Utterly preoccupied with those worries likely shared by most others on the road, worries such as work or finances or family or politics or whatever else one could add, I found myself muttering to God for some relief when suddenly I glanced upward from the traffic and noticed a large neon sign at the Flying J truck stop situated at the intersection of interstates 29 and 94 in Fargo. The neon sign was supposed to read, simply, “RESTAURANT.” But on this day the two central vowels in this oft-welcome word were missing. Thus, it only read “REST” and “RANT.”
It was at that very moment in time that the Lord of Heaven dropped a heavy load of conviction right into my muddled mind. It was as if He were saying to me, “Matthew, you have two choices with these worries of yours. You can either rage against the system, against Me or life or the world or what have you; that is, you could rant. Or, you could come before Me, lay these things at my feet, and, well, rest. Which one will you do?”
I wish I could tell you that I pulled off of the road, bowed my head and laid the burdens of my being at those feet of His. What I did do, however, was immediately acknowledge that deep down I have allowed this internal conflict to rage, a conflict wherein I bounce back and forth somewhat haphazardly between trust and disbelief, joy and sorrow, calm and confusion, proclamation and denial, and, yes, resting and ranting. Which means, of course, that I am erring on the side of “RANT.”
Surely this soul-dysfunction is not what the Master wants for me! Indeed, it is no wonder that in the nanosecond of time when I looked up and saw the neon sign I seemed to hear God say “Pick one!” Like the Laodiceans of old I’ve allowed my inner-world to be somewhat lukewarm. I think God would have me just land somewhere if for no other reason so I can display greater integrity. Rest or Rant, Matthew: Pick one!
Of course, the psalmist offers a helpful exhortation when the world is in the throes of its ranting. Psalm 46:10, well-known as it is, reads: Be still, and know that I am God. Moreover, Jesus himself offers this exceedingly welcoming word in Matthew 11:28-30: 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. Oh that I could embrace these invitations to rest; consistently, joyously, confidently.
But to rant is more comfortable, somehow more familiar. It makes me feel in control. It somehow affirms my independence, my great need to have charge over all dimensions of my life. It allows me the opportunity to be at the top of the heap, even looking down upon God and chewing Him out because He is being such an irresponsible subordinate to me. I like that because in my imagination I am on the throne of the heavens and earth. From such a lofty post I can then justify whatever disgust at the systems of life I might have, like a mighty CEO who is righteously angered by whatever morons work beneath him.
And yet with the “fun” comes misery, which I suppose is the dirty little secret of the life lived independent of the Spirit of God; misery because something is still missing, something critical to peace of the soul, something akin to, well, surrender.
This presentation is a reprise of a post dated November 26, 2008.