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Full Text of At Rest
Beginning at 1:10 a.m. Eastern Time on May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden’s body was washed, wrapped in white cotton and then lowered from the deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson by an elevator to sea level. By 2:00 a.m. his lifeless body had been placed in a weighted bag, set on a board, tipped up, and been sent sliding into the North Arabian Sea. The weighted bag drifted downward through the salty waters to rest in the silted sands of the seafloor.
For many this brought a sense of justice, relief, release from fear and a measure of hope for a safer tomorrow. Few found rest and certainty. None of the family members of the nearly 3,000 dead on September 11, 2001, have received their loved ones back. Some whose father’s, husband’s, mother’s or brother’s body was never found still long for that elusive sense of “closure.”
In our quiet moments of reflection we all long for peace, rest and certainty. We would all love to have answers to the questions that burn in our hearts. I can’t give them to you. I can’t promise you the details you crave. But God in His Word, the
Bible, gives His answers to all the essential questions now and a promise to cover the details later.
God presents simply the source of pain and suffering when He says, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). As much as I’d like to distance myself from a man like Osama bin Laden, I must admit to sharing some essential traits with him. Hatred has flashed through my heart and mind. God says “whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:22). He doesn’t say we need to speak or act in anger but simply be angry at something other than an offense to God’s holy character. “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). That would snatch “peace of mind” from anyone honest enough to consider it carefully. Who could find a sense of “rest” or “closure” when they candidly confess to being “not perfect” and know they must face a perfect God and give an accounting for that sin?
Anyone willing to simply accept what God says as true can have joy-filled rest of mind today. We won’t find it inside our hearts, lives, actions, intentions or determination to improve. It’s offered to us in this simple statement made by Jesus Christ: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He personally offers to give rest and a cleared conscience as a gift and not as a reward for reform, positive thinking or self-improvement.
His rest is given, never earned. He gives it because neither you nor I could ever pay for it. The Lord Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserved for my disobedience to God. “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). He offers abundant life, freedom for the conscience and a home with Himself. God couldn’t state the case more clearly than this: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
So what about those who reject the rest for the conscience that God presents as a gift? Any who don’t receive Christ as their Saviour must answer for their own disobedience to God. It won’t matter whether they were buried on land or sea, cremated or mummified, mourned or maligned. “The sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:13). Christ’s work on the cross brings rest to those who come to Him. Others choose to be judged according to their works. Which will it be for you?