“Real Rest for Our Souls”
Viewpoint of Mark Cadwallader, Creation Moments Board Chairman
The great hymn writer Isaac Watts wrote:
I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise;
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies….
Lord, how Thy wonders are proclaimed where’er I turn my eye;
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.
Our great Creator has left the testimony of His handiwork everywhere for us to see. And it is clear not only in the beauty and grandeur of nature, but in the wonder of humanity – in all our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual capacity. Mankind was created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27).
This is not only a truth from Genesis, but is everywhere throughout the Bible. “For we are His workmanship (Greek “poiema” – artistic masterpieces, “poems”, of His creation) created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Being “created in Christ Jesus” not only includes our original creation as offspring of God’s original image in Adam and Eve, but our being “born again” as new creations through faith in the Living Word, Jesus Christ!
And there is an important balance that develops as we walk in that wonderful status of redeemed creatures, adopted sons and daughters of the Living God. That balance is struck between Labor and Rest. The Bible says that while we are “created… unto good works” and required to work in this life, both as a consequence of sin (Genesis 3:19) and as service and character-training within God’s family, we are simply to enjoy and receive the life, love and illuminating revelation of the Lord!
When Jesus visited the sisters Martha and Mary of Bethany, He made an important point to Martha who was busy and worried about serving the guests and complaining to Jesus that her sister Mary was just sitting at His feet listening to Him. But Jesus told Martha that Mary was doing the “one thing necessary” (Luke 10:38-42). Mary was receiving from the Lord.
In one of the great prophetic chapters of Isaiah, we read: “He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11). We follow the lead of the Good Shepherd, and this means letting Him love us and listening to His voice (John 10:27). The Good Shepherd has wonderful things in store for us and feeds us with the bread of His Life!
The above verse from Isaiah is sung within George Friedrich Handel’s great oratorio Messiah as an alto aria. And it is combined in the oratorio with a soprano aria which sings: “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me … and ye shall find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28). Being in His presence, absorbing His grace and truth, His love and blessing is critical – and can lead to wondrous times of true rest and joy and even rapture!
For example, the story about how Handel wrote the Messiah is an illuminating one in this regard. Handel had received from his pastor friend Charles Jenner a collection of Bible verses for the text of the oratorio, which formed the basis of his inspiration. And he wrote all 260 pages of music to fit those verses in just 24 days – working straight through and barely eating in the process. His assistants would frequently find him moved to tears as he composed – and would often find the meals they brought him uneaten.
We have written before how music is a very special part of God’s creation which especially touches us – emotionally and spiritually. I can certainly see Handel at his harpsichord, coming up with the music, writing it down and listening to how it sounds as he plays it back. Clearly he was deeply touched by the Word and the wonderful worship and praise he was experiencing as he composed! When he completed the “Hallelujah Chorus”, he famously told his servant, with tears in his eyes and overcome with emotion, “I did think that I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne with His company of angels.”
The Bible says that the spiritual transcends the physical. For example, the sin of man (a moral problem) led to a physical marring of God’s creation through disease and death. We are not just a body, according to Scripture, but we have a soul and a spirit, too.
We’ve mentioned previously how material things resolve at their most fundamental level into space and energy/vibration. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), as we have discussed previously for example, can detect the difference between cancer and normal tissue because the relaxation time of excited hydrogen atoms back to their equilibrium vibration is significantly longer in diseased cells than in healthy cells.
So beyond material objects, chemicals and biochemistry, there are vibratory frequencies. Perhaps that’s a reason why music can be so powerful! Beyond the vibrations of creation there is spiritual reality. The material gives way to the im-material. And, thus, through prayer and worship, spiritual songs and meditation on the Word, we can be energized to a refreshing “equilibrium” level of joy and peace and fruit of the Spirit!
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