Anyone who knows me knows I don’t sit still well. I love a high goal and lots of action. Lots of people and passion. “Not somehow, but triumphantly!” is a refrain in our family.
But with some of the people closest to me, lately I find myself saying, “I think you need to be gentle with yourself. Give yourself grace. Stop. Rest.” Easier advice to give than to take.
There’s a friend who experienced an adoption nightmare while trying to be faithful to God’s leading is left reeling, confused, wounded.
A friend battling pancreatic cancer, wondering “What can I do?”
And another who’s been through a season of conflict and unfair criticism at work.
We all go through different spiritual seasons. Some where we’re growing, others where we’re re-orienting, but often the most neglected are those seasons of rest, when God says, “Sit awhile with Me. The world will keep spinning without you.”
Maybe it’s not a season, but just a day of Sabbath, or a few moments of silence and solitude that is getting squeezed out by our endless striving to do everything better.
I run past this bench often and was intrigued when I saw these shoes left here one day. It made me think of Moses taking off his shoes because he was on holy ground when he waited before the Lord.
Sometimes the hardest “work” we do is to rest. It’s so much easier to answer emails or do the laundry or rake leaves because we are desperate for control, desperate to accomplish stuff.
We sing, “Your grace is enough” on Sunday, but we dance to a different tune during the week.
Rest is the enemy of our false selves – that person inside us who says we have to produce, to do, to add value in order to be “good enough” to be validated, to be “real”. But our true self is the one who can sit awhile with the One who made us, knowing that, no matter what we do or don’t do, we are a beloved child and it’s gonna be ok.
I keep hoping this “stopping”, whether it’s for a season, or a Sabbath day, or fifteen minutes will just magically arrive, like Christmas every year, but I’m ready to give up that pipe dream. I need to schedule it just like I need to make an appointment for my flu shot. It feels like a pain, and an interruption, but in the end it’s necessary. And just like I need John to bug me about making that flu shot appointment, I can use friends to gently hold me accountable to the discipline of rest. Silence. Solitude.
When we try to be still and rest, often our mind spins with “to do’s”. Sometimes it helps to picture your worries as a bunch of helium balloons you’re clutching. As you settle in with God and worries come to mind, imagine letting go and watching them float away for a time.
And when we’ve loosened our grasp, then we can be still and pray “Abba. Father. Do what only You can do.”
Dear heart, God does not say today, “Be strong.”
He knows your strength is spent.
He knows how long the road has been, how weary you have grown,
for he walked the earthly roads alone.
Each boggy lowland and each long, steep hill can understand,
and so He says, “Be still.”
“And know that I am God.”
The hour’s late and you must rest awhile and you must wait til life’s empty reservoirs fill up as slow rain fills an empty upturned cup.
Hold up your cup, dear child, for God to fill.
He only asks today that you be still. (Grace Noel Crowel)
Do you resist resting? What helps you respond to God’s invitation to rest?