Learning to Rest

on Thursday, March 10, 2011

to Rest

I remember the day, a few years ago, I sat on my friends couch. Graeme and I were waiting, praying and hoping for our missions trip money to come through. It was a step of faith to apply for the trip because it was expensive, but we felt God leading us that way and were taking a risk. The friend was an awesome person, but we were constantly confronted with their concerns about finances. The concerns seemed so irrational. They had a massive house with a pool, several cars and lots of nice stuff. I admit I was constantly looking at their financial concerns from a seat of judgement, “if you would just sell one of your cars...” or “if you hadn’t invested in such an elaborate house.”

This day, the wife was ecstatic because a family friend found out that they were still waiting for the money to pay for her missions trip to Israel which was more expensive than our trip, btw. They had decided that they felt the Lord leading them to pay the whole shot! They were going to pay for her trip completely. I sat in my seat of judgement completely stunned. “How could God provide for her trip like this when we still had so much owing on ours.” “We have given up so much to be here and they seem to be giving up nothing.” She was so excited and I sat there doing everything I could to not gush with tears of resentment and jealousy.

(Sorry friend, if you know who you are) I hadn’t learned yet about the faithfulness of God.  I’d heard of it, but I hadn’t learned to count on it, trust it, expect it. I couldn’t see beyond my own need to love God for blessing her. Over the coming months I heard Bill Johnson’s messages on thankfulness, stewarding what you have been given and positioning yourself for increase by rejoicing with those who are blessed abundantly and beyond you. When we celebrate other’s victories we pull the testimony into our own life, calling out for all of heaven to hear “Do it again, Lord!” I learned that her blessing doesn’t mean that there is any less to go around to provide for me. Everything that God has in store for us is afforded according to His riches in glory! It’s like the sky is the limit! haha. How much more gloriously are the lilies of the valley clothed than Solomon arrayed in all his splendour? God was faithful to provide for our missions trip too in the end. In fact, we had to leave on our trip before it was paid for and while we were gone, an acquaintance felt God tell him to give a big chunk of money that he just inherited to pay off the rest of our trips. It was nearly a thousand dollars! I had never even met the guy. He just knew God wanted him to do it, so he did.

Over time, I came to find it easy to rejoice with those who celebrated. I almost proudly wore the badge of celebrating others fortune no matter where we were at because day after day I was seeing the provision and redemption of the Lord in my life. I knew that what God was doing for others was testimony of what He could do for me. I was coming to know the truth of the fact that there is always enough. And to celebrate another’s riches when I have lack is to set myself up for increase. I am learning to humbly celebrate my own abundance and my lack in anticipation of His provision.

I found myself tempted to go back to that seat of judgement and jealousy again today. I have been so tired and so busy, longing for down time and quality time with my family. I find myself dreaming of holidays with the kids and with Graeme. Several friends around me have been blessed recently with the opportunity to go on holidays. The first couple times that people shared their good news I was genuinely happy for them and able to rejoice, but there was a hint of envy while I longed for the same opportunities. Then another friend came today to share her excitement. They found an amazing deal online and just booked a holiday for their whole family. I was suddenly back in that place. “What about me, God?”

I was just realizing something about myself yesterday. I was thinking about my longing for a family vacation and asking myself what it is exactly that I am missing that leaves me so longing. I realized that I am missing fun, I am missing rest and I am missing connection. Part of me was believing that I am just so overworked that I am needing a holiday. There may be an element of truth to that, but my solutions aren’t as much answers as escapes. I’m realizing that I can’t run away every time stuff gets hard. This is life and it doesn’t stop and there is not going to come a day when all the struggle is over and life is like a Caribbean Holiday. I know that I need to learn to rest, to joy and to connect in the every days.

I found a journal entry from a very difficult season in my life, when my kids were small and I had extra kids living with me. I was noticing how everyday I was trying to plan my life around a time when things would get easier and every moment that I waited for the next season, I felt like I was losing time, losing life.

Today I find myself longing for a time when things will slow down, longing for a holiday, for spring break, longing for the end of this homeschooling season, or the end of the ministry school program, longing for the summer. But the further I look down the road, the more realistically I see that one season leads into another and you never really see anything finish, seasons just change and the demands and expectations change. I’m realizing that I can’t wait anymore. I can’t search for the quick fix, the magic pill. I’ve heard time and again to learn to love the process. I’m not quite there today, more just accepting that life is process and you can’t change it.

But …. but there are things you can change. I can change my today. I can’t go to the Caribbean, but I can take my son for a walk. I can choose not to think about what I have to do while I sit in the hot tub with Bailey. I can even go to the tanning salon and catch a few rays and some Vitamin D for a pick me up. I need to fight for a nap! When I’m tired and fighting to get everything done, I need to realize that I’m better when I’m rested, put on some soft worship music, try my best to shut off my brain and sleep. Hebrews 4:11 says that we are to strive to enter his rest. In fact, it is the only thing we are to strive for. So, if I’m stressed out and overtired I am being disobedient! Now that’s a crazy idea. Bill Johnson was sharing about the value of the night season, fixing your affections on the father before you sleep to let him minister to you in your rest. He quoted Psalm 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep...  Everything I need he can give me while I rest.

So I guess this blog is all about learning to rest. I’m learning that I don’t necessarily need a holiday, I need a lifestyle of rest. I need to redirect my focus to the point that my only striving is to enter His rest. I need to let Him be what I need to get everything done in the day while letting me be the human being that I am who needs sleep, fun and connection. I’m praying now that God will help me discipline myself for rest and muster up the focus for fun.

And now, I’m rejoicing in my friend’s holidays (all of them, today and a few years ago) and praying blessing and increase on them. I do it partly because I want to pull the testimony into my own life, but also because I am learning to see beyond my own need to be genuinely happy for them and their blessings. Because they  are some pretty awesome people and really do deserve the blessing. And I’m rejoicing in God’s faithful and miraculous provision for Bailey and her missions trip to Mexico in a couple of weeks. But, that one was the easiest to celebrate. Thankyou, Jesus.


Extraordinary Life! said...

Chris, this is sooo good! I've been thinking about how to more deeply pursue divine rest as well. It really is about process and enjoying the journey! Well written and very encouraging!

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