This is the fifth time I've tried to write this. Right now my house is a mess of cardboard boxes, baby toys and laundry that's been sitting on the dresser for three days. To be honest rest isn't something that comes easy these days.
Split in Two
When it comes to resting, I often feel split in two.
A part of me loves productivity. I like the rush that comes from accomplishing things. I stay up late baking bread, I scrub out old air conditioners with toothbrushes and attempt 1940's hairstyles. Some might say I'm ambitious. In the oh so true words of my mother-in-law, " You don't know how to slow down, do ya?" She's right.
The other part of me loves to sit outside. She finds life in nature and basks in the stillness of it. You'll discover her soul finds it's rest at the base of an old tree- feet bare and buried in the green grass, where the sun touches her toes and the tip of her nose. She loves rest.
Naturally these two have always been at odds and usually my more determinate self wins any battles that arise. I can rest later I'll say. I just have to get these things done first.
The problem with this sort of logic and bargaining is that later never comes. One to-do list leads to another, one activity to the next and soon what began as a commitment to keeping an orderly home becomes an obsession. With every checked off "to-do," comes with it a realization that something else needs to be done...and on and on...I'm left tired and depressed.
But what other solution do I have? If I don't do it, it won't ever get done.
Like a Bird
The Lord's commitment to rest and his subsequent commands to it are sobering.
"Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work... For in the six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it Holy."
I am so guilty reading all other nine commandments and taking them quite seriously. Do not steal, do not murder, do not lie, do not commit adultery and on and on but I have always glossed over "Remember the Sabbath day..." I think in my heart, "Yes, I really need to do this more, I'm not so great at it I need to get better at this..."
But the truth is my lack of rest is reflective of a deeper more insidious heart issue. My lack of rest says much about how I view God and how I view myself.
When I say things like, If I don't do this, it won't ever get done; when I feverishly run from one task to the next; when I wear myself down to the point of having hardly anything left, I am saying something.
I am saying that I am placing the weight of everything on me.
I am saying that I am my only hope.
I am saying, I don't trust God.
When I was praying over this idea of resting and trust, the Lord placed the image in my head of a wounded bird resting in the two large, strong hands of it's caretaker. It is small and is completely vulnerable. Perhaps it should fly away, better safe then sorry, but instead it rests because it knows it is needed and because it trusts that the one who holds it will take care of it.
To rest is to admit our need
This is how it is with the Lord. To rest is to admit our need and to admit how capable the Lord alone is to fulfill our needs. To recognize that He is good (Psalm 137:1) and that He is able (Ephesians 3:20) and that all the things that we feel need to get done, God is the one who gives us the strength, the wisdom and ability to do so. What will get done today is what He willed to get done. What doesn't, wasn't apart of His plan for us.
To Rest, is to Trust.
"The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, Saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when you come into the Land that I give you, the Land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather is fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of Solemn Rest for the Land.” Leviticus 25:1-5
I'm not going to lie. When I read this section of scripture I had a bit of a panic attack. I thought, a whole year of not harvesting!? A whole year to simply watch your fields succumb to disorder and for your crops, the fruit of all your labor, decay?
The Lord takes rest seriously.
This is an excerpt from commentary on Leviticus 25 by Matthew Henry:
"...God would hereby show them (the Israelites) that he was their landlord...that they were not proprietors, but dependents on their Lord. "
Rest, reminds us to whom our possessions belong; to whom we belong.
To rest means to take our hands off the steering wheel. To look at the dirty dishes in our sinks, the unfolded laundry sprinkled throughout our homes and say, "Lord, all of this is yours and I know that you will grant me the strength to accomplish what you desire for me to accomplish this day. I submit to your will because you are good in all you do and your way is perfect( Psalm 18:30)."
I can trust that all that I have and all that I am is the Lords because He purchased me on the cross (1 Corinthians 16:20). He took all the accomplishments that I am very proud of calls them for what they are: dirty rags (Isaiah 64:6); He exchanged for them a life washed white and truly perfect in Christ. He loves me and finds favor in me not because of the things I do but because I am covered with the blood of a completely righteous Savior and that righteousness is now mine in Him (Corinthians 5:21).
So today I'll take a step back from the to-do list, among the cries of a fussy baby and the distraction of blinking toys and unmade beds. I'll purposefully lay down my trusty pad of paper and pen and despite all logic and reason, I’ll sit down in his strong, perfect hands and lean into his heart as I read His word. I’ll scream back to the lies that tell me that my worth is found in what I do, and say, “ I am His! He is good and I trust Him!” It is only in Christ where I find the joy and strength to accomplish what the Lord desires and He is the best rest there is.
About the Author
Nichole hails from deep in the heart of Texas, although she spent most of her life moving around as a proud military brat and claims Nebraska as her home. She attended Florida State University and graduated with a degree in Music, emphasizing in Piano and Voice. After college, the Lord called her to full-time ministry, serving on staff with The Navigators at the University of North Texas. It was there she met and fell in love with her husband Patrick. She currently serves as the Music Minister at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Flower Mound, Texas. She spends most of her time loving on her family, including her baby girl Dorothy Jean, aka Dottie, blogging, baking, laughing till she can’t breathe, and discipling women.