Finding Rest in God’s Boundaries
About the Guest
Jesus promised to give us rest. Listening to Him will energize our souls and give us peace, even in the hectic pace of the 21st century. Author Tim Kimmel tells us tells why listening to God and doing what He says, including forgiving those who've hurt us, will energize our souls and give us peace.
Jesus promised to give us rest.
Finding Rest in God’s Boundaries
Bob: A lot of people feel drained by the pace of life. Author Tim Kimmel says there are other things that will drain a person like holding onto an offense and refusing to forgive another person.
Tim: We've all fished, you know, when you get a big fish on, like up in Alaska or deep sea – it's a lot of work to keep that fish on there. Well, it's the same thing with staying angry and bitter toward somebody. When you forgive somebody, it doesn't mean that person is off the hook for what they did, they're just off of your hook, that's all.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, December 5th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Do you feel like the pace of life is draining you? It may be that something different is draining you. We'll talk about it today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. You know, there are times in life when we have to recalibrate, right? When we've just got to pull back and reset the dials a little bit, but it seems to me that recalibration is something that you don't just do once, and it's done, but as soon as you've recalibrated, the gears start spinning a little more, and …
Dennis: [laughing] And you get uncalibrated.
Bob: You've got to have the recalibration ceremony happen at every 3,000 miles.
Dennis: You really do. It's why there has to be maintenance and a time of pulling out of the battle and out of the pace of life and pulling off to the side and – well, Bob, as you were talking, I was thinking about some words of a very famous man who, as far as I know, he is the only one who made this offer. Now, this is an astounding offer for a person to make to another person, and I don't think anything else comes close to it.
The offer was this – "Come to me, all you 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."
You don't have to be a Bible scholar to know who made that promise. It was Jesus, and Jesus basically said, "You can find rest in the midst of busy-ness by coming to a person – not just any person, but the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Bob: So you hear something like that, and you think, "All right, I need rest, so I should come to Jesus" – I've already come to Jesus. We need some help fleshing that out.
Dennis: Oh, sure, absolutely. And we've got a friend in the studio, besides Jesus, He's here, too – we've got a friend in the studio who is going to help us understand a study that he did of how Jesus brought rest to people. Tim Kimmel joins us again. Tim, welcome back.
Tim: Glad to be with you, thanks.
Dennis: Tim is the author of "Little House on the Freeway," and we've been talking with him about how busy couples, busy families, need to pull off to the side and experience some calm and some rest and peace and tranquility and not just be driven.
Bob: And let me just say, this book, which you wrote more than two decades ago, is a classic. More than 300,000 copies of it sold, and I know Billy Graham gave away about a quarter million of them to folks.
You have just recently revised and expanded and updated the book. So in any era, in any time, under any circumstances, Jesus says, "You're weary, you're looking for rest," is this simply an offer of the Gospel bringing rest for your soul, or does it go beyond that, do you think?
Tim: Well, when He introduced the Sabbath concept in the Creation – He worked six days, and He rested. He was not disconnected from Himself during those six days. This wasn't about, "Oh, we stop, and we reconnect with God." Now, you stay connected with Him the whole time. He's saying the Sabbath wasn't made for God, it was made for man. We are not designed to burn the candle at both ends and torch the middle. It just doesn't work. It's not if you're going to implode, it's just when.
Dennis: And so Jesus says "Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden," and this is a culture that is really tired – just exhausted.
Tim: Dennis, people wake up tired after eight hours' sleep in our culture. The reason they are is their brain is doing a little inventory of what lies ahead. You say, "Okay, I just put eight hours of rest on my body. Here's what's lying ahead. Based on what I just put on board and my schedule, I'm going to be out of gas by 9:30 this morning. I've got that much on my plate."
The average mom is accomplishing, before 8:00 in the morning, what her grandmother did in a day. Well, there's only so much we can take, and so we want to stay on game, but we don't have to go and wipe ourselves out in the process.
Bob: So when you looked at the life of Jesus and saw how He kept His pace but maintained His own margin, what did you find?
Tim: They're not going to like the first one, so let's skip that one.
Dennis: No, don't skip it, because I think it was interesting that you started here, because a lot of our listeners are going to say, "What does that have to do" …
Bob: … with pace of life?
Dennis: With pace of life and with rest? But it's very, very applicable, isn't it?
Tim: Yes. The first necessity for maintaining calm and rest is maintaining a forgiving spirit towards everybody around you – living your heart reconciled with the people up close to you, and that spirit of forgiveness, that attitude of forgiveness is something that steals a lot of joy because people just say, "No, I've got this chip on my shoulder. It was put there by somebody else. They don't deserve to be let off the hook for this; I didn't get the childhood I needed. My parents, you know, their marriage broke up. I'm mad. My ex took off and took everything but the blame, and I'm mad about this."
Well, then, I'm sorry, peace, calm, rest, will not be yours.
Bob: You're saying if you're carrying around a root of bitterness, if you're holding onto a grudge or to an unreconciled relationship, that will drain life and energy out of your soul, right?
Dennis: Well, actually, I wrote down what Tim wrote in his book, because in re-reading the book, I was again fascinated that you started here. Here is the statement you made that was kind of a "Yeah, he's really right." Here is your quote – "A person who is unable and unwilling to forgive can never be truly at rest in their soul."
Tim: That's right. Then He says, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest," and He's talking about rest for the soul in that thing – deep down in the heart. Well, how in the world can I have rest if – it take energy for me to stay angry at somebody – for me to keep all the wounds open and current. And, listen, there are some people that have done this wrong, that, yeah, you loan them your car, they wrecked it. They didn't take any responsibility for it. Now they're running around in a new car, and you're having to take the bus.
Or this guy got your daughter pregnant, and he threw her a couple of 20s and said, "Why don't you go get an abortion," and then he took off and left her behind, and she had that baby, and now he's got his next victim on his arm, you see him downtown – that hurts because part of the forgiving spirit is forgiving people who have not repented and are still in your life.
But here is Jesus on the cross – what does He say to these soldiers, what does He say about those religious leaders that put Him there on it? "Father, forgive them. They haven't a clue what they just did."
Bob: Tell our listeners about the Korean church and their example here.
Tim: Billy Kim told this story years ago, and a lot of people don't understand that in the 20th century history, Japan really moved a reign of terror over China, Korea, and even – and the bitterness goes to this day.
And one of the things they did, is they ejected all foreign missionaries, and they forbade people to worship in a public way. And I don't know why tyrants think that if you forbid Christianity, you'll make it go away. It doesn't work that way.
Well, this one pastor begged them, the Japanese police officer there, the captain, for one chance for them to get together. And he finally said, "Okay." Well, people came from miles around to this little church to have church. And they were so excited to be finally together, and they were singing praises to God and so forth, but they didn't realize, while they were in there, that the soldiers on the outside were dousing the outside of the church with kerosene. And they didn't realize that they were doomed until the smoke started coming through the holes – the cracks in the floor, and so some of the people started to go to the doors. They were blockaded. A couple tried out the window, and snipers were out there to shoot anyone that tries to get out.
And the pastor figured out, "Okay, this is it. We're done for." And so he started leading them in a song that he thought would be a perfect serenade and farewell to earth and a beautiful salutation to heaven – "Alas, and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die; Would he devote His sacred head for such a worm as I – At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away" – we know that old song.
Tim: And the thing came crashing, and everybody died. The people on the outside that were related or friends – this took the wound down so deeply with them, they were so enraged at what these Japanese soldiers did, so finally after the war is over, they didn't want to forgive. And many, many decades later, some Japanese pastors were in Korea, just tours, tourists, and they saw the little sign that said what had happened, and they learned about it, and they felt so bad. They went back, raised some money, and they decided we're going to rebuild a church for these people.
Well, they're trying to be cordial, the Koreans, and so they invited these guys, these pastors and their wives, to come to the dedication, but you could cut the tension with a knife, because these people who were there to dedicate it, they had lost somebody.
Well, the worship leader decided to – you know, to do the same songs. And it was during that time that those Japanese pastors turned to these people and just begged them, "Please forgive us." Now, it was interesting. These pastors had nothing to do with what had happened, but they realized their country was guilty, and "Please forgive us," and finally, finally, the tears started to flow, and God bathed that floor that was once the scene of a nightmare with tears of forgiveness, and He lifted off them that burden that had gone so – you know, for, like, 40 years.
There's stuff like that in all kinds of people's lives. We've got to do something about it.
Dennis: And the practical picture that you just painted there, Tim, is one of what forgiveness really means, which is when you forgive someone, you give up the right to punish them.
Dennis: You open your hand, and you release them from trying to hurt them, from trying to bring justice, make it right, and you release it to God to let Him take care of how He settles the score, and you stop trying to do it, and in the process of forgiving them, you realize the person who ultimately was in prison was yourself.
Tim: Exactly. You know, you referred to actually Romans 12 there, and he says, "Do not return evil for evil but leave room for the wrath of God. Judgment is job, justice is my job, I'll repay." And I like to put it this way – the reason a lot of people don't want to forgive, they say, "I don't want them off the hook for what they did."
And, listen, out of this radio show we're having, if the only thing our listeners get is this one point, I think they're going to be light years ahead, and that is when you forgive somebody, it doesn't mean that person is off the hook for what they did, they're just off your hook, that's all. They're still on God's. And if they don't repent, He'll deal with them, but He says, "This is too much for you." And we've all fished, you know, and you get a big fish on like you have in Alaska or deep sea – it's a lot of work to keep that fish on there, and you can't do this forever.
Well, the same thing with staying angry and bitter toward somebody. Bitterness is like emotional cancer, and it is never satisfied, but it always wants to eat more.
Dennis: And it's interesting that here is Jesus who says "Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." What did Jesus give us? Forgiveness.
Tim: Forgiveness, yeah.
Dennis: So where you're really starting is where He started with us.
Bob: So forgiveness is a part of the key. What else did you see Jesus do as you looked at His life that gave Him rest and kept the pace where it ought to be in His own life?
Tim: Well, you live within the limits of God's Word or God's truth that Jesus was filled with grace and truth. It's like a compass, a moral compass – some people jettison the compass, but most of our listeners, they haven't jettisoned the compass, but they say, "I'm just off a few degrees." Well, if you were leaving, let's say, San Diego in a boat, and you're going to go to Hawaii, and someone says, "Right here on the compass, that's Hawaii," and you're only off a couple of degrees. How far are you going to – you won't even see the islands when you pass them in the distance. You'll hit the Aleutians, and that's what happens when we don't live in the limits of God's Word.
When I was in grad school I had a guy that was in Vietnam, a friend, and he was – he had an injury on his leg. When the Vietnam War broke out, he decided to sign up for artillery, he got drafted, and he thought, "Well, if I have to go, at least I'll be way behind the lines and lobbing them in from a safe distance." When he got there, he got orders to go out to the edge – almost near Cambodia, to a Green Beret camp, and they would provide artillery for these guys going out.
And so he's surrounded by a minefield and a couple of fences and then the jungle. And they were told, "Don't you go out there, because if you go out there, it's dangerous." Well, the Green Berets had worked their way through this minefield, and so the guys memorized what the route was out through the minefield, watching these guys, and there were some, like, kiwis in the jungle, these fresh fruit, and this one guy said, "Boy, those things look good." They kept talking about it and finally he says, "I'm going to go out there," and he took the same route out that the Green Berets take. When he got to the edge is when he first saw that NVA soldier, and, I mean, that guy cut him in half. He hit the ground dead, and then they came, and it was just like – and they came in through the same path they saw him coming out. They memorized it so they could come in.
And he said it was this ferocious, horrible firefight, and it was all because we stepped outside the boundaries of protection that they had told us to stay inside of. He says, "And the reason I go by God's Word is I saw what happens when you step outside the boundaries of protection, and I don't ever want that again in my life." But we do this all the time.
Dennis: And that creates exhaustion …
Tim: Oh, exhaustion …
Dennis: You tell another story about a father who was a pro-life father …
Tim: Big time.
Dennis: And I happen to believe this story has been replicated in far too many churches across our nation among those who profess to be pro-life.
Tim: Yeah, he was – in fact, he was outspoken and a leader in the pro-life movement and all, and then we were out camping and hunting, and it was evening, and we got – and he got quiet, and you could tell something was on his – and he explained it. His daughter had gotten pregnant, and I didn't know that, obviously, and so – and I said, "Well, when is the baby due?" And then he gets real quiet, and he says, "Well" – and he had taken her in personally and gotten her an abortion.
And, you know, he – what happened to your pro-life stand here? And when he weighed the personal emotional stress to him and to his daughter, he took this easy way out. Now he was riven with guilt and so was she just because his principles didn't rise to the surface under great stress and, by the way, guys, that's where our principles have to show up is under great stress. And no one is questioning that this is a stressful situation and all, but do you believe this or not?
And just name the principle we believe in from the Bible and, under – you know, like Mary – we've lost that loving feeling, so we're just going to split the sheets and go our different directions. Well, I guarantee you lose that loving feeling if you're married.
Bob: You step outside the boundaries, often because you either perceive that there is going to be some kind of satisfaction or pleasure or joy if you do, or because there is going to be some quick release of stress and pain and trouble if you do.
So you say, "I either want the pleasure or I want to escape the pain," but what you don't realize is if you go after the pleasure, there is a bitter aftertaste that stays with you for a long time, and if you're just trying a short-term release of the pain, what you find is that the memories of that choice can haunt you for a lifetime, and the ache stays with you forever. There is not – there may be a short-term rest, but there is a long-term stress that you've added to your life.
Dennis: And, Bob, to that very point, you just wonder today in this culture, because we have lost our spiritual roots, for the most part, as a nation – you just have to wonder if this isn't the source – these first two things we've talked about here that Jesus Christ offers, and He modeled for us. If we don't have a nation that's exhausted because in their soul they are weighted down by either their bitterness or their wrong choices. And, ultimately, for both is forgiveness. It's coming to Christ and crying out to Him as many a sinner has cried out to Him – "Lord, be merciful to me, a lawbreaker, a sinner, one who has gone against Your way."
And that's where you begin to find rest for your soul. You're not going to find it in religion, you're going to find it by coming to Jesus Christ and taking Him at His Word. Do you know what He offers you? He offers you absolute forgiveness. There is no man on the planet, except the God Man who could make an offer like that – to say, "I have the power to forgive you," and ended up being the one not only who forgave but paid the price for our sins and rose again from the dead. So He's still making that offer today.
Bob: Yeah, ultimately, the things you're talking about here – the need for us to be forgiving people and to live inside boundaries – these are not techniques that anyone can employ – these are patterns of life that can only be followed consistently by someone whose life has first been transformed through a relationship with Jesus Christ, right?
Tim: These are our lived-out values that are based on our beliefs, clear beliefs, that we have in Christ. And if you don't have those clear beliefs, or you're wishy-washy on them under stress, you will not be a rested heart.
Dennis: And if you don't have them, today is the day to …
Tim: Oh, this is a great day.
Dennis: Today is the day to come to Christ. He says to you, "Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I'll give you rest." You know what? The rest that He offers is the ultimate, because it's not just peace in your soul today knowing you're forgiven, but it's rest for eternity, it's knowing that you're going to have a relationship with Christ today, but that relationship will transcend the grave and that you've got a hope and a purpose and a peace for the rest of your life.
And I'd just encourage that person right now who is unsure of their eternal destiny, cry out to Him – it's very simple. It's an act of faith – it's done through prayer, it's not a matter of works, it's a matter of trusting His finished work on your behalf and take Him at His Word and say, "Lord Jesus, be merciful to me, a sinner."
And I'd just encourage our listeners, regardless of where they are – traveling down the road, in your office or at home, take a moment right now and take Christ at His Word and establish that relationship. Then after you do, call our 800 number.
Bob: Yeah, there's a book we'd love to send to you. It's a book we've sent to a lot of folks over the years. It's called "Pursuing God," and it's a book designed to help you understand what it means to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and it helps settle a lot of these spiritual issues that maybe folks have wrestled with or are just now starting to wrestle with.
Again, call 1-800-FLTODAY and say, "I am interested in becoming a Christian and I'd like a copy of that book, "Pursuing God," and we're happy to send it to you at no cost to you. Again, the toll-free number, 1-800-FLTODAY. You can also call that number if you're interested in getting a copy of Tim Kimmels' book, "Little House on the Freeway." We have that in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and you can call to request a copy or go to our website, FamilyLife.com.
When you get to our home page, on the right side of the screen, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast." If you click that box, it will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about Tim's book, and you can order a copy of the book from us online, if you'd like. There is also a link there if you'd like to get information about an eight-part DVD series that Tim has put together for small group use or for churches to use in a Sunday night setting or however you'd like to use it. The information about "The Hurried Family" DVD series is just a click away when you get to our website at FamilyLife.com or, again, for more information, call 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
And let me say a quick thank you to those of you who already this week have contacted us to make a generous year-end contribution for the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We had some folks who approached us recently and said that they wanted to match every donation that we receive during the month of December on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $425,000.
They realized that this year has been a tough year for a lot of families, for a lot of businessmen. It's been a tough year for a lot of ministries like ours, and they are hoping that here, at year-end, those of you who have benefited from this daily radio program or from maybe attending a Weekend to Remember or utilizing some of our resources, going to our website, they are hoping that you might consider making a generous year-end donation and seeing that donation be matched dollar-for-dollar, again, up to a total of $425,000.
So if you can help us with a donation, go to our website at FamilyLife.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, make your donation over the phone and, again, we appreciate your financial support of this ministry.
Dennis: Well, Bob, you know it's always fun to have an old friend back in the studio. Tim Kimmel has joined us today talking about his classic book, "Little House on the Freeway," and, Tim, we love you and appreciate you and Darcy. Thanks for being champions for marriages and families and raising the next generation, and thanks for speaking at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences. You're a good friend, and I hope you'll come back and join us again soon.
Tim: It's an honor, thanks.
Bob: FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas – help for today; hope for tomorrow.
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