Resting has different connotations to each of us, and those varying meanings often reflect the current circumstances of our lives. Stopping alongside Bear Creek, near our mountain cabin, I often roll down the Jeep window and just look down the creek. My harried mind slows, and I experience rest. As I’ve studied Hebrews through Lent this year, the topic of rest surfaces often. Then I heard a sermon last Sunday that mentioned “resting in the cauldron” and “resting in idols.” That got me thinking about the difference types of rest.
Before I reached the age of 16, I had spent 18 months of my life in hospital beds. Since those long orthopedic recoveries of the 50s and 60s, I’ve re-visited hospitals for two more spinal fusions and some other stays of shorter duration. I have tasted a bit of pain in this life; it exemplifies the cauldron of suffering.
A very familiar text from John’s gospel (John 16:33) tells us, “I [Jesus] have said these things to you that in me you may peace. In the world you will have tribulation ( trouble in NIV; continue to experience difficulties in The Message). But take heart; I have overcome the world.” If you read the context of this verse that instructs the disciples to “have peace,” you realize that Jesus has just told them they will all scatter and leave Him alone and at the hands of vacillating, no back-bone rulers, a mindless mob, and cruel, taunting soldiers.
Jesus goes on to instruct His followers, meaning all who would ever follow Him, that in Him they would have peace. (bold mine) The peace spoken of here is directly linked to Jesus Christ. If one can find rest in the cauldron, it lies in a peace that has no connection to beauty, brains, brawn, or brute force. Dealing with trials, tribulations, and difficulties comes as part of this fallen world. Yet, by His death and resurrection, He would, and has, overcome the world.
Despite the anguish we face in this world, resting in the cauldron of pain is temporary. The apostle Paul, writing from his life story of incarcerations, ship wrecks, beatings with rods, receiving 39 lashes, going cold and hungry, choses to describe his miserable conditions this way: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” 2 Cor.4:17
While resting in cauldrons of pain and discomfort that abound in this world, we struggle to catch the mustard seed vision of the “weight of glory” Paul describes. Instead, we can all too easily rest in idols — like food…
… or possessions, status, money. These things are not wrong if used as God directs, but they can make us so comfortable that we do not hear God’s voice. As much as I treasure our family, I do not want to morph them into idols of my heart. For I know that while resting in the cauldron is temporary, resting in idols is deceptive and can lead to destruction. From childhood on (see photo below), I have continued to ask the Lord to keep me balanced between the things of God and the things of man. How’s your balance?