Right now I am having a pretty uncanny experience. It's Divine...a bonafide confirmation that I have heard from God in the past couple of days. And it has everything to do with Hebrews 4. Let me explain.
Last night, I sent an email to some of the leaders at PCC - specifically the Steering Team - and shared with them some of the anxiety I'm having on my study break. I'd like to share wiht you a piece of what I said:
"Just a quick note to say I'm still alive. It's starting to feel a little painful on my end to be gone for so long with no gear-up in sight. This is an important part of the process for me, though. I start to get a little scared about PCC - attendance is dismal, etc. - and I want to come rescue the church. But then I remember...this is not my church. PCC belongs to God. He can handle the ups and downs and manage just fine without me. And He can do whatever He wants with it anyway. So, being away from weekends for a few weeks is healthy for me and I'm convinced it's healthy for our church. But that doesn't make it easy..."
Then I went on to share what I had accomplished so far on my study break and what I still hoped to accomplish in the next 2 weeks.
So, today I opened Hebrews 4 and, though I had read it many times, the words jumped off of the page.
Hebrews 4:1-2 "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard it did not combine it with faith."
Now the Writer here goes on to use the Sabbath as a word picture to represent something larger. (read the rest of the chapter). He's talking about relying on yourself and your own effort vs. relying on God and His. He's saying that the truth about God is THE Truth, regardless of whether you believe it or not. However, that Truth is only a benefit to your life if you receive that Truth with faith and allow the Truth to direct every part of your life.
So, some heard the Gospel, but they didn't receive it on faith. Therefore the Good News (which is what 'Gospel' means) was of no value to them. Instead, they insisted on doing things their own way, in their own strength, relying on their own effort.
Sort of like I do sometimes when I feel the need to rescue the church. Or my family. Or some problem or challenge.
You see, the Writer here takes a moment to refer to the Sabbath to make a point: It's really not about our effort. It's not about how strong we are, how educated, how fit, smart, trained, experienced, well read or prepared. Of course, these are all good things. I'm certainly not arguing that we don't give our best to the church, our employer, family, etc. But at the end of the day, we don't enter the rest God promises until we acknowledge and accept the Power God promises. It's not about me. Or you. It's about what only God can do.