My son-in-law asked me what our plans would be for our time away. I told him that we would go to the beach, eat out, have some Dairy Queen, and basically do a whole lot of nothing. His response was, "That sounds so boring." I guess it does, but boring is just what we're aiming for on this trip. Most folks that I've talked to about our get-away had the same words of advice..."Get some rest."
It's kind of a sad state of affairs that in order to get some rest we have to pack our suitcases and drive hundreds of miles away from home.
Our DVR's are backed up with shows we haven't had the time to watch. Our e-mail boxes contain hundreds of entries that we just can't get around to reading. When I step away from Twitter for a few hours, a couple hundred posts are waiting for my return. (Until I decided that I don't have to follow each and every person that follows me.) Facebook is blowing up. My phone blinks from missed texts. And that's only the media part of our lives in the year of Our Lord, 2011.
We work. We raise children. We have spouses to love and care for. We volunteer. There are groceries to buy, lawns to mow, houses to clean, errands to run, books to read, laundry to wash, appointments to show up for, and people in our lives that need tending to. We're overworked, over stimulated and over-over-overly in need of rest.
But what do you think? Do you think it's possible that we can be at rest without hitting the highway and getting away from it all? Can we be at rest right in the middle of life and all it's craziness?
The Bible talks a lot about rest. The word "rest" is mentioned 275 times in 265 verses of the King James Version of the Bible. I wanted to search out some of these instances so that I could find the secret to living a life characterized by rest. Rest amid busyness. Rest amid problems. Rest amid sorrow. Rest amid being pulled in a hundred different directions. Rest from the noise, the clamor, and the bombardment of the world around me. You and I don't have the luxury of being on never-ending holiday, so we need to find a way to live in rest, in the daily Mondays through Fridays of our lives; day after day, month after month, year after year.
More often than not, we feel like David when he penned these words, "I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest--I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and the storm." (Psalm 55: 6-8) But what if it's just not realistic to run away? What if...
What if we could find rest in the goodness of God? David did his fair share of running and hiding, but he also comforted himself in those times when he spoke a reminder to, "Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you." (Psalm 116:7) Look at the Message: "I said to myself, "Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings. Soul, you've been rescued from death; Eye, you've been rescued from tears; And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling." We can find rest by meditating on every good thing that the Lord has done in our lives. Being reminded of the Lord's goodness to us in the past, will slow the pulse a bit when we are anxious about the future, and during those times when we're feeling overwhelmed.
What if we believed God? The nation of Israel fell in the desert and "were not able to enter [God's rest], because of their unbelief." (Hebrews 3: 19) What if we could truly believe that God is sovereign over the affairs of our lives; that He has ordered each of our days according to His plans and purposes, and that nothing reaches us without being sent from Him, or allowed to first pass through His loving hands? What if we believed every single stroke and punctuation mark of His Word about who we are in Him, about His priorities for our lives, and about what He would have us pay attention to and take care of on a daily basis?
How often do you ask God what He wants to do on any given day? More often, I think we tell Him what we're going to do, and hope that He tags along. We might find that we can truly do "all things through Christ who gives us strength" (Philippians 4: 13), when those "things" are His "things". A lot of our hairiness is of our own making. We try to do it all, being everything to everyone, adding task upon task to our "to do" lists, and end up stressed out, burnt out, and just plain old out. Believe that God wants to be involved in every bit of the minutia of your life. Involve Him. Include Him. He will never give you so much to do that you keel over from exhaustion. He wants you to have boundaries that are set up according to the parameters of His Word. Your Bible has something to say about every situation, problem, and question in your life. What if you believed God and His Word today? Might it give you some much needed rest?
What if you made spending time with God the first thing on your "to do" list each and every day? Jesus said these beautiful words over 2000 years ago and He is still speaking them to you today. "Come to me, all you 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." (Matthew 11: 28-30) The Son of God Himself knew that this principle was vital, rising early every morning to spend time with the Father. If Jesus needed this precious time of fellowship with His Father, we certainly cannot begin to fool ourselves into thinking that we don't.
Quiet time with God ... well, there's nothing like it. Praising Him for Who He is and all that He has done gets your eyes fixed on Him, and away from the anxious thoughts about what is pressing ahead of you on any given day. Confessing your faults to Him, in honesty and repentance, will give you the freedom to get up and spend your day without guilt, shame or regret, because you will be secure in His forgiveness. Telling Him all of your concerns, praying for what is ahead, and placing the coming day in His hands takes the pressure off of you. He will carry the yoke with you. You will feel His presence, sense the impartation of His wisdom in whatever you face, and know that His Holy Spirit is right there with you. Ask Him how He wants you to order your day, what really needs doing, and what has no value at all and can be forgotten. He will be your Guide. He will be your Good Shepherd. Might that bring you some much needed rest?
My man and I will enjoy our four days away, that's for sure. But the majority of our days aren't spent on a get-away vacation. I'm going to work on implementing these Biblical principles of rest on the other 361 days of the year. Won't you join me?
"Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6: 16)
Coming August 31, 2011