Finding God’s rest

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Helping kids understand who they are in Christ

by J.L. Martin

 

Remember the Kit Kat candy bar theme song? "Gimme a break, Gimme a break…"

This time of year, many of us are thinking about or are planning spring break trips. Schools and colleges provide students with a break from the routine to help them finish the year strong.

As I think about why we have spring break, I am reminded that parents need a break too. Your children are ready for a brain break. Mom, do you need a day away? Dad, is it time to take some days off from work?

Jesus talks about another kind of “break” when he says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30, ESV).

Mom, dad, child, are you experiencing rest for your souls and a light burden? Often we Christians are so busy trying to be good because we don't want to disappoint God. This can cause exhaustion or burnout. We need to give ourselves a break, and one way is through experiencing God's rest.

How can we experience God’s rest? By trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because of Jesus, we are fully loved, accepted, redeemed and righteous. This is not based on what we do but on what Christ has done. Since we are loved, accepted and righteous, we do not need to spend time trying to make God love, accept or be proud of us. He already does because of Jesus.

One of the ways we parents can help reinforce this idea of rest with our kids is to remind them of who they are in Christ. We need to teach them who God says they are from His Word. The apostle Paul tells the church in Ephesus who they are before he tells them what to do. Every night at bedtime with all four of my kids, I remind them who they are in Christ from Ephesians 1 and other passages. I offer a daily bedtime blessing over my kids, saying, “Mitchell (Mackenzie, Megan, Molly), you are blessed, chosen, holy, blameless, loved, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, an inheritance, sealed by the Holy Spirit, fearfully and wonderfully made, gifted. Use your gifts to glorify God. May you grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. Amen.”

When John of Kronstadt, a 19th century Russian Orthodox priest, found people living in sin, he said, “This is beneath your dignity. You were meant to house the fullness of God.” So when my children make a bad decision or disobey, I remind them that this is not who they are and encourage them instead to live out their identity in Christ.

I encourage all of us to remember what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. And remember to take a break because we understand who we are in Christ. Stop striving to make God love you. He already does! As we understand who God is and who we are in Christ, we can experience the rest Jesus describes and the freedom to love God and others.

J.L. Martins is pastor of children and families at Hesston (Kan.) MB Church. Visit Martins’ blog, daddy4ms.blogspot.com, for more about our identity in Christ.

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