Tag Archives: rest

Pushing Through … and When to Say “Enough” (Guest Post)

Know when to push through, and when to say "enough"

[image via Pixabay]

Pushing Through … and When to Say Enough

by Steph Beth Nickel

Many of us have a difficult time saying no when asked to do something—even if we really don’t have enough time or energy to take on one more thing, no matter how small.

And, as Christians, a whirlwind of thoughts may rush to mind:

  • What if this is an opportunity God has placed before me?
  • What if I miss something He has for me?
  • If I have the ability to do what is being asked of me and there’s a need, isn’t that enough indication that I’m supposed to do it?

And what about those other questions, those questions we may not actually verbalize?

  • What will so and so think of me if I say no?
  • Who will do it if I don’t?
  • I’m supposed to go “the second mile.” Right?

I’ve recently experienced the necessity to do both: to say enough and to push through. And I believe both decisions were the right ones to make at the time.

Last weekend, for a few reasons, I didn’t get away on my annual writers’ retreat. However, I did deem it a “staycation.” I didn’t clean the church or attend the Sunday service. I didn’t cook for my family and only cleaned the kitchen because I wanted to, not because I expected or required it of myself. I did some writing and reading I wouldn’t have done otherwise and headed out of the house with my laptop to do so out of my day-to-day environment.

I also vegged more than I possibly should have, but all in all, it was a very good weekend. I got some physical rest and some mental rest, which may have been even more important.

This week, however, was different. My hubby generously shared his cold. I spent the day Tuesday down and out, sleeping and binge-watching Netflix. I didn’t have the ambition to do anything else. While I’m still fighting this virus, which has decided to settle in my chest, I was able to put in a full day Wednesday and Thursday and am facing another full day today.

This weekend promises to be a busy one. And although hunkering down for some extra rest sounds like a great idea, I am so very thankful that the Lord is giving me the wherewithal to focus on one task at a time and push through. Because this is not my natural tendency, there is no doubt that He deserves all the glory.

So, how can we tell when it’s right to decline a request and when we should step up?

Here are a few questions we may want to ask ourselves:

  • Have I prayed about it?
  • Will it jeopardize my current responsibilities?
  • Will it be a “one and done” project or will it lead to a long-term commitment?
  • How long will it actually take?
  • Do I know someone else who would enjoy taking on this task?
  • What is my real motivation to say yes?

These are only a few of the questions we could ask ourselves. What are some others that come to mind? (Please scroll down to add your suggestions.)

Tweetables

Know when to say enough and when to push through. (click to tweet)

Will taking on this project jeopardize your current responsibilities? (click to tweet)

Have you prayed about it? (click to tweet)

6 ways to tell when to say enough and when to push through. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Soul-Rest

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:28-29, NLT*

This much-loved and often-quoted passage brings comfort and hope. Most times we focus on words like ‘rest, teach, humble, gentle,’ and again ‘rest.’ We skip over the ‘yoke’ part.

I’ve often heard the teaching about the yoke being for two oxen, and how a new, untrained animal would be paired with an experienced one to learn how to pull the plow. Jesus, the thought goes, is the experienced teacher, and we, learning to work alongside Him, are the novices.

That makes good sense, but let’s look at the yoke for a minute. Jesus says it’s His. He may or not mean He’s wearing it, since He did indeed come to serve by showing us how to live for God.

It’s also His because the Teacher, Shepherd, Suffering Servant is also the Master.

On our own, we get frazzled, weary, and definitely overburdened. The soul-rest Jesus offers isn’t about collapsing under a shade tree for a nap, though. It’s about dropping the loads we were never designed to carry and taking up the load He has for us.

There’s still work involved, but now we’re working under the direction of a Master who loves us, a God whose compassion sent Him to die to rescue us. He knows our weakness, and His Spirit gives us strength.

Sovereign Lord God, You are our rightful ruler and King. Forgive us for the times we try to live under our own leadership, and the stresses and messes we get into. Help us to surrender to Your authority, and open our spirits to Your Spirit’s direction and strength. Thank You that the path of serving You is a path of fulfillment and soul-rest.

This song from Matt Maher sums it up: “Lord, I Need You.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Rest from the Ordinary

You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 5:13-14a, NLT*

Note the extra word the NLT adds here: “Your ordinary work.”

Rest. He insists on it. God rested on the seventh day of creation, not because He needed it, but because we would need it. Because otherwise we’d find ways to go nonstop in the pursuit of our “ordinary” work.

Stopping becomes an act of faith as well as obedience. It’s a sign to us, and to others, of God’s trustworthiness and His care for us. It means we trust Him to help us accomplish the “ordinary” work He has for us in the other six days.

Truly resting and trusting means not just stopping the work for a day. It means stopping thinking about the work for the day. Otherwise our minds keep working, and we miss the point.

Choosing rest makes us see where our worship and affection really lie – and where they belong. It can refocus us on what’s truly important, taking our focus off ourselves and pointing us back to God. It may reveal a few things that need trimming from our schedules. It also recharges us to return to work with new energy and stamina.

Worship is a key part of soul-rest and restoration. Other aspects of a day of rest dedicated to God may mean different things to different people.

Without legalism, and with daily resting in His presence as well, how might we expand our understanding of a designated day of rest?

God our Creator and our Shepherd, You know our limitations better than we do. You know we need rest of body, mind, and spirit, and You know how we can turn our own agendas into mini-gods if we’re not continually reminded of our true allegiance. Thank You for being the kind of God who rests His people instead of grinding us into the ground. Thank You that You desire relationship with us: our love, not just our labour. Teach us what it means to rest, including how to carve out a day of rest in our fast-paced world. May our obedience be a sign for us and for others of Your goodness.

The key to rest is the invitation of Jesus to “Enter the Rest of God,” sung here by Brian Doerksen.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Review: Simply Tuesday, by Emily P. Freeman

Simply Tuesday, Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World, by Emily P. FreemanSimply Tuesday, by Emily P. Freeman (Revell, 2015)

Subtitled “Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World,” Simply Tuesday calls readers to live in the everyday moments without the pressure to perform or to push on to the next big thing. Even the cover art, a quiet bench with birds and dragonflies, calls us to slow down.

Sections consider our home, work, relationships and souls, as well as a vision for what’s ahead. Readers are invited to find ourselves and our loved ones in the present, and to be present to Jesus with us. The book is part memoir and part an exploration of Christian living, shared by one who’s still learning through life (as opposed to one who’s nailed the answers).

It’s approachable and easy to relate to, an invitation to embrace and celebrate our smallness instead of condemning ourselves for our humanity. My favourite lines:

What gives moments meaning is not the moments themselves but the presence of Christ with us in the midst of them. (p. 47)

True belief is movement toward God even in the midst of confusion or frustration or fear. (p. 78)

I can’t prevent storms from coming, but I can decide not to invent my own. (p. 209)

Emily P. Freeman writes with a transparency and a conversational style that will be familiar to anyone who follows her blog. Something I hadn’t noticed in her blog posts that made the book a little harder for me is the fluidity with which she shifts from past to present and back again. We do this in conversations, to add immediacy: “Fifteen years ago, I’m working at a local high school… It’s morning and the bell rings…” (p. 206) In printed form, I find this jarring. Maybe it’s the editor in me.

Simply Tuesday offers refreshment for anyone struggling in the try-hard life while her soul aches for a simpler pace and a bit of fresh air. It’s not anti-performance or opposing busyness. Instead, it’s a glimpse of what life might look like if we began to nurture the small things in our lives and if we accepted ourselves as who we are instead of always pushing to be more than we are. Highly recommended for weary souls.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Rest or Rush? 4 Links that Resonated with Me

Photo of a peaceful bench in a park, with the words "Be still in His presence, and know that God is good."

photo credit: Janet Sketchley

It’s been a while since I’ve posted links to things I’ve read online that have encouraged or resonated with me. Apparently, there’s a name for this sort of post: curated content. I just call it passing on material that I think you might like.

I collected these links a year ago but didn’t do anything with them. It was good for me to go back and re-read these blog posts, because resting and rushing are timeless topics.

Here goes:

Ginny Jaques unpacks “four elements of God’s rest that can revitalize us and bring fresh excitement into our walk with Him.” Something About the Joy: Four Steps to Finding True Rest

To view it from the flipside, Carolyn Watts offers 3 Sure-fire ways to burn out.  (at Hearing the Heartbeat)

Brenda Wood asks us, Why Rush? (at Family and Faith Matters)

And Jeff Goins shares 3 Lessons We Learn While Waiting (an excerpt from his book, The In-Between, at Goins, Writer)

A Quiet Moment with God

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”
Psalm 46:10, MSG*

Traffic noise: motors, horns, someone’s booming stereo. Dust. Exhaust fumes. Movement everywhere.

We get used to navigating life in the middle of it all. This verse caught my attention, invited me to take a time out.

Then I saw this tweet from Sheila Wray Gregoire:

It’s about marriage, but it applies just as well to a Christian’s relationship with God. We get so caught up in the “traffic” of daily life, the things we’re doing for God. Sometimes we drift into managing our responsibilities in our own strength (we all have stories of how well that works–not!). But even when we’re praying about it, committing the day and its needs to God, working with Him and for Him, it can get to be all about the work. The responsibilities.

Yes, we want to please God. We love Him, and He’s given us so much. But it’s easy to forget that this isn’t all He wants. It isn’t even the most important part.

God wants quality time with us. (Click to tweet)

Just like the husband and wife, the friends who work or study together, we can’t let it all be about doing—even when there are a million things to do. We need to pull back, “step out of traffic,” “be still and know” He is God. (Did you recognize the verse from The Message paraphrase? I didn’t!)

Some people schedule a daily “appointment” with God so their agendas don’t fill up and crowd Him out. I start with a morning prayer and reading, but you know, that’s starting to feel like the morning meeting with the Boss. Important, but needing to be realigned. Reinforced.

Step one: I need to slow down and enjoy that quiet time. Reflect more on who God is. Worship. Enjoy His presence.

Step two: It’s time to go back to having a tea date with God later in the day. No planning the rest of the day, just a pause for togetherness. Maybe with a worship song to help me focus, or maybe in silence.

God our Creator and our Shepherd, teach us to be still and to know that You are God. Help us abide in You, delighting in Your presence. Forgive us for what we’ve missed in our frantic pace. Help us to work diligently for You and in Your strength, but help us first and foremost to set our hearts on You and to let everything else flow out of that relationship.

A good prayer as we step back from the noise is Michael W. Smith‘s song, “Draw Me Close to You.” If you have 4 ½ minutes for an experiment, try this: listen to the song, concentrating on the Lord, without doing anything else. No checking email, no deciding what to look at next. Just 4 ½ minutes of you and God. (I confess I found it really hard!)

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

 

Living Rest

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1, NLT*

Rest. Soul-rest, rest from anxiety and striving. The kind of rest implied in “Be still and know that I am God.

How do we get it?

Live. In God’s care.

This isn’t a pause or a passing-through. We need to consciously live… abide… dwell… in His shelter.

It requires gratitude, confidence in God, hope and trust in Him. It enables us to bring Him our needs as a child to a loving parent: with assurance that He listens, loves and knows best.

God who loves us and who is our Good Shepherd, help us live in Your shelter. Your power is great and You are all wise. Teach us who You are, so we can trust You more. Help us rest in Your care.

Here’s Steve Green with “Jesus, I am Resting, Resting.”

*New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

6 Links on Living Slower, Plus a Song

Rainbow: be still and trust GodAt The Write Conversation, Edie Melson encourages us to Be  Still and to realize that there is Time Enough.

At Michael Hyatt’s Intentional Leadership blog, he explores The Practice of Stillness.

At The Kill Zone, Jordan Dane shares Ten Simple Relaxation Techniques and Stress Relievers for Writers.

At This Day With God, Mark Shields offers simple advice on Using Time Wisely.

At Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts invites us to live gently, not urgently.

Bonus song: Here’s a surprisingly peppy call to Be Still, from Canadian singer-songwriter Carolyn Arends. It’s so catchy, it’ll get in your head and remind you all day to slow down. 

Rest. Is it possible?

Rest — physical and spiritual — can be an elusive hope. Here are five helpful links I’ve read lately:

rest: tranquil ocean sceneSheila Seiler Lagrande says “We can’t earn rest any more than we can earn salvation. So let’s show ourselves some grace, shall we?

Grace Fox shares the secret to a restful sleep.

Bonnie Leon reminds us of the peace that comes when we remember God is always with us.

Mary deMuth encourages us to Say No. Rest.

Reba J. Hoffman, PhD tells us it’s crucial to develop the habit of stillness.

5 Links to Rest Your Soul

Photo credit: Janet Sketchley

Here are five posts that have spoken peace to me recently. Enjoy!

From Mary DeMuth at Live Uncaged: Free People Rest. Do You?

From Carolyn Watts at Hearing the Heartbeat: When You Wake Empty and The Only Safe Place to Start Your Week.

And from Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky: 5 Ways to Breathe in a Breathless World and  The Kind of Faith that Changes Your Life.