Tag Archives: rest

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.

Rest: 5 links and a bonus quote

Here are some posts that have spoken rest to my spirit:

Tranquility: river rocks

Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia (photo credit: Janet Sketchley)

Margaret L. Been’s beautiful poem, “At His Feet.”

Emily Freeman’s “The Art of Rest” at (in)courage.

Rose Harmer writes about “Rest” at Under the Cover of Prayer.

At Roller Coaster Suspense, Marcy Dyer looks at exhaustion and priorities: “Noodled.”

And at Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts reminds us that it’s not about working harder and pushing through the pain. It’s about resting in God. Read “Gifts from Your Personal Trainer.”

Bonus: In Refresh: 19 Ways to Boost Your Spiritual Life, Ron Hughes explores the value of rest. He says:

“Sabbath rest … reminds us that we did not make the world, that we are not in charge, and that everything will not grind to a halt if we reduce our activity level. Sabbath is not a reward for us getting all of our work done … we can relax in our awareness that we trust God, not ourselves, to meet our needs.” [Refresh, pp. 151-152]

A Sign Between Us

Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.’
Exodus 31:13, NIV*

For a people liberated from slavery, being commanded to observe a weekly day of rest would be a definite switch.

The Old Testament is filled with visual aids: markers and activities that remind the people who God is and what He has done for them. Exodus 31:13-18 twice calls the Sabbath “a sign between us”.

Mark Buchanan (The Rest of God, Spiritual Rhythm) said recently that the Sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments that Christians don’t seem to think we need to keep. Not that we’re perfect at the other nine, but at least we either try or feel guilty about failing.

Ignoring the taint that legalism has given the Sabbath, I see some benefits to this gift from God:

  • work without a break is not healthy
  • identifying ourselves by our work isn’t healthy either
  • allowing work to take first place—making it an idol—is dangerously unhealthy
  • abstaining from work lets us be still and know that God is God, and it lets us seek Him

I think this is where the Sabbath (for Christians, Sunday or whatever day our work schedules allow us to observe) is a sign between us and God. It’s a spiritual marker that celebrates our freedom from slavery to the world’s ways and praises the God who rescued us.

And it reminds us that our God is good.

Holy and Almighty God, who chose Israel to show Your glory to the world, thank You for Jesus’ blood that makes a way for all people to belong to You. Thank You for the gift of Sabbath rest and its benefits to us. In the bigger picture, it’s still about revealing Your glory to all who can see: You rescue. Your way is best. You are a good Master.

Brian Doerksen’s song, “Enter the Rest of God,” is a gift too. He’s talking about way more than Sabbath rest, but let it be a balm to your spirit today.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Soul Rest

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.
Matthew 11:28-30, NIV*

The rural language of yokes isn’t as clear to me as a city-dweller in 2010 North America, but I’ve been told that farmers will pair a new ox with an experienced one to help the new one learn how to pull (and probably how to interpret and obey the farmer’s guidance).

Usually when I think of learning from Jesus I think of His teachings, although He was a living model of following the Father. (Paul wrote about following Jesus’ example too.)

Today it’s the example, the attitude, I see He wants me to learn. Yes, there’s the doing, but it’s too easy to overlook or neglect the how.

Jesus demonstrated a life that’s gentle and humble in heart. He didn’t try to control or dominate. Although by His nature as God  He has that right, He modeled submission to, obedience to, and trust in God the Father.

Rest for my soul indeed! Trying to be mentally in control, pushing to do it my way, is not just unsatisfying and unproductive, it’s soul-draining.

Father, let me learn from the Son, and be led by the Spirit, to live the way You intended, and to come into Your rest.

An appropriate prayer this week is “O Master Let Me Walk With Thee,” (Words: Washington Gladden, 1879. Music: Henry Percy Smith, 1874.)

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Out Through the Rubble

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28, NIV*

I got away for a much-needed spiritual retreat last weekend. Our speaker challenged us to ask God to take down the walls we’ve built, and to let His living water flow out through us instead of being dammed up.

As part of this process, she asked us meditate on Scripture. Not sure what verse to choose, I thought, “Come to Me”. Not a verse, but a fragment. Okay.

Come to Me.

It said some things that meshed with our weekend:

  • step out through the rubble of your wall;
  • you need to be with the people you’ve walled out; and
  • Jesus is waiting there to welcome you (not that He’s not with you in your self-made prison too).

It wasn’t until later I recognized the phrase as coming from Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28. But don’t they fit beautifully?

If we’re struggling to hold up a wall, we’re definitely weary and burdened. It’s hard work. And it never ends.

Trusting Jesus to be in charge gives us rest. Taking down the walls lets us be ourselves: the gifts God has for those around us.

Father, I praise You for Your grace and mercy to bring us back into relationship with You, and for Your healing and restoration in our lives. Thank You for setting us free, for equipping us to live with one another and with You. The world may look out of control, but You are sovereign. Teach us to live trusting in You, listening for and confident in Your leading.

I had trouble finding a song for this, but Francesca Battistelli’s “Free to Be Me” captures the feeling of how I want to live on the other side of the rubble.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Be Still, My Soul

I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131: 1b-2, NIV*

This is one of those psalms God uses to remind me to draw nearer to Him, to learn to abide in Him. After He nudged me through 2 Timothy about needing to steep in His presence, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see these verses show up in my daily reading calendar.

Two more gentle invitations to abide arrived in my in-box, posted on other blogs. At Under the Cover of Prayer, Judith Lawrence’s post, “Contemplatives Without Cloisters,” lures me with the promise of ongoing communion with God, even amid life’s ordinary routines.

“The call is to prayer, to be at one with the Sacred at any and every given moment of the day or night.”

Meanwhile, at Other Food: Daily Devo’s, Violet Nesdoly posted “Walking with God”:

“When we walk with someone we go in the same direction. We move at the same speed. A walk conjures pictures of conversation and fellowship along the way. It is exercise non-strenuous enough that we don’t tire quickly — a relationship for the long haul.”

Violet’s post includes a selection of quotes from Andrew Murray. This one stirs a longing in my spirit:

“Abiding in Jesus is not a work that needs each moment the mind to be engaged, or the affections to be directly and actively occupied with it. It is an entrusting of oneself to the keeping of the Eternal Love, in the faith that it will abide near us, and with its holy presence watch over us and ward off the evil, even when we have to be most intently occupied with other things. And so the heart has rest and peace and joy in the consciousness of being kept when it cannot keep itself.” (Devotional Classics: Andrew Murray George Müller Collection [Andrew Murray Collection, Kindle Edition], Location 847)

Father God, Creator, Sustainer, my spirit longs for this awareness of “being kept when it cannot keep itself”. Only You could plant such a desire, and I thank You for it. You are also the only one to fulfill it. Help me do my part and learn to walk with You. Help me not to waste time fretting about things that are Your responsibility. Help me rest in You, securely held in Your keeping. Help me trust and love You in complete faith.

Note: Ann Voskamp has a beautiful post today at A Holy Experience: “Three Ways to Really Enter into His Rest Right Now

You Are My Hiding Place,” by Selah, lets me reflect on God’s trustworthiness.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

New Places I’ve Found on the Web

Here are some of the new or new-to-me places I’ve found on the Internet:

My Utmost for His Highest provides daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers

Under the Cover of Prayer shares insights, revelations and stories that will show the power of prayer.

Kyria is an online, subscription-based magazine for Christian women. You can check out a free sample here: Kyria: December 2009: Rest.

Listening to My Hair Grow is a new blog from Rose McCormick Brandon with posts on various topics that arise from “a search to regain quietness in my life”.

Live Green, Live Better is a garden-related blog by Kim Burgsma, offering “tips, tricks and true confessions from a landscape designer”.

Heartfelt Devotionals offers a variety of “Thoughts for Common Sense Living” from Brenda Wood.

Return Home and Tell is a new blog from Kimberley Payne, acting on Jesus’ words in Luke 8:39, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

Free2soar offers flight-themed poetry and Scripture.

Talk on the Way is a website “dedicated to helping our generation know more than just facts about Jesus–to know Him personally” with articles and conversations to deepen personal spiritual growth and relationships.

Maureen’s Musings is the art-and-words blog of Nova Scotia folk artist and writer Maureen Newman. Maureen’s Rural Moments site will let you see all of her paintings.

Dreaming Big shares “reflections about identity, freedom and dreaming with God” from Christian speaker Heather Boersma.

And a hearty thank-you to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience, whose blog is not new to me but whose Write! Canada workshop on blogging challenged Christian writers to remember Jesus’ upside-down definition of success and to serve with our words.

Review: Choosing Rest, by Sally Breedlove

Choosing Rest: Cultivating a Sunday Heart in a Monday World, by Sally Breedlove (NavPress, 2002)

If I could only have my Bible and, say, five other books, Choosing Rest would be on the list. I’ve read a lot of books that have impacted my life, but this is a keeper, a book for all seasons of life.

Sally Breedlove addresses many things that we all experience at one time or another, and invites us to allow them to become gateways to rest. She touches on hot spots like expectations (ours and others’), busyness, unforgiveness, heartaches, the shadow times in our lives, grumbling, fear, grief and depression.

In all these things, she points us back to the God who loves us. She reminds us that “…rest does not come after a long battle in which we manage to change or to conquer all the issues that keep our hearts in turmoil…it’s good to know that the heart rest God desires to give us is located in the midst of these very difficulties.” (p. 139)

Choosing Rest is a book for people in their everyday struggles, not just for people in crisis. In fact, it’s better to read it and begin to learn before the crisis hits. This book is filled with sound, basic teaching, pulled together with honest, open writing and personal examples that show us we’re not alone…and give us hope of entering that rest of heart that we long for.

I originally wrote this review a few years ago, and it looks like I’ll have to buy a new copy of the book to re-read it. I lent my original one to a number of friends, and one of them apparently felt the need to keep it. Click here to read a sample chapter of Choosing Rest.

Author and speaker Sally Breedlove is also co-author of The Shame Exchange with Steve Breedlove and Ralph & Jennifer Ennis (NavPress, 2009). From Sally’s website:

This book will help you understand the origins of shame, and it will help expose the unhelpful ways we deal with shame’s power. But more than just diagnosing the problem The Shame Exchange gives a Biblical perspective on how you can face shame and through it discover a door into the deep mercy and love of God that leads to freedom.

Sounds like a book that far too many of us could benefit from!

About God’s Business

Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 3:23-244:17, NIV1

I was heading for 1Thessalonians when this verse caught my attention. I suspect Paul’s referring to a specific task or calling Archippus has received, but it seems to apply generally as well.

In her comment on last Wednesday’s devotional, Ginny Jaques said “I work for Him 24/7, and He directs my path, even giving me R and R when I need it.”

Some of us have a direct assignment from the Lord, but all of us have work He’s given us to do. People He’s given us to care for.

The Bible says a lot about faithful service, and about relying on God’s strength instead of our own. I love this quote from Brother Lawrence:

Recently I went to Burgundy to buy the wine provisions for the society which I have joined. This was a very unwelcome task for me. I have no natural business ability and, being lame, I cannot get around the boat except by rolling myself over the casks. Nonetheless, this matter gave me no uneasiness, nor did the purchase of wine. I told the Lord that it was His business that I was about. Afterwards, I found the whole thing well performed.2

Father, thank You for what You’ve given me to do, especially for my family You’ve given me to look after. Thank You it’s not about a frantic hurry to complete a set task—it’s about a willing heart that trusts in You. Help me recognize the work You give, and to serve You well. help me recognize and let go of the distractions.

Let this week’s song be our prayer: “To God Alone,” by Aaron Shust.

1New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

2Brother Lawrence, as recorded in Practicing His Presence, © MCMLXXIII by Gene Edwards, Christian Books.