THE SECRET POWER OF... REST
This is an awkward one to write, because I have not proven to be good at resting. I guess that might be why the Lord has been speaking it to my heart lately, and asked me to jot down these thoughts. Often times I write about what He is teaching me at the moment, or something I am going through. I think we tend to learn the lesson better when we hear ourselves rehearse it or write it down. So, lucky you...you get to hear part of our dialogue.
It seems like the more that the Holy Spirit emphasizes resting in Him, the more tasks I seem to have to do. I say “Yes, Lord, I will spend time simply resting in your presence”, and then find myself staring at a ‘to-do’ list about 3 pages long. Oh, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak!
What does resting in God’s presence look like? For general purposes here in this blog, I’m talking about quality quiet time with the Lord. Entering into a place where striving will cease, faith can breathe deeply, and my soul can be at total peace. When I am at rest, there isn’t any worry or care that will dominate my thoughts. There is a deep awareness of God’s unchanging love and unstoppable mercy. This ‘rest’ is a place where I am fully convinced that God is in control and His plan is better than I could have ever imagined. Wow, what a great place to be.
Some might even call it ‘waiting on the Lord’. But, yes, I can hear the groaning over that word ‘wait’, even now as I am still typing. In our InstantPot, Microwave, Drive-Thru, Online-everything society, it’s rare that people enjoy waiting. Maybe our thought patterns around this ‘waiting’ need to be adjusted a bit. (speaking to myself here, ahem...)
Recall the words of the prophet Isaiah, in chapter 40:31 (NKJV, for you Pastor Doug):
“But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.”
That word wait is much more than just killing time by sipping a latte and reading a magazine. There is action to it. It involves having an expectation, anticipating with hope. It is bathed in a trust in the God of all creation, Yahweh, to do exactly as He has promised. When we wait with that kind of expectation, something amazing happens. We receive new levels of strength. I don’t know about you, but it really helps me to know that God has already made this space available to me...a place where I can be filled up again without condemnation.
Rest. In addition to the idea of waiting on the Lord, there is a picture of being still. No, I’m not talking about a nap...although the older I get, the more I appreciate a good nap. But I’m talking about setting aside the activity and focusing solely on the lover of my soul. Positioning myself to hear His whispers. I assure you, this one takes a lot of effort on my part. I can be physically still quite easily...but my mind can run a hundred miles an hour on any given day. Thankfully the Lord doesn’t criticize me when I make the effort to be still...He’s very patient...and He helps in the process. But as we grow in the Lord, it becomes more of our daily lives to be still before Him.
When I think about being still, I have an image that immediately comes to mind. And it’s not in the mountains, as you might think, even though I have great moments there. Several years ago, I visited the Redwoods in northern California with a friend. It was in January, so there was literally no one else there. The weather was decent, some clouds, but a mild temperature, and we stopped at one area to walk on a trail. Did I mention no one was there??? We walked about ten minutes or so, and I just stopped, and said to my friend, “Shhhh....listen....” It was the most profound silence I had ever experienced. There was no wind...no bird chirping...no rustling of branches or leaves...no car noise...nothing....just absolute silence. It felt like a holy moment in the midst of those magnificent trees. A few moments later I whispered to my friend, “This is a perfect picture of ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ “
“Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
So this ‘rest’ thing takes a little more shape now. It is being still before the Lord, waiting in expectation to meet with Him, assured that His whisper will calm the raging storm around me...or the one in me...knowing that He will never be shaken.
Such a challenge! Be still. And know. I am God. I am all you need. I am the everlasting One.
This was part of the Lord’s encouragement to me recently.
It’s NOT “Preach great sermons, and know that I am God”...
It’s NOT “Do wonderful miracles, and know that I am God”...
It’s NOT “Heal more people, and know that I am God”...
It’s NOT even “Go to more nations, and know that I am God”...
It’s NOT ‘do more...and then you will know that I am God...’, it’s simply, Be...Still.
Be My beloved.
Be a recipient of My mercy and grace.
Be immersed in My goodness.
Be aware of My favor.
Be assured I will never fail.
Be in union with Me.
Be with Me.
Jesus gave us an open invitation to come to Him and find rest in Him, and exchange our burden for His divine partnership.
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Hold on a minute...what does a ‘yoke’ have anything to do with rest? I thought we were supposed to stop working? How does this fit in with being still?
When we can join our life with His, He brings refreshing to our souls. We stop our striving, and let Him lead. He beckons us to come to Him. This is not only ‘come follow ME’...but also ‘come to ME’... We are no longer working for Him, but partnering with Him in this divine romance.
What He requires from us - is simply to be with Him. We get burdened down and pulled in a hundred directions when we are distracted. It can wear us down quickly. But, His presence is life-giving peace.
It’s no wonder that the enemy tries to disturb our rest, get us burned out, distracted and off course. Because when we wait on the Lord, and give our hearts the opportunity to rest in Him, we will be filled with new levels of strength. You could almost say that rest is our secret power.
Yes, we get to do all the stuff...preach and minister, and heal the sick, and go to the nations. He tells us there are good works designed for us to do that will bring Him glory. But first, we must be still. When we allow ourselves to push aside the distractions, and rest in Him, everything else can find its proper place. Our strength is in Him. Our victory is found as we quietly sit with Him and lean into every whisper of Heaven.
Remember Mary and Martha? Jesus was at their house, and Martha was “distracted” by all the work that needed to be done in order to get lunch on the table. (my paraphrase). Mary was content to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening, hanging on to every word He spoke. Jesus said, “only one thing is needed...Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (reference Luke 10)
We must make the time to rest with Him. To be still with Him.
Our doing comes from our being. If we get it backwards, everything else will be misaligned.
We must be still - be His - be filled - be joined to Him - be assured of His never failing love.
We must be at rest in Him. This is our safe place. This is our victory.
Even as I have been writing this, I’ve had too many things pull on me for attention. So I think I need to act like Mary for a while, and just sit with Jesus to hear His wonderful words. A quiet place of rest is beckoning.
Maybe you feel the need to rest with Him also. Now is the perfect time, to push aside the distractions, and simply be still. Draw near...listen...He is speaking.
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