The most important reason we need rest

 

Busyness. It can be worn like a badge, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve readily and proudly admitted when my answer to “how have you been?” is “Busy!” It makes us feel productive. Like we are worthily accomplishing something.

Rest is not easily accomplished as a mother, so I am learning. 24/7 you are now caring for the needs of a little one(s), your hubby, and your home. Plus likely balancing volunteering, work, family and friendships. Rest is utterly important, at every stage of life, and I don’t think it’s impossible, or God wouldn’t urge us to do it. We just have to be creative. For me, right now, rest looks like my morning coffee with some time in the Word before Elizabeth wakes up (that length changes daily!). It looks like trying a new recipe and experimenting with food. It looks like reading something other than non-fiction – currently, the story of the little Swiss girl, Heidi, lent to me by a friend.

My husband, Troy, knows this about me – that I have an extremely hard time resting after Elizabeth goes down for bed until clutter is put away, and the kitchen is clean. I rest better without clutter and mess. So the word “rest” has been on my mind as I mull over what God wants me to focus on in this season.

Did you know the word “rest” occurs 308 times (ESV) in the Bible? For a frame of reference, “love” occurs 551 times. So clearly, rest is important. But as I looked up this word, rest, it seemed that sometimes it takes work to rest. Doesn’t that sound funny? But if you think about all the work you put into planning a holiday, it does take effort!

Hebrew 4:9-11 says, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

Other places where ‘rest’ is mentioned are when Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Or in Exodus 33:14 where God says, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” This is clearly a gift from His presence.

Psalm 16:8-9 also says, “I have set the Lord always before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure (ESV).” Some versions say “shall rest in hope”. What is King David saying? Because he has set the Lord before him, he is able to find rest and dwell securely in knowing His Lord has things in hand.

What do I learn from looking up the word rest? Two things:

1) Rest is both a place of peace (noun) where we find relaxation and strength, but it is also a verb, where we intentionally choose to refrain from our own way, trust, and find confident hope in the Lord.

2) Rest comes directly from His presence, from putting the Lord before us, and it keeps us from living a disobedient (unbelieving) life.

So while rest sounds like a passive word, it is actually a very intentional word that we are to seek.

As a new mom, and someone who is learning to be a homemaker all in the same breath, the idea of rest can seem like something far off – like 18 years from now. But God urges us to find rest in Him, and this will keep His presence in our lives and keep us from walking in unbelief in our hearts. Whether this is while you cook with a toddler at your ankles (amen, I have tried to find rest in this new season in this very act!), or while finding a few moments in the bathroom before your little one finds you (amen and amen).

I know there are areas the Lord has wanted to heal me of unbelief, where I don’t fully trust Him, even after all of these years. And that can only be done by coming to Him with my labor, ceasing to do it on my own, and abiding confidently in Him.

As an exercise, I took these verses and paraphrased them into my own words. Perhaps this will help you grasp what is being said…

Psalm 16:8-9 – I continuously run to Him, in my mind and in my heart. I feel His presence throughout my day, and I know He is the one that will keep me anchored. So I can live joyfully and at peace in my whole being; even physically I feel a peace as I choose to confidently abide in Who He is and what He’s done.

Hebrews 4:9-11 – There is still a way of finding total rest when you walk with God, because when you are in relationship with Him, there is a new peace that comes because you cease from doing things your own way, on your own strength. God is our leader, our Father, and even He rested after creating all of this! But it takes intention. You must work hard at resting in Him, in what He has already accomplished, and find confidence in that. This will protect you from falling into deep unbelief.

Matthew 11:28 – Come spend time in my presence, and my presence will calm and quiet your heart, and give you the strength you need.

Why is rest so important? It keeps us in His presence. And that keeps us from unbelief in our hearts, keeps us resting securely in Him.

I can’t think of any more important reason than to find ways to abide and run to Him!

Advertisements

What do you want? A simple question, a loaded answer.

 

I_Want
Lately, Troy and I have both felt challenged to ‘up’ our expectations. Increase our anticipation, so to speak. To not just strive in some areas of life, but to thrive. It can be easy to get into maintenance mode where we give thanks (as we should) for our daily bread and all the good gifts God has given us, but never anticipate and pray into what He wants for the next or present season of time.

We are in somewhat of a transition again, and more than just having a baby in four weeks! And it has caused us to really lean on the Lord as we welcome His good gifts, but also anticipate what treasure is in this season.

If I stop and picture our little girl, say, five years from now as we bake cookies together or dance with Daddy in the kitchen… I would hope that not only does she have a thankful heart, but that she knows her Mommy and Daddy WANT to give her good things. That she feels she can ask and hope. If she never asked for anything, I would wonder if she truly knew how much we wanted to give to her. Now of course, the decision is up to us, but in her asking she would be showing us that she knows we provide and love her and are there for her needs.

I almost feel as if Jesus is before me asking, “What do you want?” which caused me to go to my Bible and look up how many times in the gospels He would ask someone that same question, before He healed them. As if in establishing their desire, He was establishing their faith and trust in Him. 

Look for yourself. From the blind beggar Bartimaeus (Luke 9:41, Mark 10:50) to the man at the pool (John 5:6) to asking Martha “do you believe this?” before He brought back her brother Lazarus from the dead (John 11:26), Jesus would repeatedly establish someone’s desire and faith before bringing it about to reality. He didn’t do this with every person, but with enough that it stands out to me as something of importance. What do you want? Do you believe this? Do you want to be healed? Jesus questions as though challenging us to dig deep into what we truly believe.

Is He able?

Does He want to?

Will He show up?

And if I truly believe this, then why am I not asking more in my life?

John 16:24 challenged my heart with, “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

There are some things I would really like of the near future. And rather than saying, “God, however YOU want it to go, I am okay with that. I will ride the wave. I will watch and see.” I feel like He is challenging me to ASK and believe in His good character and His heart. As though I underestimate His love for me and how much He is on my side, I almost hesitate to ask big lately. Do you? I feel like it is taking MORE faith to ask big things right now, than to let whatever will be, to be. The results are still up to Him, but there is something in the asking that establishes my belief that He is on our side, and that He is good.

Perhaps the asking is less about receiving whatever we want, and more about establishing relationship anyway. If Jesus says tells us to ask and we will receive, that our joy may be full… Well, we know that true joy is never is perfect circumstances or things anyway. That’s not what God teaches us! It’s about the closeness we can share with Him. So in asking, there must be something that He wants to establish in us … Don’t you think?

I don’t know what boat you’re in – trusting and seeing, asking and waiting, or holding on for dear life as God does some amazing things in your life – but there is something to be said for giving thanks along the way AND asking our good Father for big things for the next season of life. Because at the end of the day, the start of the day, and in the middle of it all, He truly wants to be there for us.

So go on. What do you want Him to do for you? Ask. I dare you.

Like leaky balloons

 

bc774616af5ac890256258e1a3de0ec8Like accomplices in the night, they tag-team; destructive and deceitful. They create bars on your heart you didn’t know were there, blocking out the only thing that can set you free from the prison you’ve created. They hide, holding hands, terrified of the light. Their shadow lines the concrete walls, stalking and tall. But they know, oh they know, if but a little light is shone on them, that their power will dwindle, losing air. They no longer can govern your relationships once truth begins to speak. And like a balloon slowly leaks its air, they will eventually crumble under the weight of love, powerless.

Pride and fear.

Two things I believe govern us and our relationships more than we realize.

This topic of love is one I’ve been fascinated with, well, forever. Waiting for my husband to arrive for our fairytale to begin; wanting God’s love to go deeper from my head to my heart; how do I truly love others like Jesus commanded me to?

A conversation Troy and I had last night with some friends about relationships got me thinking about how wrongly I have handled so many relationships in my past. And if I were to really reflect, a lot of it was out of either pride or fear.

Pride — Do I feel better than them in some way? They have more/are more/do more than me in comparison, so my worth is less.

Fear — What will they think if I say something? What if it comes out wrong and I look silly?

We may not like to admit it, but that can often be the thought process of our heart. At least in mine. Yuck.

The sneaky thing is, pride and fear can hide in what we think are good motivations – to protect people, not to hurt them (or us), to keep the peace. But it can build over time into resentment or regrets of unspoken words.

As I read in 1 John 4:7-21 this morning, all I keep coming back to is that our responsibility is never to manage the fear/pride, figure out a 10 step program for overcoming it, or write a to-do list of how to go from glory to glory. No. Our job as believers in Christ?

Vs 12 (Message) says, “But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us – perfect love!”

And vs 16 states (ESV), “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.”

My job is to abide in God’s love – dwell, stay, remain and make that my home. And to love others. Sometimes loving others is saying the tough things, confronting. And sometimes it’s just praying for them, holding them up in our hearts. Sometimes abiding in God is staying silent when we really want to have our say. And sometimes it is resting in Him and then going out to do what He’s put on our hearts to do. Either way, it starts and ends with love.

Oh may 2016 look different for us all. My hope, as we are in a new community making new relationships, is that I can learn from the past, and rest in God’s love more; my only hope of change. And as I rest in His love, that He graces me to communicate and love others the way He has called me to, rather than be held back by pride or fear. God knows I can’t do it on my own.

The beauty of it all? Once you shed light on the hidden stalkers that keep you imprisoned in relationships, you can begin to pray into it, and like a leaking balloon, pride and fear begins to fade as His love is perfected in us.

Monday Minute: Bowed or flustered?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The day was like any other – the sisters were hosting, yet again. They’d become known for it – the way they made people feel at home in their home. It was a gift. Yet on this particular day, the guest was unlike any other. Not ordinary; it was Jesus.

Martha was busy in the kitchen – distractedly serving and getting everything ready for the evening meal. While Mary was enraptured in the sitting room, hanging by every word that fell from the lips of Jesus.

Frustrated, Martha marches out of the kitchen. Her tight bun was now loose, mousy brown hair everywhere. Remnants of flour and oil remained on her clothes. Sweat dripped from her well-formed brow.

Knowing He carried weight with her sister, and knowing He always hears her, Martha spoke up.

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” Hands flying everywhere, and then finally resting exhausted at her side, as though ready to collapse.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her.”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

***

What I love about how Jesus relates with these sisters, is that He always has compassion – on both of them. Citing Martha’s name twice usually means He’s trying to get her attention, but also doing so lovingly. The Bible said she was “distracted with much serving”. In the Message version, it says in vs 38, “A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.”

Usually Martha can get picked on in this text. But never once does Jesus reprimand her or make her feel badly – He kindly and lovingly points to the better way. Clearly Martha was gifted in the areas of homemaking.

If I knew Jesus was coming, I would’ve been fussing about getting the home ready as well – just like Martha. But Mary, bless her heart, decides to sit at Jesus’ feet, in His presence.

At first glance, from the perspective of someone like Martha, this looks lazy and uncaring. But even amongst all the doing and serving to be done, she still ‘chose well’ –to listen and be still.

Mary’s position was bowed and waiting, Martha’s position was flustered and distracted.

How real can this be of our hearts? I can sit down to spend time with the Lord and a million things run through my mind of what to do next (and we don’t even have kids yet!). I think what Jesus was saying was – even amongst the distractions and all the things you need to do (good things, real life things), choose a bowed position of heart, and I will meet you there.

As we enjoy this Christmas season, I hope I can still the distractions, and sit at Jesus’ feet more. Whether it’s while doing dishes or driving to do errands, I want to be more conscious of the position of my heart this season – am I bowing and waiting, or am I flustered and distracted?