For the Rest of Your Life
“You’re going to have to wear these the rest of your life.”
“You’re gonna have to take this medicine the rest of your life.”
“You’re gonna have to do this the rest of your life.”
These are words I’ve been hearing more and more lately as I age.
What do you do with that? My first response is irritation and resentment. I don’t like the idea of other people imposing restrictions on me…even if they help me have quality of life. No one means anything negative by doing it; it just FEELS restrictive. If feels restrictive…because it IS restrictive.
Fact is, every stage of our lives involves change as we move from one stage to another. Babies are helpless. Then they become less helpless. Then they try to dress themselves – and on and on it goes.
At each stage there are restrictions which are recognized as the need arises. For instance, we never have to tell a newborn he can’t run out into the street because he’s not running anywhere…YET. Later in his development, he will need that restriction. When it comes…ha ha…he will be irritated and will resent it! Just like I resent my current limitations.
This is how life goes. Well, its PART of how life goes. There IS more to life than the restrictions. There are freedoms as well which are unique to each stage of life.
There was a point where I had grown enough and shown enough trustworthiness that my parents gave me the freedom to ride my bike anywhere in our area I wanted. At that time, I had both freedom and restrictions.
In fact, its always that way. We always have healthy limits to our freedoms.
It is that way with our lives in Christ.
God gives us freedom:
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Right there we have a freedom expressed AND a restriction. Why does God do that? Because He loves us and knows what’s best for us.
For that matter, why has God allowed me to be at a place in my life (mid-60’s) in which He allows other people to say things like this to me?
"You’re going to have to wear these the rest of your life.” “You’re gonna have to take this medicine the rest of your life.” “You’re gonna have to do this the rest of your life.” “You can’t pick up heavy things like you used to.” “You can’t (or you have to) _______ the rest of your life.”
Why does the Father allow that? Same reason: because He loves us and knows what’s best for us.
I wrote the first 4 lines of this piece a couple of months ago and I wrote them in resentment. Then, I let the piece sit while the Lord did His work in me. I’ve decided to embrace this stage of my life for as long as it lasts…and, who knows, there may be another earthly stage after this one. We shall see.
At any rate, I know God is sovereign and holds me in the palm of His hand.
“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13-16)
He has ordained that I be the age I am now and He has always and forever known the restrictions and freedoms which go with it. While I am free to complain about the restrictions, those are really for my benefit. The way I see it, honoring those helps me to stay around longer to irritate the devil.
I’ve chosen to be content within my restrictions, so that I might more fully enjoy and practice the freedoms of this stage of my life. I hope this will become my norm as I continue to live…for the rest of my life.
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” (Philippians 4:11b)
Not that I might not be irritated at times with the restrictions; but that, each time, God will bring me back to contentment.
While meditating on the idea of “the rest of my life” the Lord reminded me of a way that I can approach this a different way and truly experience “THE REST OF MY LIFE”.
“There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)
We spend so much time striving in our lives. This is a flesh thing in which we try to provide for ourselves and protect ourselves as if it was all up to us. However, the truth is that Father God wants to do those things for all Christians. We’re not to be passive in that but must always keep in mind that our part is to allow Him to do so, resisting the temptation to block His grace and exclude Him from the process.
This leaves us exhausted and is, really, the root of my irritation and resentment toward the restrictions in my life as I’ve moved through its various stages. It all amounts to resisting HIS sovereignty in my life.
There IS a better way – which involved ceasing from my own works and enjoying His work in my life. This means ignoring that thing in us which panics and insists its all up to us. That causes us to miss a deep sort of restfulness which can be, using this term in a totally different way, “the REST of our lives”!
“For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4:10)
I’m hoping as time goes on that I always keep this in mind. The Father doesn’t want us to live exhausted and disheartened because we lack His all-powerfulness but try to be Him in our own lives. He wants to carry our burdens and said so quite clearly:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
The Greek words for “rest” in Hebrews 4:10 and Matthew 11:28-29 are different but very closely related. They both have to do with living with God in such a way that we accomplish the same things we do when we strive to do them in our own strength, but now can do so in repose…from a stance of relaxation.
It occurs to me as I write this that I CAME to Jesus many years ago and He instantly GAVE me His rest. However, I haven’t always taken His yoke…haven’t always let Him take the lead and carry the burden. THAT’S why I didn’t always find rest for my soul.
Perhaps that is what He is teaching me as I move into and through the current stage of my life. Maybe that contentment I am experiencing comes from finally allowing Him to rule this season of my life.
How about you? What is happening in your heart in whatever stage of life you happen to be experiencing now?
It is my hope that what was written here will encourage others to experience “the REST of their lives” by submitting to the Lord in this way.
May YOU enter HIS rest and remain there…the rest of your days.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© June 15, 2022
(for use with permission)