Today's guest post is from Laura who blogs over at Lemon Green. Did I mention she lives in the UK? In my book that just automatically makes you awesome and cool. No work required (lol). I love how her posts are always thoughtful, encouraging, simple, but powerful. She's got a beautiful heart, with a love for Christ to match it.
The sun was shining, the sand was between my toes and the sea was lapping the beach gently. I had my best friend beside me, my Bible in my hand and God speaking to me in my heart:
“I wait quietly before God…”
In the middle of Venice beach, Italy, where my friend and I were currently on holiday, those words caught my attention and started me thinking about quietness, stillness and rest.
It’s something so simple and yet, the more I thought about it and how it resonated with my own life, it can be something quite difficult to do.
As my Nan always reminds me “Laura, you never let the grass grow under your feet.” It’s true! If you’re anything like me, your days will pass by in a blur of plans and commitments. Most of these good things, some things we’d rather not do and some things we just have to make time for out of necessity. We see friends, we spend time with family, we have church commitments, we have chores, we socialize, we keep going and going and going and…well, you get the picture.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to socialize and live life like this. God has given us this life with all its opportunities, relationships, experiences, world to explore…amazing. What a blessing. But, we need to make sure of one thing in amongst all the busyness of our days - we stop once in a while and we relax. We need to rest.
I totally believe God desires for us to rest. We are human beings. Yes, we like to think we can handle a lot, that we can cope and we’re managing OK…but then there comes the moments where we feel weak and we realize we are just that - human. Need I remind you that we are but fragile, clay jars? Clay isn’t indestructible, ladies and gents. We need to learn to be gentle with ourselves and take a time out.
In Genesis 2:2, it says God had finished His work of creation, so He rested.
Don’t you just love the simplicity of this? The Almighty, Creator God; author of time, guardian of our lives and lover of our souls…He simply kicked back, relaxed and rested. (The word ‘rest’ here is also translated as ‘ceased.’ More on that later.)
Now, remember Jesus told us that if we love Him, we obey Him and we are to do what we see the Father doing, yes?
“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself. He does only what He sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”
We apply this to loving others, to worshiping God, to serving, to ministering, to obedience, to friendship, to relationships and everything else in between…but why do we not apply it to resting?
If you look at what God did in Genesis, He specifically set aside this time of rest. Sometimes, we have to do the same. We must “search for peace and work to maintain it” (Psalm 34:14b) because a time of rest is a time of restoration. This quietness allows us to gather our thoughts, to collect our hearts and to be still.
Jesus wants us to stop and smell the roses once in a while! (Or perhaps more biblically speaking “browse in the gardens and gather the lilies” as in Song of Songs 6:2)
He wants us to have peace. But, dear children, we must very often put ourselves in a place where we can receive this restorative time. It is a matter of choice.
In Exodus 23:10-11, God tells us that even the land needs a time of rest:
“Plant and harvest your crops for six years, but let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year…"
Let’s get one thing straight, if the ground beneath our feet needs to rest, then how much more do we need to rest?! We’re human beings complete with so many emotions and masses of memories. We work hard at maintaining relationships, friendships. We invest in our children, we complete (most of our) chores. We work hard. Needless to say, we are incredibly detailed creations by God’s hand Himself!
“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous - how well I know it!”
So, how does this rest thing work?
However you want it to.
Maybe you need to have a time of fellowship and prayer with friends. You go ahead.
Maybe you just need to escape for a few hours, go for a walk and marvel at Creation with Jesus. Praise Him and thank Him for all the sights, smells and sounds that awaken your senses. You do that, sweetie.
Sometimes, we just need our hearts to be mended, restored, renewed and just sit with God as Mary did - at His feet, with His word, in prayer and in praise. Or simply in silence, allowing God to just hear the silent cries of our hearts. So patiently wait. He will come. He desires nothing more than to pour into us, to give to us so we can give to others.
God encourages us to live from the heart as they are the wellsprings that determine the course of our lives (Prov. 4:23) Our hearts are mighty when in the hands of our Savior, but are oh-so delicate at the same time! We are to guard them wisely.
And sometimes that wisdom tells us to stop, to sit at God’s feet and just be with Him. Or it tells us that we need a weekend away from the stress of work. Or it tells us to get a babysitter and escape for an evening with the wife/husband/friends/family. Or it tells us we need to watch a film and just be with ourselves.
My friend once did a Bible study on the well known Psalm 23 - The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. He got to verse 2 and his translation stated “He makes me lie down in green pastures…” He paused, turned to us and said, “You see, if we don’t choose to lie down in green pastures, He will make us lie down.”
I believe that sometimes God does force us to lie down in green pastures. We can often arrive at the point where we’ve done so much that we cannot do anymore. We are exhausted. We are weary. We’re tired. We’re emotional, highly strung, stressed out and if anyone dare add anything else to our to-do list we might just burst out crying. You know what I mean?
Normally at this point I start to feel ill, quite literally. And we always pray for healing, don’t we? Perhaps we get sick from doing too much because God wants us to rest, instead! In fact, just the other week I had reached this stage and had to take the day off work (which is major for me, considering that I never call in sick.)
Yup - God made me lie down in green pastures that day! (And yes - it was wonderful.)
Friends, be careful that you do not spend all your time serving the Lord that you forget what it is to rest in Him. Get the balance right, dear ones.
It’s important not just for us, but for others. God needs to bless us to be a blessing. God needs to give to us so we can give out. God needs to love on us in order that we can love on others. And we need to find rest sometimes in order to be filled with these things. Believe it or not, Jesus calls us to love and love and love abundantly. This is a massive calling and without rest it will exhaust you.
How about you make a commitment this week to have some you time?
Chill out and relax sweetheart…let God do the rest (…no pun intended.)