I was visiting with a dear friend at the YMCA early this year when the topic of rest came up. She was telling me how the winter season just makes her want to slow down. She wants to hibernate and be cozy with books. Aside from making me sleepy due to the cloudy skies and stir-crazy because of the cold days, winter does not have that effect on me at all. She contended that maybe this season is for us to really rest because when else do we rest. Spring, summer, and fall are such busy seasons. Winter is just about the only time we get to press pause.
It made me start to consider the idea of rest and what it means to me. Do I ever get any true rest?? I have tried to purposely rest and found my mind spinning many times. I have experimented this year by getting prepared for a Sunday rest. I decided to double cooking in the crock-pot, so I only have to cook one meal (I really enjoyed it BTW).
And I also decided something a bit crazy. Despite having started my blog and having a lofty 2018 goal of posting once per week, I decided to can the goal and wait until I am hearing from the Lord to write. I canned all 2018 goals for more general topics of interest. Instead of spending time creatively coming up with blog topics, I’m just waiting to have ideas delivered to me. Fortunately, I got some rest from the Lord when I handed my blog project over to him.
The true rest is in God. A rest from the world is nearly impossible, especially with kids involved. If the works of the world don’t fall to me they will fall to someone else inevitably. No one magically came to do the dishes on Sundays when I double cook!
I happened upon this bible verse in my study time recently. And I wasn’t specifically studying rest. Don’t you love when that happens?
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
God is speaking to Israel and he is telling them where their faults lie, what they have been doing, and what he is prepared to do for them.
Other versions use “returning” instead of “repentance” and the Amplified version modifies trust with the word “confident”. Confident trust.
How many times am I just spinning on my own, trying to do my good deeds, and please God? How many times am I truly repentant and resting in his mercy, unable to offer much? Which one am I more comfortable with?
Recently, I have truly meditated on this verse. I have chewed on it and pondered it daily. When I have things to repent of I can condemn myself and then busy myself with tasks to “make up” for my sins. But instead recently I have chosen to repent and rest. And I’ll be honest, it has been quite awkward.
You see, God is the one who saves. We are the ones who repent. It is not our job to work our way to heaven. We are fortunately on the receiving end of the biggest and best gift ever given. And our job is to simply return to him and rest with it in our hands.
Being quiet is difficult when the world around us is loud. And trusting is difficult when the world around us says “Solve the problem!!!” There are many squeaky wheels out there begging for a fix.
The solution to a lot of our problems is repentance. The solution to a lot of our problems is rest. The solution to a lot of our problems is quietness and trust.
Keep messing up in life? Repent and confidently trust Him.
Feel overwhelmed and burdened, busy and burnout? Rest and be quiet in him.
I could keep going on and on couldn’t I? I feel like this is the back of a shampoo bottle.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
Repent, rest, quietly confidently trust.
Jesus echos the verse in Isaiah when he speaks to his disciples in Matthew 11:28-30 , “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.” (NIV)
Let’s keep coming back to him when we are weary and burdened, when we deeply need rest. But even more, let’s come to him daily, minute by minute. Even when we think we’ve got it all handled. Let’s come to him and learn from him. Let’s be lead by his easy and light yoke.
Well, today sure was a day. So many near misses, mishaps, and an overwhelming amount of things to be thankful for.
Rewind to last night, we were able to hit the hay around 11 P.M., which is a great record Santa-ing time in our house. Baby girl had a fever yesterday and her nose is running like a faucet today.
J and I woke up at 6 o’clock and we were able to watch the documentary The Star of Bethlehem before the kids came down at 7:30. Before we started our stocking adventure, I put a quick crescent roll breakfast casserole in the oven- my usual standby is cereal. But we were out. The oven I pre-heated for the casserole in had a large spill of a cookie cake that an unnamed child burned last night (Jesus’ birthday cookie cake). So, smoke was billowing out of it and we had to open the doors of the house and turn the fan on to get the smoke out.
So, I baked the casserole in the other oven and set a timer. We started the stocking opening time and I didn’t hear the timer go off. Until, I started to smell it. I had overcooked the casserole and then noticed that I had forgotten the cheese. So, I put cheese over the top of it and left it in the oven for a minute-it was more than a minute-leaving the cheese overdone too.
All of these things, I took with a chuckle. I passed the hot cocoa out (who needs breakfast right) and chopped up some apples to offer to the littles who were eating their stocking candy already.
Then it came time for presents. It was so much fun to see the humorous Dollar Tree gifts that the littles had picked out for everyone. Some were quite fitting, others not so much. Our oldest daughter received a much desired Ipod Touch. It was a gift that I have had ready for her for some time, but she had not been able to receive it with grace yet. And the time had finally come. I’m thankful that she was able to receive it this year. It is a dinosaur of a device and she won’t even be able to download apps on it, just her music, because the operating system is so old. Even so, she was thankful.
It was then I realized that my bedroom was very chilly, the fire in the living room was keeping us very toasty. I made a visit to the thermostat and it showed that the the furnace was not keeping up. Hmm…
So, J made a trip to the attic and outside to do an investigation and came back with a part in his hand. “Here’s the culprit”, he says. Thank goodness we have bundles of firewood, two fireplaces and a gas heater. We will be warm in some of the rooms today, just not in the whole house.
Then someone got a black eye after being pushed into a play table by another someone. I started to be frustrated and hangry. Discipline and icepacks were dished out and we were on to our traditional sushi Christmas dinner. It’s 4 o’clock now and I am so thankful for Grace, fans, multiple ovens, firewood, fireplaces, engineers, and icepacks.
I wonder to myself what hiccups went on at the stable scene on Christmas day. Mary, a young hardly-woman was giving birth for the first time in a stable more than likely away from family. Was there a female in the town who helped tend to her or did she and Joseph manage alone? Did she ruin her clothes with blood and birth fluid? Did the stable smell make her nauseous during labor? Where did she find the cloths to swaddle Jesus in? Was it too cold? Was there wood for a fire? What did she think when the Shepherds showed up to the scene? Was everything just perfect that day or did she handle all of the mishaps with Grace? Or did she, like me, handle some with Grace and a chuckle but others with frustration just like me?
We’ll never know exactly what she was like because so little of her words are recorded, however, we do know her song. It is declaration of devotion to her Lord before Jesus was born. It’s a song that acknowledges her praise to God’s glory and providence.
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
We know it couldn’t have been all peachy for Mary that Christmas day. She suffered in birth and she suffered in her first-born’s death. She was present at his crucifixion, the time that he fulfilled the purpose. She knew before his birth that he would save us from our sins. She saw him maimed and disfigured from beatings and strung up on the tree like a criminal. She saw him take his first breath of fresh air in that stable and she saw him breathe his last on the cross.
Praise be to God, that she also was a witness to his resurrection. She was able to see his glorified body and witness the comforter, the Holy Spirit, come to reside within. She saw the miracles, the conversions. And in the end, she entered into an eternal rest with her son and her Savior. Romans 8 lays out the plan that she was a part in. Read it in light of her obedience.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[j] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.