Wrestling with Rest

Do you ever pray for rest and then when it comes despise it?

No? Just me then?

For a few years I felt the overwhelming sense of busy and hurried in my life. It felt like I was sprinting for an entire marathon, and my entire being was just slap out of energy. I felt drained, emptied out fully in every part of my life. It as so bad that my emotions couldn’t be kept in check on anything and I was at a point of no longer caring if they were in check. I poured out to God that I just needed rest, I needed the breath that could only come in Him. I needed carrying and I needed the quiet of Him.

What I didn’t bargain for was an equal amount of wrestling with having rest over a particular season. The resting season He gave me and that I have found myself in for longer than I had drawn up, was turning into a bit of a wrestling match with Jesus. That I was done with the rest, the seeming quiet and the landscape that felt more like a desert than a dream.

We plead for rest and then when it’s given to us, it’s not how we expected it to be. We start wondering if God’s forgotten us, we doubt He has any good in this time for us, we question whether He is even with us in the quiet, the seeming silence of life. And so we start doing, start filling life with busy again because we have become people who cannot be still and know. We can’t revel in the rest He gives us, that He beckons us to with Him. We would rather carry the burdens than take on His yoke of of easy, His burden that is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Learning about rest in Him means that I am not in control, and let’s be honest, I never have been, but I like to lie to myself that I do have control. Learning from Him in a time of rest means I am taking on a gentle and humble heart, just as He spoke in Matthew, one that doesn’t continue in the fretting, one that knows that I am the star nor am I in any control. What we find in rest is waiting. A silent waiting where security, our security, isn’t dependent upon us but fully in Him.

Rest isn’t thrashing about, pointing fingers and accusing God of leaving us. It’s joy and gladness in being with Him in the waiting, in the giving of this time He has graciously bestowed. It is the very words of David that we can see as rest, what we are capable of in rest instead of wrestling with Him.

“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will You let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your Presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. “

Psalm 16:9-11 (NIV)

It takes learning to be in rest with Him, and not wrestling with the feelings of abandonment or aloneness. It takes choosing to rest firmly and securely in Him rather than attempts at a hostile takeover of my life. It means waiting in silence instead of lobbing doubts of His character at Him. The irony is that we were built to rest, and yet when He gives it to us we wrestle so hard against it because the world tells us we shouldn’t be waiting, shouldn’t be silent, shouldn’t be still. But stillness is where we know that He is God…where He is our security…where are filled with joy….where we are in His Presence.

busyness.

Busy.

That’s an easy response when someone asks how I am. But that’s not really a defining response.

No, we throw that around as a banner. Telling everyone just how busy we are, full schedules, running here and there, don’t have time to talk so we text short blurbs. Life coming in 140 characters all throughout the day and into the night.

We choose the life we live. We do. So many say they don’t have a choice in what’s been given them or they don’t have a say in how their life is lived. But that’s just not the case.

Reason being?

He gave us free will. We have the choice in our jobs, whether we have that job or not. Does that mean you don’t live as comfortably as you have gotten used to? Sure. But again, that’s a choice you make.

I wrestled with this thought for a very long time, as I myself talk about how busy I am. I wear it as a badge, using an excuse to not do other things because I am just too busy. Lately though I have been making the choice in how busyness affects my life. That also means how it affects my health, my spending and my mind.

Busyness has a trickle down effect that we often don’t see until we are hanging on by a thread, little sleep and nerves frayed. Over the last few weeks I have been intentional about the choices I have made, to spend time with the people I say matter…to take time to listen rather than talk about my schedule. To intentionally put my free time into the things I desire to pursue. To choose community and people over schedules and hurriedness.

Quickly I am finding that my free will choices become much more filling when I am choosing things that do not drain me, that don’t just add something to a block of my time but it adds life.

I don’t want to miss something in the busyness of life that may not slide by again. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to be His hands and feet to someone simply because I have this appointment on my calendar. I don’t want to rush through life simply to look back, with a few more pounds and a lot less fulfillment simply because I didn’t take a few beats to be intentional about what gets on my calendar (and what doesn’t).

That also means rest. Not laziness, but true rest. Which means on the weekends I am not checking emails as often, that I am not on my phone at dinner with friends, and I am most certainly engaging in active recognition of Him in every part of my life. It means that I am making decisions in order to give Him the firstfruits in my all life (work, play, community, rest). I choose that. I get that choice regardless of what others may believe about themselves, as we have that choice.

We have to be intentional about the choices and continue to focus on making them to reinforce it into a habit of our own making that lends to a healthier life, both spiritually and emotionally.

Comfort to Coals

So my friend Dustin wrote recently about firewalking and it’s been rattling around in my head more and more.

The worry over it hasn’t been the fact that God is calling me out to fire walk with Him into trials and situations. My feet, as well as my hands and knees, bear the calloused skin of prior walks (and crawls) through the coals. The callousness has caused for a while the appearance of uncaring, of complacency and settledness.

It’s shown comfort when there should have been a sloughing off and preparing once more. Yes, we build up the skin which has been exposed to flame…but only to recall and then peel it away for the next walk through fire.

We take the time to smooth out the roughness in order to lay bare the next layer of life, of learning, of walking through it with Him. Not to gloat, not to show off the burn marks, but just because we are called to the fires of life.

While a couch provides respite from life, it gives comfort and a sense of being unlike anything else…it can also entrap us into believing it is what we deserve. We find ourselves in the continual battle of turning to comfort rather than coals. Ultimately though, we are called from that “couch cushion fort” as my friend termed it, to the coals that burn away parts of ourselves, the parts that needed pulling away and preparing for the next moment, the next situation and the next life.

Do not forego rest in times following the testings of life, but don’t mistake that for excuses not to turn and prepare once more to set about the fire with Him. For He’s called us into it, not to leave us but to walk right along side us through it.


 

“And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”  He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

Daniel 3:23-25

Worn.

I don’t know what season of life you are in but lately it seems like many of us are in this time of weariness and wornness. (Not a word I know, but I’m making it one) I have been knocked down with a bad sinus infection/allergy attack/cold trifecta for the last week and a half. Work has been feeling very work-like in a sense, and life in general just seems to be taking a beating.

Much like this song says, “Life just won’t let up.” So today, I am just posting this song from Tenth Avenue North. It’s helped provide solace, a place of rest and quiet. Maybe you need that too today. Sometimes we just need to say “I’m worn” and leave it there.

The Plane! The Plane!!

On average there are roughly 375 flights that arrive and depart from Nashville’s BNA Airport daily. I would say about 30% of those can be heard from my house, daily. Many times they are low-flying and loud. In the five months I have been here, I have grown used to the sounds. I don’t take note of them nearly as much as I did when I first moved in. My former place was in the basement and I got used to the sound of people walking over my head. Now I no longer have that sound, and it’s odd that I don’t miss it-even though I had gotten used to it.

Do you ever notice that in your life?

You get accustomed to a sound, or a certain spot, or even a person that you often take for granted that it/they were not there before. Lately I have been reflecting on love with that lens. Specifically I have been thinking on God’s love and how familiar it is to me. It’s comforting, filling, and binding in my life.

However, one of my greatest fears as of late is that I have lost the meaning of His love. Because of it’s familiarity and consistency I have become numb to it’s existence in my life. I have rested on the fact of His love being ever present, without resting in His love. Knowledge and belief are two vastly different things, where knowledge can be mistaken for belief. Knowing something is true and believing something to be true are examples of that mistake.

My prayer for this moment is I would bask in His love, believing that His love resides in me, speaking through me, and pouring me out. May I never take for granted the love which so boldly pursued me.

Questioning Tuesday: The Fast

I know you’re not supposed to talk about fasting, that it takes the allure or the sacredness of the intent away. I normally don’t go with the flow on those things. I talk about things that you probably shouldn’t talk about with individuals because we only live once, we walk through life and choose to do so in community or alone. I choose community.

So I am taking a break from social media for the next week. I need some rest and refocus. That comes when you shut everything else off.

My question for you today is, when you need a break or quiet, what is the “thing” you have to shift away from or remove?