I have often considered the meaning of RIP….rest in peace. I’m curious why that is mainly spoken when someone passes. Is that really the best or only time of peace and rest we can have or look forward to; when we are dead in body and absent in spirit? I don’t believe that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “I leave the gift of peace with you- my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world but my perfect peace.” (John 14:27)
Peace is one of the most powerful concepts in the kingdom. Peace is not equivalent to doing nothing, or being passive and meditative in a tranquil, angelic trance. Peace has a tranquil quality to it and can be a point of meditation but it is far from passive. (And I’m pretty sure there are no passive angels in heaven.) Peace gives us the initiative to walk in courage, to embrace joy, to grow in intimacy with the Lord. From my perspective, peace is foundational and multidimensional. We carry it because we have an intimate relationship with the person called Peace.
Over the past few years, I have completed specific missions God called me to do. One mission was to care for my mom the last years of her life. Another was to serve as a chaplain during a pandemic. These life situations were challenging in very different ways. Walking with my mom during her decline and ultimate passing brought in waves of grief that I could only navigate by His peace. Working as a chaplain built a different nuance of peace as I helped others travel their life storms. His perfect peace, and not the fragile peace the world offers when turmoil ceases, brought me through. His peace prevailed and guided despite chaos. Peace is for us to plug into now while we are in “the land of the living” and so is rest.
As I gained some distance from those weightier places in my life, I naturally thought that it was time to get busy for the next thing; get busy for God. Do kingdom stuff. But when I asked God where He was leading next, I heard rest. And that’s when I realized, I am not very good at resting. I am pretty good at getting exhausted; pushing through; being tough when my body is beat tired; etc…but not so good at resting. When God said rest, it was a game changer because this part of the journey became about developing another dimension of peace.
Rest does have characteristics of ceasing from our work or our labor. (And not only the our paid jobs) as is found in Hebrews 4:10. However, scripture has many references to resting from our heavy burdens, finding rest for our souls (Matt 11:28, Psalm 116:7). I sensed that God was directing me to also plug into His rest in “the land of the living” using the acronym, REST. I want to share what the Lord showed me about REST.
R stands for remember.
Remember who you are; remember whose you are. He is Father, Creator, Savior, Redeemer, Restorer, and Counselor, and Comforter. We are his children, which means He knows us, He created us in His image, He protects us, and guides us. We partner with Him as a people united with Christ through His death and resurrection. He has equipped us to walk with Him despite personal difficulties and world trials. Relax into this knowledge. Remember who you are and who He is; just for a moment.
E stands for experience.
Experience His grace in this moment and for this moment. Grace in the strictest biblical sense is unmerited favor. Unmerited means it is unearned, undeserved. Yet, not only is His grace unearned, undeserved, but so is every other aspect of what He has imparted to us. His love…unmerited; His peace unmerited, His provision unearned, and His courage also unmerited and undeserved. And yet we are saturated in His unmerited favor and all that it carries. Take a moment and think on His grace right now. He is here.
S stands for sit or stand.
Sit/stand in His presence because He is here. Here with me, with you (wherever you might be). Take a breath and let His presence wash over you. Feel your feet on the ground; the weight of your body here, in this place and in His presence. Breathe in His breath. The breath that He gave to Adam at creation continues in all of humanity to this day. Let the physical breath of God fill your lungs, wash over brain and nervous system. Let the breath of Holy Spirit fill your spirit again. He is here; He never leaves us, never turns from us. Sit in His presence…
T is for trust.
Have confidence in Him as you remember who He is and who you are. Say yes and amen, just as He does. Join with me and say, “I believe you.” “I believe you when you say you are my provider, my closest companion, my protector, my savior.”
Trust him and trust who you are in Him.
Sometimes, I have the opportunity to walk though the whole acronym of REST. Sometimes God highlights one thing, like Remember. So I stay and remember, or rehearse, and relax in who He is and who I am. At whatever depth of engagement I have with REST, I walk away with more peace. Peace to walk into uncertainty, as I lean into Him rather than into cultural messages or political instability. So for this season, I will RIP.