A dear friend of mine had a surgery and she was told by the doctors and some friends that she would be back to normal in no time–maybe even back to her schedule on the second or third day. Her surgery took more time than they had thought, as there were a few complications, and even after 3 months, she was still recuperating. Her body needed time to adjust before it would come back to normal.
Sometimes I think that we come to God and expect Him to work today, this minute, now! Yet, we have been living busily, with stress, too much work, no rest, fear, works oriented, too many commitments, not according to God’s ways, for years and years and we want a quick fix! But what I have learned from living with Him these many years is that God rarely seems to be in a hurry. When He wants me to learn a lesson or change my lifestyle, often it takes quite a time to adjust and move into the wisdom He wants me to know.
So it is with rest and peace and refueling. It takes time to restore.
True rest comes from an inner heart attitude of relinquishing my rights to God
Even more, true rest comes from clothing my heart with a different paradigm–not living by the outer, demanding circumstances and relationship demands of my life, but from an inner compass, an inner grid that stays in tune with God’s ways, His power, His direction, His plans.
No amount of forced sleep or taking time away can create rest if my heart is in turmoil. Because God is bigger than me and I am so limited in my humanness, He has had to get my attention many times in order to teach me His ways for me in my life in this world. I will share just a few thoughts on rest that have been enlightening to me over the years and lately.
1. Come to Jesus!
“Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Learn from me–is there any other place in scripture where Jesus says specifically–LEARN FROM ME. I have pondered this verse a lot this year. Jesus is humble of heart–a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He had no stately form or majesty that we should look upon him. He embraced children, forgave prostitutes, touched lepers. In coming to Him and pondering Him, I have slowly realized that He is with me, He wants me to learn from Him–in following Him and living out His priorities and ways, I will find rest.
He is not one who lived for the praise or pleasing of others, and so I will find rest when I live not for the praise of others or seeking to fit in with those who cannot offer me peace. He lived by the love and grace in His heart It is in pondering Jesus, and thinking about Him and submitting myself to His priorities of life that I have begun to live in peace.
It means living with your limitations and in the midst of it, abiding in His presence–
Living well within my skin–I will never be perfect or get everything done or always be patient, or understand or even always like my children, my husband, my life–but Jesus is here–He will take my problems, stresses, sins, fears, and He will be the source of my strength–He will take care of me and give me rest. He will give me strength to endure and then flourish if I look to His presence and provision
2. Learn to wait! (Did I hear a big uhg!!!!?)
“Rest in the Lord, wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7
My notes say, “Feed on His faithfulness.” for the word rest.
Isaiah says in quietness and rest will be your strength. It also says in Isaiah 40, “Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength.” You want new strength–you have to wait on God.
I could give a zillion more verses on waiting, but waiting and not doing my will or trying to help God or begging Him—but waiting is where peace, rest and strength will come–it is His way of getting our attention, of helping us to change our heart toward His will, of learning that He is in control.
waiting till you get married; waiting till you get that new job; waiting till you get pregnant;
waiting till your baby sleeps through the night or doesn’t need diapers anymore or gets through the terrible twos or learns to read, or, or, or;
waiting till you get that bigger house or new car, waiting till your teenager quits having such hormonal, irrational moments,
waiting through the mystery of trying to understand or help a child who is autistic, downs syndrome, adhd, bi-polar, obsessive, compulsive or out of the box
waiting till your husband matures or until your work is over or whatever–we are always hoping and waiting for something–but in waiting on God in the midst of His will, we will find rest–not in changing the circumstances.
We can only have rest inside that spreads through to our outside if we relinquish controls and expectations and wait, resting, trusting in Him in the midst of a storm.
Why did Jesus sleep through the storm on the sea? Well, for one thing, he was exhausted, so he fell asleep–talking to people all day long, ministering, helping, feeding, well–it is just exhausting.
But for another thing, he had no fear in the storm, he could rest because He knew the one who was more powerful than the storm and He knew He was in His care, so he rested in the storm while everyone else needlessly fretted and raved and tried to control it.
3. Don’t be Martha–be Mary!
I cannot achieve peace or rest in my life when I am running around like a chicken with its head off. There are so many applications about Martha–but overall, she was working too hard, feeling like a martyr, supposing she was bearing the whole world on her shoulders since Mary wasn’t willing to help, fussing about and complaining and missing life in her overwhelming busyness.
I know Marthas. I have been a Martha–anxious, busy, complaining, criticizing others, supposing by the franticness of my life, I am accomplishing lots.
I have learned, in my exhaustion, when God had my attention: Simplify, don’t do activities that steal peace, rest or harmony unless you are absolutely sure they are necessary. Stop living by works. Stop trying to perform–sit down, listen to wisdom, be quiet, get perspective.
4. Do not allow yourself to be anxious, or fearful and do not worry!
Ulcers, heart palpitations, fibromyalgia, cancer, depression–many illnesses are caused by anxiety, fear and anger. You cannot experience rest and you cannot get over exhaustion without trusting God. These attitudes wear us down, exhaust us, keep us from sleep. Faith is a choice to believe God, to believe Him that He will lead us out of this season, even when we do not understand or know the answer. Faith is a healer and faith restores physical strength. We are not made to carry the burdens of this world–only He is strong enough. There is no burden that He is not willing to carry or lift if we yield it to Him.
Psalm 37: 8 says, “Fret not, it leads only to evil doing.”
Jesus himself said, “Do not be anxious for your life.” Matt. 6: 25
Paul said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but pray about everything, and the peace of God will guard your heart.” Philippians 4: 6-7
When my children were very young and were whining or crying loudly, out of control, having a tantrum, I would pick them up, take them to their crib and say, “I cannot speak to you or hel
p you while you are out of control and crying. When you can quit crying and be quiet, then you will be able to hear my voice and I can help and comfort you.”
It is the same with God. Though we, like children, don’t always like what we have been given or feel good about our circumstances, the plain truth is that God is always right and His ways are always the best. We can throw a tantrum, cultivate anxiety, try to find peace by doing it our way, but He will just wait until we are quiet so that we can hear His voice and then be willing to let Him give comfort or perspective.
I wish I had just enjoyed life more instead of fighting against it. I could have had more rest, more fun, more joy. Much of the stress we feel or experience is just the norm of life–like living through the stages of a family of children, in the midst of the details of life–it is all ok. It is going to pass and another stress will come. Just relax-
Today, the circumstances you are in, the limitations you have, the relationships you have been given is the place in which God is present. Today you have the choice to seek to learn what you can, to strive to rest in His will, to cultivate a patient heart that trust in Him, to celebrate life. Today, if you bow your will, even if you don’t especially like where you are, you will find that His will is good and acceptable and perfect. It will bring healing to your bones, rest to your heart, joy to your minutes.
It is one of the reasons I wrote Dancing with my Father–I wanted not to be a victim of life, but to learn His rhythm, to hear His music, to follow His lead.