Like Justin Earley, spiritual and physical rest elude us.
Justin Earley had the perfect life. He graduated top of his class at Georgetown Law before landing the perfect job in a prestigious law firm in Richmond, Virginia. The son of a former Virginia Attorney General who was President and CEO of Prison Fellowship, Justin’s personal and professional expectations were always exceptional.
He also had high spiritual goals. He served as a missionary to China along with his wife, Lauren, for a number of years before studying law. With an impressive past and reputation to match, Justin describes how his walk as a Christian began to disintegrate.
After working in his new position, he found himself waking in the middle of night to a cold sweat, panicking and with a deep sense of dread. This nightly pattern continued. Eventually, he sought medical help only to be informed by doctors that nothing was wrong. But something was drastically wrong!
He self-medicated and drank for a season with little benefits. He had made a clear profession of faith, but did not think or live as someone who rested in Jesus Christ. Spiritual and physical rest eluded him. He was not healthy.
Was it possible that his true focus of worship was not Christ? Was he really trusting in himself; his accomplishments; his position?
Some two thousand years ago, a large crowd surrounded Jesus as He rode on the back of a borrowed colt into Jerusalem. It was a picture of humility. Did the people believe in Him? Did they trust Him? In every way they seemed to honor His presence with the words recorded in Mark’s Gospel,
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
The Jewish crowd made a public statement regarding the identity and purpose of Jesus. The watching world would have rightly believed that Jesus was the focus of their worship and lives. Yet we know there was something wrong.
The Jewish leaders objected that the people were bringing such outward honor and demanded that Jesus rebuke His disciples. The Gospel of John notes that even the disciples did not understand what was taking place. Even so, the people of Jerusalem would initiate Jesus' crucifixion only a few days later.
Is it possible that today there are some who outwardly present themselves dedicated to Jesus, publicly joining with others in worship, yet find life absent of rest and peace? Is it possible that to some degree, I am not that much different than Justin Earley? No, I do not wake up in terror and dread. But do I truly find my rest in Christ alone?
Mark 11 is a reminder to stop and seek daily time to ask hard questions regarding my true allegiance and the object of my hope. In what ways do I worship myself, my wisdom, past accomplishments and present position in ministry? Do I long to hear the voice of my Lord? Do I regularly spend time in the Scriptures quietly and attentive? Or do I look at the Scripture from an academic or professional point of view?
My prayer is the following: Lord, help me not only honor you outwardly, but may your Spirit reveal my true self, heart, and focus. Please enable me to rest in you and dedicate the time needed to humbly come into your presence seeking your grace and love. Thank you for the life, death and resurrection of my Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Chuck Garriott is the founder and Executive Director of Ministry to State. He lives in Washington, D.C.