Is Your Mindset Keeping You from Rest?

“It’s hard to rest when you have nothing to fall back on.” We were discussing the biblical warning against failing to enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:1-7). My friend expressed a common mindset that I’ve fallen into many times.

By: Daniel Oines

I call this mindset “when/then thinking.” Here are some examples:

  • When my husband changes, then I’ll quit nagging.
  • When this bill is paid, then I’ll stop worrying.
  • When my son gets a real job, then I won’t fret.
  • When I get a diagnosis, then I’ll feel better.
  • When my daughter breaks up with the jerk, then I’ll enjoy her again.
  • When this project is finished, then I’ll engage with my family.
  • When I lose ten pounds, then I’ll quit complaining.
  • When I get the promotion, then I’ll take time for myself.

These all sound like legitimate reasons to worry and strive. But these are symptoms of not entering God’s rest. God’s rest is not freedom from hassles; it is freedom from being controlled by them.

  • Rest is achieved by trusting God.
  • Rest is ceasing from striving, controlling, and worrying.
  • Rest calms the storm within me.

When/then thinking is a trap. This mindset keeps us in turmoil. It depends on our ability to fix our problems or on a change in our circumstances. It basically says, “When I can see how things will work out, then I’ll trust God.” Jesus says don’t wait, instead: “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NIV).

True rest doesn’t depend on whether our situation works out as we hoped. It comes from bringing our concerns to Jesus. It comes from surrenderng our burdens, busyness, or lack. We experience rest when we live yoked to Him.

Hebrews says: “Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7, NASB).

Today is all we have. We deceive ourselves when we tell ourselves we’ll trust God when…. Today is the day to lay down our burdens.

Can you imagine living free from worry? What would it be like if you didn’t react when people tried to push your buttons? Imagine not being shaken by an unexpected bill or an unwelcomed doctor’s report. Would you like to have a peace that isn’t tied to your circumstances or other people?

Today, we can repent of putting conditions on our faith and obedience. We can stop saying “When this happens, then I’ll rest.”

Have you ever fallen into when/then thinking? What difference would it make if you entered God’s rest today? Join me in prayer.

Lord Jesus, I come to You with my burdens, needs, fears, deadlines, and dreads. I choose to surrender the outcome of these into Your hands. I surrender the conditions I’ve put on my faith. I choose to rest in Your love, Your sovereignty, Your goodness, Your power, Your provision, and Your perfect will for my life. Grant me the grace to trust you TODAY.”

Click here to share your thoughts.

I appreciate your prayers as I prepare for the release of my study: Give Yourself a Break, Discovering the Secrets to God’s Rest.


Debbie Wilson

Debbie W. Wilson


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  1. pat haley

    Thanks for this very pertinent word this morning. It paralleled my quiet time to a “t”. I choose to enter His rest!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Wonderful, Pat. I choose to rest in the midst of the chaos of noisy hammers and saws and phone calls demanding decisions concerning the construction project. I choose to trust God to provide the right choice at the right time, in spite of delays and dead ends.

  2. Ann Musico

    ” God’s rest is not freedom from hassles; it is freedom from being controlled by them.” Deb that speaks volumes! We’ll always have hassles on this earth. I wish I could say I don’t fall into this thinking any more but I still find myself in this place occasionally. Years ago we were trying to have our 2nd child. I felt in my heart I was pregnant – but Al needed proof. The at home tests were not able to tell so I went and had the doctor do a test. She was to call me at the end of the day (a Friday) with results. She didn’t and when I called she’d left for the weekend. My husband was pretty upset and went to get another at home test. I sat there and was looking at a picture we had up of Jesus – I just prayed – Lord if you want us to know now, I know you can get the answer to us and if not – it’s fine with me. No lie – not 5 minutes later the doctor called (the service called her) and apologized profusely and got the results which were “equivocal” meaning the sophisticated test couldn’t tell for sure either! But I was pregnant with my wonderful son Matthew! That was a great lesson in resting for me.

  3. Debbie Wilson

    Ann, what a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing. We put all these conditions on ourselves that really don’t add a thing to our peace. You rose above the having to know now! I love happy endings. And God promises happy ultimate ending to His children.

  4. Marilyn

    Well said, Debbie. Will be praying for your new book.

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Marilyn.

  5. Kathy

    Hi Debbie,
    This is so appropriate for me today! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and lifting my eyes from myself and to our God for relief and rest.


    • Debbie Wilson

      Bless you, Kathy. May you experience the rest only He can give.

  6. Renee

    “Rest is ceasing from striving, controlling, and worrying” – wow, how I need help with this! Thank you Debbie for posting such a helpful article. Should you be planning to have a small group study with your new book…please count me in! I would love an in depth study on learning to trust and rest in Him alone!

    • Debbie Wilson

      Thank you, Renee. I’ll be sure to post in the blog when I do!

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