“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Jesus – Mathew 11:28 – 30 HCSB
Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell]. – Apostle Paul – Hebrews 4:11 AMP
Sometime around 1989 or 1990, I was walking around in a mall in Fort Worth, Texas. I ran across a display of art called Stereograms. These are the computer generated art that look like a bunch of dots or squiggles on a canvas. In order to see the image hidden in all the dots and squiggles, you had to relax your eyes. As you relaxed, your focus changed from what you think you see, to what is actually there, hidden in plain sight.
After you learn to do this, repeating it seems simple. Well…I had to train myself to do it. Relaxing my eyes was not easy for me. It meant letting go of my visual boundaries in the middle of a mall full of strangers. It also meant letting my mind experience something new, visually, so I can see what I normally would not perceive.
Here is an example of a stereogram. To see the image in the stereogram, look in the center of the picture, and completely relax your eyes, or let them go “unfocused”. The hidden image will pop out. At the bottom of this post, I will tell you what is on the image.
Did you see it?? Spectacular, wasn’t it? If you didn’t see it, please don’t stress out, and don’t stop trying. Learning to relax and see what is right in front of you isn’t always easy. Trust me on this, I have a hard time relaxing, and seeing most of the time.
Keep at it. You WILL see it the second you relax and allow yourself to see. This is an example of striving to rest, or laboring to rest. Unless you relax and allow your eyes to rest on the image, you cannot see it. You have to work at letting go, at seeing things differently than you are used to. Once you DO see, it becomes easier to see. Eventually, your eyes will just know how to do it.
On the surface, this picture looks more like chaos than order. The patters you think you see are mere distractions, leading your perception away from what is hidden right in front of you. Seeing what is really there is actually a volitional act. The mind is conditioned to see and perceive what it accepts as real or truth. To get the eyes to see and perceive what is not easily seen, you have to rest in the ability to see. You have to let go and trust your eyes to do the seeing, without forcing them to filter based on a fear or an opinion.
Once you see what is on the image, you perceive a reality that underlies all the noise. And coherence happens, and the message is understood. But you first have to get beyond the noise to understand the signal. You have to relax and trust. You will see when you do this.
YOUR HEART HAS EYES, TOO.
“[For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ
, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), and [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come.” Letter of Paul to the Ephesians
– Eph. 1:17-21
When you hear a truth, or a lie, your heart knows. You can be in a pitch black room, blindfolded, but when someone lies to you, your heart “gets a catch”. And when someone tells you the truth, your heart resonates to it. You know deep inside when you have been lied to. The depths at which you perceive a lie or the truth is based on how much time you have invested in knowing what is true. When you know what truth sounds like, deep inside, you can spot a lie a mile away. You never have to study lies to recognize one. Your heart knows. That is having eyes in your heart.
The more time you spend learning truth, the better you are at knowing the truth and discerning what a lie is. Perhaps this is why Politicians are so deluded. All they do is study how to lie and deceive. The truth would probably kill them.
The Apostle Paul prayed that the eyes of our heart will be opened so we can see. Jesus also commented on people who have eyes to see but refuse to perceive, and ears to hear, but refuse to understand what is heard. Even His disciples had this problem.
In Mark 8:17-18, Jesus admonished His disciples for being somewhat obtuse:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning and saying it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet discern or understand? Are your hearts in [a settled state of] hardness? [Isa. 6:9, 10; Jer. 5:21.] Having eyes, do you not see [with them], and having ears, do you not hear and perceive and understand the sense of what is said? And do you not remember?'” Amplified Bible
What is it that we need our hearts to see and remember? In the case of the disciples, they had already forgotten that Jesus IS the Bread of Life. They were looking at what appeared more real to them than the very truth that stood in front of them. With God, all things are possible
. The leaven of the Pharisees
was that the Pharisees had taken the will and word of God and added to it until they had developed a life sucking, religious system that enslaved the Jews. Jesus repeatedly told the disciples that he had come here to free mankind from the chains and heavy burdens that religion and the world had put on them.
With carnal eyes, the people heard what they wanted to hear, and ignored the real message of Jesus. The people expected Jesus to overthrow the Romans and restore order to the temple. But that is not the freedom that Jesus was talking about.
A change happens to us when we first become Christians. We see, as if for the very first time, things that are in the scriptures, there were there all along, but were hidden from our understanding. We read the scriptures, and they suddenly made sense. The words were always there, but our ability to perceive them was not. When we became Christians, the eyes of our heart were opened. We SAW the truth in our heart. We understood. Even the world we looked at appeared different. We were seeing and perceiving what God had placed right in front of us. The cares of this world, the temptations of the flesh, the hardness of our hearts were what was keeping us from understanding.
So what happened? Just like what happened in Ephesus, we fall prey to our own vain imaginations, or to a religious system that leads you, ever so gently, back into that darkness from which Christ delivered you. We become burdened with falsehoods, and are told that the hell that appears in front of us is the real reality. That we must work hard, and strive to overcome the world. That God helps those who help themselves. We return to a fallen state (Not loss of salvation, but not allowing the Spirit of God to change you). We then become legalistic and tell people who God is mad at us all, that he is going to get us if we don’t repent from (Fill in the blank, there are millions of single issues religious groups fight over).
The Christ that we first perceived fades into the distant past. Your joy turns into struggle and anger. The place in your heart that was full of life returns to the barren desert that you lived in before Jesus.
“The eye (Of the Heart) is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light.
But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness!” Matthew 6:22-23 Amplified
What makes our eye darkened? Remember what Jesus asked the disciples? “And do you not remember?”
We are in control of what our heart looks at. We are in charge of what we choose to remember, to believe, to hold as being truth. God did not create us to be robots or automatons. We are free to chose our lives, our destinies, our way of being. What we believe is true in our hearts manifests itself in the material world.
When we first believed, our eyes were opened to a beauty, to a love, to a joy we never knew was possible. All that disappeared when we took our “eyes” off Jesus. We can choose to forget whet Christ has accomplished for us, and in us. We can do this simply by choosing to forget how to see what He has accomplished. We return to the way the world tells us to believe. We buy in to a religion that teaches us that WE must work in order to prove ourselves righteous before God. That our efforts, the sweat of our brow is where God will judge us.
WE FORGET WHAT CHRIST ACCOMPLISHED
Jesus Christ did not come here to start a religion. Jesus came here to fulfill all the requirements of the Law and the Prophets. Because all the law did was show mankind that we are not able, on our own ability, to please God, and the Prophets foretold of the Messiah who will come and be slain, Jesus mission on earth was to satisfy the requirement of the law, and manifest what the prophets spoke of. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
Jesus did not come here to judge you. Because He fulfilled the law, you are free from all condemnation. You were set free.
Remember that freedom you felt when you were first saved? You felt it because your heart saw that you were genuinely free, and that all the ability of God was given to you.
Religion is a man-made structure that uses guilt, fear, and condemnation to drive you to do what it wants done. Religion, just as in Jesus’ day, robs us of our joy, our hope and our freedom in Christ. Religion exists only to serve itself, but blames its falsehoods on Jesus and the Bible.
Jesus came to restore a loving relationship between God and Man. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, he didn’t just die FOR our sins, although that is what happened, Jesus BECAME all sin, for all time. He WAS sin. And God, in fulfilment of the requirements of the Law, poured all His wrath on Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the law. Jesus alone did this. God abandoned Jesus on the cross for this to happen. Fellowship between God and Christ was broken. This is why we hear Jesus shout, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” This was prophesied by Isaiah, and is the fulfillment of the prophesy that the lamb of God will be slain for the redemption of mankind. When Jesus became sin, he and he alone took on, absorbed, and suffered the entire and full wrath of God. When that was accomplished, Jesus said, “It is finished”.
WHAT WAS FINISHED?
Your death was finished. When you accepted this free gift of Jesus’s death on the cross, you accepted life, forgiveness, and eternity. You accepted that Jesus, and He alone took on your judgement so you can receive His blessing, eternal life. When Jesus rose from the dead, He proved he and he alone has power over death, too. When you believed that Jesus was your sacrifice, in your place, and you believed he rose again, you rose with him. You rose in new life with him because you were dead and buried with him on the cross. All sin leads to death. Jesus died. All sin is dead now.
Jesus did what no other human could do. Because he was without sin, and the law required a sacrifice of a completely sinless being for the remission of death, he became all of humanities sin for all time.
LABORING TO REST
In order for me to be free from my hyper-Calvinistic mind-set, and be free from religion, and have a real relationship with the Living God because of Jesus, I had to completely understand what happened on the cross and at the resurrection.
The picture was right in front of me the whole time. I just had forgotten to see it. I became first religious, then returned to a fallen state, as if I were never a Christian. When I tried to return to that Joy, I did it my own way based on the religious constructs I learned at the teachings of the denomination I was raised in. It was all works
Praying was an effort, a labor not built on love. It was, frankly, a drudgery.
The Bible had become foreign to me, but I read it anyway. It was a lot like eating dust.
Forget witnessing. I was all fire and damnation and fear and manipulation. You cannot give a love that is not in your heart to give.
I had forgotten Christ’s complete work. I was trying to recreate the love of God by my own efforts. I was trying by the will of my flesh to be pleasing to God. It was as if I were telling God that the sacrifice and Resurrection of Christ was not good enough, or complete enough, that I had to do something myself, on my own volition, by my power, to assure my salvation. It was all work, and no play.
Laboring in to the rest of Christ sounds like a contradiction. It isn’t. If you want to walk in Christ, like Christ, after Christ, you first have to learn to rest in His completed work. There is no other way to do it. None. Believe me, I tried.
What does this mean, “Labor to rest”? Remember the stereogram above? The first time you try to see the hidden images, you have to work at relaxing your eyes so you can see. You have to rest your eyes. You have to relax. You have to allow the image to form without your physically forcing your eyes to work. This is the opposite of observing. We observe for information, but we see in order to know. In order to see the image, we first have to rest.
When I put forth my very best effort at Christ likeness, the effort at maintaining it is exhausting. When I try to be “sinless” I sin. When I try to love on my own power, I either pervert it, or turn it into hate. There really is a very fine line between Human love and Human hate. When I give to others by my own will, I always, eventually, want recognition for it, or expect something in return. In other words, my efforts lead only to my own glorification and limited ability.
THE LABOR IS TO REMEMBER, AND REMEMBERING LEADS TO COMMUNION AND HARMONY WITH GOD.
My labor to rest is to get my ego out of the way. My labor is to allow the complete work of Jesus to exist in my heart. My labor is to recall constantly what Jesus accomplished for me, and to rest in it, so that the Spirit of God will make Christ manifest in my life. This resting is so others will be led to life, salvation, back to God, through Jesus Christ.
Not My Will, But Thine
Getting my ego, my self, my flesh, my will, my desires out of my way is my labor. This is a volitional act. My ego does not want to die, either. It has been running my life for over 50 years. Death to self is the last thing my mind and ego want. But I have to die to self in order to rest in the completed work of Christ. This means, as a volitional act, I choose to die. I do this when I accept the truth of what Christ did at His death Burial and resurrection.
It is His will that I accept this free gift, unadulterated by the cares of this world, or by a religious system made by mankind. There is nothing I can do to add to or take away from His gift. I can alter how I see and rest in it, but I cannot change it, or how it applies to my life. In order for me to do this accepting, I have to struggle with my ego and lead it to its death. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit works in me to do this, too. All I have to do is surrender to it.
Death to self is frightening at first, but painless, and brings such joy as I have never believed was possible.
In dying to self, and relaxing, or resting in the complete work of Christ, I am able to see clearly what is in front of me. I see with new eyes. God was hidden in plain sight the whole time. As my old self dies, more of God is revealed in my heart. That is when I know that:
I am saved
I am a Son of God
I am full of the Holy Spirit
I am free from sin (The deisres of sin have become meaningless compared to the love and joy of Christ)
I am not a slave to sin, but to righteousness.
I am a new creation
I am more than a conqueror
I am the righteousness of God in Christ
I am crucified with Christ
I am justified before God by faith in Christ
I am God’s workmanship
I am hid in Christ
I am saved by Grace
I am an Heir of God
I am a joint Heir with Jesus
I am accepted in the Beloved
I am at peace with God.
The world teaches fear, slavery, and doubt. You are in the chains of the world if you chose. Religion only wants what it wants, and will use any means necessary to accomplish its means, even use the name of Jesus to justify its’ selfish lusts.
The freedom you have is standing right in front of you if you will simply labor to rest in the completed work of Christ Jesus. All the promises of God are already yours. You cannot earn them, you cannot make yourself righteous, you cannot be a slave to the world or a religion and still be free to rest in the Lord.
All you have to do is understand what transpired on the Cross and at the resurrection, and rest in that. Then the hidden things of God will appear to you as bright as the sun on a spring morning. You will have new eyes to see and new ears to hear the mysteries of the Living God, who is heaping His love and goods on you. All you have to do is relax in the finished work of Christ.
The image above has Christ on the cross, the two who were hanging on the crosses next to Him, and a Roman soldier getting ready to pierce Jesus’ side.
Let’s be about it.
I love you
David G. Perkins