My son David recently married “the girl next door” (almost literally), and the reception was at our house. The day before the wedding, my sons and I took an old porch swing from the barn and hung it from a large branch. A few days after the wedding, the branch broke and smashed the swing. The branch had looked solid, but it was rotten.
I am so grateful no one was resting on the swing when that branch broke.
While no one was hurt, the smashed swing caused me consider that one of the greatest risks of all may be where we rest our hearts.
Some of us find rest in success or career. When work goes well, our hearts find peace. But jobs are fragile branches. They cannot bear the weight of our lives.
Some of us find rest in family. When our kids are good or when our spouse loves us, our hearts find peace. But families are fragile branches. Our spouse may die (in fact, will die), and our children will make mistakes, and they too may suffer grave illness or death.
Some of us find rest in ministry. When our talks are loved and our blogs are read and people are converted, our hearts find peace. But ministry is a fragile branch. We can do everything right and not see fruit. Jesus did everything perfectly, and he was murdered.
Jeremiah 17:7 says: Blessed are they who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
I think this verse says it is not enough to merely trust in the Lord. If we stop there, it can in fact be a huge mistake.
What? Isn’t that heresy? Not if we see what Jeremiah is really saying. If we trust in the Lord to obtain what we rest our hearts on, we actually may not trust the Lord. Our hearts may be resting on a rotten branch.
• Successful careers
• A loving spouse
• Financial security
• A happy healthy family
• Approval of friends
• A successful ministry
If we are trusting in the Lord primarily to provide us those things, then we are not really trusting in the Lord. Instead, we are trusting in those things. What we call “trusting in the Lord” is simply using God to get the things that we most trust in; we are manipulating God to get what our heart most rests in.
And when those things fail—illness in the family, pink slips at work, seemingly fruitless ministry—then our hearts are crushed because we’ve been resting our hearts on rotten branches.
The final phrase in the Jeremiah verse explains true heart rest: Blessed are they … whose trust IS the Lord.
When our hearts find rest in God alone, not in external circumstances, then—and only then—we have found an enduring and solid rest. We often cannot comprehend why God allows illness or pain or suffering; but we always know God is using everything for our good. Pink slips may free us from resting our hearts in career, and illness may save us from resting our hearts in this world.
This world is crashing down; what we see around us is passing away. God, and God alone, will last forever. As will those whose trust is the Lord.
We are making big mistakes, and we are taking huge risks, until our hearts rest in God alone, until our trust IS the Lord.
The biggest risk of all may be where we rest our hearts.