Christ comes to reawaken us to our true nature. – John Philip Newell
No Rest For The Wicked – The Rest Series – Part 7
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There’s no rest for the wicked.”
The phrase originated from the scriptures. Isaiah 57:20-12 (NIV), “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.””
Over the centuries, the phrase has been used to describe eternal torment, what life is like without God; to its more modern connotation of the wicked having to work harder than the righteous.
We’ve overcomplicated the meaning of the word “wicked.” We use it to describe the evil and the obscene. We put people in the “wicked” category. And in extreme cases, people as being those who don't believe in God have been ascribed the title.
In its original form, the word means “to twist.” And in Hebrew, it means to “make wrong by twisting.” Twisted. It's where we get “wicker” from, and it's used to describe the weaving of a basket. A “wicker” basket.
It’s easy to become twisted away from our true sense of value.
It’s easy to twist away from the belief that everyone is valuable, regardless of their contribution.
Sometimes we get twisted up with grief, pain, and hurt.
Sometimes abuse twists our sense of freedom and belonging.
Twisted doesn’t just mean, “evil” or vile or heinous.
Any slight movement away from the transcendent truth is a twist away from peace.
In Ancient Hebrew tradition, the word “eternal” didn’t describe the realm where heaven is, the place we go when we die. It described a present form of living in shalom, the peace of God. The kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Here and Now. When we live in harmony with God, there is a peace that transcends time and space and circumstance and to-do-lists. To depart from that Shalom, in any form, was what the Ancient Hebrews considered sin to be.
There is no peace, no rest for the soul, for those who live trying to earn their approval; who try to prove themselves worthy through success; who amass wealth for selfish gain; who feel as though they do not belong; who are plagued by anxieties and fears; who live for revenge; who hate and take and are greedy and lustful.
There is no rest for those who believe that when they make enough money, or do enough good, or buy a bigger house, or become rich and famous, they’ll finally be able to breathe… because these twisted thirsts cannot be quenched. They can only be soothed by returning to that peace, that shalom, the rest of God. We live in the tension between these two states of being. But the point is to return to peace, rather than depart from it.
In his book, “Christ of the Celts,” John Philip Newell said:
“[Christ] witnesses to the truth of who we are… (and goes on to say)… Christ comes to reawaken us to our true nature. He is our epiphany. He comes to show us the face of God. He comes to show us also our face, the true face of the human soul… (and continues…) Grace is opposed not to what is deepest in us, but to what is false in us. It is given to restore us to the core of our being and to free us from the unnaturalness of what we are doing to one another and to the earth.” (Pg 29, and 30).
A return to your true self, in the heart of God, the center of the divine. That is a rest that transcends our eating and sleeping, our resting and working, our success and our failure, our heartache and worry, our pain and grief. A rest that carries us – a grace – through it all.