Good thoughts Sarah about resting and working especially concerning healing. I have been healed without going to a doctor and I have been healed by going to one and then there are issue I will take to my grave with me. This body is frail and the word is clear on it decaying, it’s our inner man that is not frail. I will have to jump over and see what Jason has to say on this…

  4. There is a tremendous connection between rest and healing of the body. So why wouldnt it apply to the mind, the heart, and the soul? Time out isn’t wasted time — it’s regrouping, refreshing and recharging.

  5. Sarah Salter says:

    Betty, you’re totally right about healing! Thanks for coming by and thanks for sharing! 🙂

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    David, that’s a very good reminder for me, personally. I have a tendency to be unable to rest. If I have a day off, I feel like I have to fill every moment with activity, and that if I don’t, I’m being lazy. Then, later, I wonder why I’m exhausted and burned out. Thanks so much for the reminder and the encouragement it brought with it! 🙂

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