This month’s focus on rest points out its value and why we need it to live a full healthy life in every aspect of our being. Some of the information may be new, but perhaps more of it has been reminders of things we heard, read, or intuitively knew from somewhere along the way. Many of us have picked up the reminders and reset our internal GPS toward prioritizing rest again perhaps and yet wondered if it would be like so many other times where we can start out well and then get pulled off course again. The enemy of our souls would want us to believe that we cannot change our pattern of busyness and distraction, but that is another of his lies.
“We can change. People say we can’t, but we do when the stakes or the pain is high enough. And when we do, life can change. It offers more of itself when we agree to give up our busyness.”Anne Lamott
Most of us have looked at the past two pandemic years with its challenges and what we were denied or lost in the process and then looked at what tried to keep attaching to us. It wasn’t just the new strains of a virus seeking to create another layer of anxiety or fear, but the anxiety and fear itself that was pulling us off course from being centered in our faith and belief system. Some of the challenges to be more effective at defeating it may well have been related to life before the pandemic even started. We were busily going along with our daily lives and rarely taking time to rest in any of the areas we need it to thrive. The lockdowns or restrictions didn’t really give us rest because of all the attendant emotions connected with them.
Our confinement did not accomplish much true healthy rest for us in most cases even though it curtailed the busy lives we were living prior to then. We were not only dealing with uncertainties on all sides but going through separation from the daily routines and calendars we lived by.
The “aftermath” (if that is even where we are) has been discovering there are more variants of the virus to come and the consequences of it with inflation, job issues, ongoing school issues (not to mention new war threats to fill the headlines).
Have we even stopped to consider how much distraction is going on continuously? Have we recognized the cost of that and the division that has arisen in greater and greater amounts as well?
If so, we should shake off the malaise of all this and recognize the enemy has been slowly but effectively eroding what he fears most – consistency in our focusing on and filling ourselves with the presence of God. He knows that is key.
“God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”C.S. Lewis
Lewis’ words from Mere Christianity points to the key. We were designed to run optimally on Him. If our lives become filled up with things – even very good things – our time of sitting in his presence, resting, doesn’t happen with any regularity. We may not recognize how much has been eroded until a crisis hits and we recognize our peace, faith, and hope are not as steady as we thought.
Many of us have not spent enough time in the holy place, the sacred place, alone with Him loving Him and giving Him space to love us as well.
It can be easy to feel we can’t take that time, even 5 minutes, in each day where we are not reading the Bible, studying, or going through our prayer list to simply just be with Him. We find it easier to find time to schedule a coffee date to just be with a friend more often than we sometimes put on our calendar to spend with the One who is not only our Savior and Lord but wants to be closer to us (as close as breathing). He wants us to enter and be with Him in the secret place He has for us, to restore our soul, and fill us with his presence.
“The secret place is a holy place close to God. It is the place where His presence becomes as real to you as the person sitting beside you. It is a place of intimacy, trust, love, and continuous fellowship with the Lord. It is a place He wants you not only to find but ultimately to dwell in. It is the sanctuary of the well rested. The place you kick off your shoes to step on holy ground. He wants you to get so comfortable in this place that you see it as the place where you belong, the place where you abide.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
These difficult and darker days upon the earth that we live within cause more than a few to talk about whether the Lord’s return is near. We know we cannot know the time or the hour, but certainly each day brings us closer to that. And when Jesus talks about the end of days in Matthew and how difficult times can and will be He also tells the story (parable) of the ten virgins or bridesmaids (that’s us if we are his) in the beginning of Matthew 25. The importance of having our lamps filled with oil for whenever He may suddenly appear is unmistakable as we read the passage. We are the containers, and we are to be filled with Him.
A recent podcast by John Eldredge on this passage reminds us of things like our busyness and the challenges we have been facing in the past two years can be what depletes the oil within us. The oil represents Christ’s presence within us and for that to be refilled and replenished means we will be resting in his presence, that secret, sacred place. I think David understood that when he wrote Psalm 23.
“Yahweh is my best friend and my shepherd.Psalm 23 (TPT)
I always have more than enough.
2 He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss.
3 That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me the right path
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
4 Even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
5 You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
you give me all I can drink of you until my cup overflows.
6 So why would I fear the future?
Only goodness and tender love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!”