I love when I’m reading something that helps me make a connection in Scripture that I’ve never seen before. Today’s connection is thanks to — you guessed it — The Rest of God. This book seemed like the perfect fit for the waning hours of a snow day.
The book points out that a Sabbath mentality is rooted in a proper view of God, particularly his sovereignty because when we trust God with the details of our lives, we can relinquish our misguided and frantic efforts to control the details and rest in knowing that he is in control.
The focal biblical character is Peter, starring in two separate passages that have fascinated me for some time. It turns out these two passages are stunning if they are read side by side.
In Luke 22 Peter makes his bold claim: “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (33). Instead, Peter slinks into a courtyard after Jesus is arrested. Peter denies Jesus three times even cursing as he does it. Maybe it’s just me, but the line: “The Lord turned and looked at Peter,” makes me get a little dull ache in my chest to think about what Peter had to experience in that moment. To know that he had just let down the one person that meant the most in the world to him (not to mention the fact that this person is God) and to have Jesus look right at him — what could Peter do besides run away weeping bitterly?
In Acts 4, Peter is the one who gets arrested. Verse 13 is one of my favorite verses in the chapter — one of those I’ve-read-this-so-many-times-before verses. It says, “Now as they [those making the arrest] observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.” What an amazing distinguishing factor, to be confident and to have it be attributed to a connection with Jesus. But, this is Peter! This is the man who couldn’t disassociate himself from Jesus fast enough before. Peter’s story gives me hope when I fail.
And, Buchanan’s argument is that Peter’s story is possible because he was able to recognize God as sovereign. A prayer starts in Acts 24:4 with believers acknowledging that God, on the night Peter was cowering by a fire in a dark courtyard, was actually guiding individuals to do what he “predestined to occur” (28). Then, these believers pray for more confidence — only after spending time acknowledging who God is.
Buchanan says, “Are you in the midst of a situation where, as you pray, you find yourself putting the problem first? If so, you’re starting where you should end. You’re rehearsing the problem, making it seem larger than it is, when what you need to do is rehearse God’s greatness…”
He also says, “That’s the first orientation for good Sabbath-keeping, the Godward one. It is to practice, mostly through thankfulness, the presence of God until you are utterly convinced of his goodness and sovereignty, until he’s bigger, and you find your rest in him alone.”