abiding in Christ, death, discerning the spirits, eternal life, experience, joy, Lily, our cat, rest, resurrection power, soul, Soul Rest, T. Austin-Sparks, The Holy Spirit, the whole armour of God, walking by the spirit
This title I chose seems to be self-explaining because we could also say that our soul finds its rest in Christ alone. Does not sound like a secret, does it? But if we, after decades of believing in the Lord, have not entered His rest yet although we always wanted to, maybe, it is not that easy to get there? Perhaps there is ‘something’ that continually keeps us from entering God’s rest. But what could this ‘something’ be? 🙄 Before expounding a bit more on what I just hinted to, I want to share another experience with you.
On that day when I took these three similar pictures I posted on here, I had some strange experiences. It was last Thursday when I was riding my bike just before sunset. Behind these five trees which cover the sundown there was a scenic little village I had just left behind me. I really love to leave our city and to ride through the countryside, to see and hear the cows mooing in the half-opened sheds, and to listen to some clucking chickens together with a few crowing roosters behind the fences.
Basically, I do not like fences that much, but sometimes they make sense. The street I had been riding on was the main road leading through this village. Both the cows and the poultry were thus protected from the through traffic. In another village before this one I had already stopped my bike right beside an insistently meowing gray striped cat. When she crossed the street, she suddenly stood there still in the middle, continously meowing toward me. Having concerns about her being run over by an approaching car, I told here to leave the street quickly. Hesitatingly she finally did.
Reaching the other village I wrote about before, I had almost forgotten about that cat. As I was riding on the main road uphill, a big tractor suddenly left a shed to my right and rushed down this road on my left. ‘Yikes!’ I thought, ‘If I lived here, I would never want to have a cat of my own. It is too dangerous here.’ I had not even thought this right through to the end, as I glimpsed a peculiar scenery. On the sidewalk to my right side, about 200 meters uphill before me, there were two women and a girl standing. I could not hear what they were talking about, but I had an immediate impression of deep spiritual peace. On their right side under a maple tree (as far as I remember) there was a darker spot lying on many colorful leaves. Even before I saw what was lying there, I ‘knew’ what it was.
I stopped my bike and told these women how sorry I was, seeing this beautiful young but deceased cat. She was colored white, red and black, lying there as if she was sleeping peacefully. As I heard that this cat did not belong to any of these persons, I shared my impression of peace regarding the cat. Yet one of these women shook her head, telling me that it had been anything but peaceful when this cat was killed. I knew what she was talking about as our soul is always shocked when we hear sudden cries of anguish.
However, that is only one side of the coin. On the spiritual side, which is eternal life and resurrection power in Christ, there can be instead peace and joy. I experienced the same thing when our beloved cat Lily died on 3rd September this year. She had suffered for six days and nights (and we as a family as well) until we saw her very last breath. As much as we have missed her, we were relieved her suffering was eventually over. And as a particular spiritual blessing from God, He let me bathe in the joy of His Resurrection for one whole day afterwards! Indeed, it was like walking on cloud nine… 🕊️🙏🏼🤍
Back to my original story. Shortly after I had said goodbye to these women and the girl, I turned around a corner where the last few houses of this village were located. Still pondering on what had just happened, I got aware of a huge gray cat sculpture in one of the gardens to my right. That stony cat was sitting up straight, staring into nirvana like an exclamation mark as it seemed to me. ‘Not that inviting’, I thought, wondering about the message God wanted to tell me here… 🙄 It was only on Monday when I felt nudged to repeat this specific bike route. And then I detected a smaller cat sculpture of the same kind in another garden of the same village…
I had to wait on the interpretation of this message from God for another 20 hours. On Tuesday I was so exhausted after a long day and had no inspiration to keep writing this post. I even deleted a lot. But then I felt I needed to spend some personal time with the Lord in prayer and left the computer. The inspiration came effortlessly as He had promised before as soon as my soul had found its rest in Him again. So, here we are.
Fences around a garden or another area represent at least two things. At first a fence symbolizes a sign that says, “Do not trespass. This is not your property unless you are the owner.” This is the meaning for everyone who is standing on the outside, looking into such a ‘guarded’ territory. But if you are on the other side of the fence, you enjoy a sort of protection against unwelcome intruders.
This is exactly what I have experienced lately so often. If I stay close to Christ and follow His leading, I am somehow protected by the whole armor of God which is available to me through His permanent guidance. I do not see what He sees, specifically, I do not know from where and when I am being attacked. But if I abode in Him, all spiritual resources were at my disposal and He warned me when there was danger ahead of me. However, whenever I was not that sure about His leading and kept doing or saying things from my old soulish habits, I did not have to wait for a long time until I was attacked severely, painfully, and without any premonition by the Holy Spirit.
You could easily compare our spiritual situation with that of protected animals in sheds or behind fences. The lively cat was killed outside of a protected garden or area. In contrast, those stony cats would not even need any protection through a fence as they are already ‘dead’. They look like cats but they never breathe, they never move, and they will never grow. You cannot have a relationship with them, either, as they neither have a spirit nor a living soul. You can only look at them and tell whether you like their appearance or not. Regarding these lifeless cats, the Lord just reminded me of the following Scripture.
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Rev 3:1-3)
God’s leading is never predictable and so I was really astonished about these Bible verses above. They reminded me of Jesus when He blamed the Pharisees who were merely looking good on the outside. But alas, they did all their religious works in order to be seen by others, to be praised, and to be admired. Yet internally they were dead as they did not seek a living relationship with God in Christ who alone is our Life and rest. Therefore, our Lord gave us the following promise.
“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.” (Mt 11:28-30 ESV)
Below I offer you another excerpt by T. Austin-Sparks which even begins with a personal confession. His words here also emphasize the importance of our closeness to the Lord’s heart.
“I used to attend conferences, and always did so with my congregation in view, to get my notebook full of things that I could take back to my own people. So all the while I had my responsibility with me, I had my congregation in view, my ministry, my work, I never got away from it. Every book I read, and every address I listened to, and everything in life was to pass on to others, for my work’s sake, and my own heart was starved. I was not growing in a knowledge of the Lord Himself. That sort of thing is all wrong.
“That is why we said at the beginning that the first thing is our spiritual relationship with the Lord. Everything else comes out of that. Do we want light? Do we want revelation? What do we want it for? Do we want it for ministry, for public purposes? Or do we want it that the Lord may be able to have His testimony in us as well as in others through us, that the Lord may be glorified? That kind of light and revelation comes out of our own heart fellowship with the Lord, out of a spiritual position, our personal communion with the Lord, our own enjoyment of the Lord. It must come out of our walk with the Lord, otherwise it is simply something that we are using. We might just as well go to a shop and get something to read to other people. It is not ours, it never came to us, it does not belong to us. All the light that others receive through us must come by our own walk with the Lord, out of our own spiritual lives. The same relates to everything else; our ministry, our service, our work for the Lord. It must not be some system of activity into which we have come. It must be proceeding from our walk with the Lord.
“Everything must come out of our knowledge of the Lord, everything must come out of our walk with the Lord, but if we have entered into rest, if we have come into Christ as God’s fulness, for us things will be different, much more can be done, and it will be done without the strain and burden, the care and the anxiety that work costs when it is done as out from ourselves. This glorious, full, blessed Christ, with all knowledge, strength, wisdom and grace is in us. We are in Him, but faith must hold fast to Him, must abide in Him, must take Him and draw upon Him every moment, and there must be no coming out to draw upon ourselves, to put forth our own energies of any kind, to assert ourselves in mind, heart, or will, spirit, soul or body. It must be Christ, and we must abide in Christ.“
All images © Susanne Schuberth 2021