Last week I shared a parenting lesson about waiting that my kids helped me to see. In close proximity to that example was the one I’ll share today. God certainly had plenty to say to me about my season of waiting this summer.
As we prepared for our summer vacation with all of my husband’s family, I had volunteered to pre-make a bunch of desserts to bring along. It was time to bake, and my kids were going to help me. They were so eager to jump right in and get started. But guess what? More waiting. They tried to get going on their own a couple of times while I was busy with the preparation that needed done before we could start adding ingredients. This resulted in nothing good. They kept asking me, “Mom when are we going to get started?” What they failed to see was that I had already started and was working away; it just didn’t look like it to them. To them, getting started meant dumping ingredients in the bowl. But as anyone who has ever cooked before understands, there is a bunch of prep work to do in a kitchen before you can start dumping in the ingredients! I had to clear the counters, get out the mixer, get out some bowls, wash a few items, turn on the oven, etc. To them, none of this looked like I was starting on the treats, and they were dismayed that 1) they had to keep on waiting on me, and 2) that I wasn’t getting started! In reality, I was working and laying the groundwork needed for us to make the desserts.
So many times we think that while we are waiting, God is doing nothing. “God, why aren’t you acting on my behalf?!” “God why aren’t you changing this person… or this situation?” “God why aren’t you fixing this problem?!” What we may fail to see is all the groundwork that God is laying while we are waiting. God is always working on our behalf; Scripture says so, and so we can choose to believe it even when it doesn’t feel true. (Freebee – your feelings don’t always equal the truth!) Isaiah 64:4 says, “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” God is acting on your behalf as you wait on him. Never think that just because you can’t SEE the work he’s doing, that he isn’t working.
Deuteronomy 31:8 says that “The Lord himself goes before you.” You can be sure he is busy about the preparations for your next steps long before it’s time for you to take them, just like I was preparing the kitchen for our baking extravaganza.
If you are in a difficult season of waiting and wondering like we were this summer, I encourage you to choose trust today. Be reminded that your God is always working on your behalf. He is busy making preparations even when you cannot see his movements. He is going before you and preparing the way. Sometimes our job is just to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7), trusting that he is already busy on our behalf.
Nobody likes waiting. Long lines at the pharmacy. A long wait to be seated at a restaurant. Waiting at the doctor’s office. Waiting for news. Waiting on God to show you what to do. No fun. Kids seem to be especially bad at waiting, and they opened my eyes to how we can wait better during a couple parenting moments recently. I’ll share one example today.
One evening this week our kids were begging to go to the park after dinner. Since everyone finished in a timely fashion, we loaded up and headed to one of our favorite parks with a playground and hiking. After the kids played for a bit, Andrew suggested that we take a short hike to part of the park that the kids had not hiked before. He and I have walked it several times, but it was new for them. We climbed to the top of a very tall hill which extends along the length of one side of the park. When we reached the peak, the kids immediately wanted to run down the hill and back to the playground. We encouraged them to WAIT and to walk the length of the hill to its end. We knew that at the end of the hill trail, the playground was waiting at the bottom. But if they went down the hill early, they would be all the way at the back of the park, far away from the playground. The moaned and groaned about having to walk farther: “We just want to run down the hill! It looks so fun right here!” Yes, yes, we know. But just trust us and wait a little bit before you go down…
Sometimes when we are waiting on God, we are tempted to jump at the first opportunity that looks good. But when he asks us to wait, we can trust that he has a good reason. He can see the whole path, and he knows that first option isn’t going to put us where we need to be. While my kids were whining about walking that hill trail, they were missing out on some beautiful scenery, and they weren’t enjoying our family time. When they finally settled into the waiting, when they finally chose to trust that we knew where we were going, they were able to continue enjoying the walk. If we are waiting on the Lord, it’s best to settle in, choose trust, and enjoy the views he has for us along the way. Waiting doesn’t need to be full of stress. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing.” Nothing. Not one thing. When we are in difficult seasons of waiting, we can choose trust and find peace and joy even in difficulty.
Case in point, Andrew’s hours were cut dramatically this summer as his boss tried to save the company (which he did!). We’ve both felt stressed about the pay cut, looking for new job opportunities, trying to bring in extra money somehow. Needless to say, we weren’t enjoying the path, just like my kids didn’t enjoy our hike along the top of the hill because they were too busy complaining. And God just resonated the truth in my heart – “I gave you long weekends for the whole summer! Why aren’t you enjoying them!?” Why were we stressed and frustrated? God knew the trail he had us on – he could see the whole thing. While we did eventually come to the place of trusting God and enjoying the journey, I wish we had gotten there (to peace) faster. When we choose to trust that God is leading us on the right path, we don’t need to stress. We can just trust and enjoy life.
What are you waiting through right now? Have you taken a moment to look around at the blessings that are in your life even in the midst of the challenges? I encourage you to choose trust today and to enjoy the scenery of the path God has you on!
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” Psalm 130:5
Recently as a family we were walking around a large store. I remember walking around a large store as a child – you have the sense of how very big the place is. You have no sense of bearings – where is the exit, where you’ve been or where you’re going, the ceiling is a million miles away. You just feel small. As an adult, I was in full possession of my bearings in the store. My children were looking for the steps, and I knew right where we were and where the stairs were. Of course they knew that I would know, and so they asked me where the stairs were. I responded, “They’re over this way,” while pointing in the direction of the stairs. But guess what? None of my children were looking at me. They continued to turn this way and that, looking around their surroundings for the stairs. How silly! I called them out, “Guys, you asked me where the stairs are but then you failed to look at me for the answer. You just kept looking on your own.”
Oh how often we do this in our journey with God. We are seeking answers for life’s problems, and we know we need to ask him for those answers, but then we fail to keep our eyes on him, we fail to look to him to see his direction and guidance. We just keep searching about aimlessly for the answer. God doesn’t want us to fumble our way through life. He knows that if we just keep our eyes on him, he will lead us in the way we should go. But in order to be led, we have to follow, and to follow, we have to look.
Here are a few of my favorite verses that instruct us to keep our eyes on the Lord:
Proverbs 4:25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”
Psalm 16:8 “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Jesus, Light of the World, promised us this: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Why do we ask God in prayer for direction but then fail to keep our eyes on him? It’s as silly as my children asking me where the steps were located but then not looking at me to see where I was guiding them.
As I answered my children about the steps, I felt God’s Spirit nudge that I have been seeking a lot of answers lately regarding my husband’s job, but all I really need to do is keep my eyes on Him. He’s a faithful guide – so much more so than I am, and I would never lead my own children astray. He will be faithful to lead my family in the way we need to go, but we won’t see the way unless we actually keep our eyes on him instead of frantically looking every which way in life like my children did in the store.
If you are walking through uncertain times, I encourage you to join me in fixing your gaze on God. He is the Good Shepherd and he longs to lead you in the way you should go. But if you’re not looking to him, you won’t see it. You may even be asking him for direction, but in looking all around you seeking those answers, your eyes are not on him. And that’s what he wants most – he wants our eyes on him; he wants to walk with us. The promises of his Word are true for you and me. When we look to him, he will guide us in the way we should go. But you can’t see it if you aren’t looking.
This spring we have had some very rainy long days at home. On days like these, I like to tackle organizing projects. One such day, I was helping my son organize the new lego sets that he had received for his birthday. I was kneeling down in front of his bookshelf when I felt a sharp pain in my knee. I assumed that I had struck a nerve in my aging knees, or perhaps rested my knee on a small sharp lego-like object. So I rolled quickly off my knees to relieve the pressure. I felt something on my pants as I rubbed the sore area and noticed that I now had a small hole in my favorite lounge pants. But then we noticed a burning smell. The smell triggered me to look again at my pant leg and see that the hole was not torn, but melted and burned. I had knelt down on one of the caps from Micah’s cap gun, and the pressure and friction had caused it to ignite, melting my pants, and burning my knee.
So too with our faith, sometimes a little pressure in life is what we need to ignite a spark. Yes, sometimes that pressure is uncomfortable, but if it ignites our faith, then it is worth it.
The pressure we are feeling right now in my family is provision – the economy is not great, as we all know, and my husband’s job has been greatly affected by this. It’s a nose-at-the-water-line type of situation. But I allowed this pressure to spark faith in me on a recent Sunday as I was listening to a sermon entitled, “What’s In Your Hand?” God’s Spirit whispered in my heart – “your flowers are in your hand. Give them to me, and let’s see what we can do.” As I have reflected on the start up of my cut flower arrangement sales, I realize that the initial spark happened years ago, but it took the pressure of our finances to ignite something greater. (Who knows how long that cap had been sitting on Micah’s floor? It took the pressure of my knee to ignite it!) It took pressure for my faith to grow, to place this passion in God’s hands, to give it over to him and let him use it for his purposes.
The reality is that without some pressure or some discomfort, we are unlikely to move, change, take a step, grow. We like our comfort zones. They’re comfortable. But they are not where growth happens. Growth happens in the pressure, the heat, the trial by fire.
When I think of a life from the Bible that is marked by great trial, great pressure, great difficulty, of course Job comes to mind. Job lost everything, if you are unfamiliar with his story. He lost all the many herds of animals he owned, all his wealth; he lost his home; he lost his children; he even lost his health. His life was in utter ruins. When we get into places like this, not that I can pretend to ever have been in such a dismal place as Job, we have choices: We can give up, turn our backs on God; we can be angry with God; or we can allow the pressure to spark faith.
Job chose faith. And so do I.
“When he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23)
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19)
Whatever trial you are facing right now, I encourage you to let the pressure you feel ignite faith in your heart. Don’t turn your back on God or be angry with him; choose faith. Your redeemer lives. And you will see him face to face one day, with all made right. Allow your difficulties to grow your faith, to move you in the direction God is urging you. Choose faith.
Last summer we sowed wildflower seeds across a large section of our back hillside. It is a rocky, sandstone area with lots of weeds and wild growth. We cultivated the area to ensure good seed contact with the soil, we kept the area moist, and it certainly got lots of sunshine. Yet we were disappointed with the outcome. Last summer, only a precious few wildflowers popped up on the hill, despite hundreds of seeds being dispersed. Disappointing to say the least!
Much to my shock, THIS summer, a huge swatch of the hillside was covered with wildflowers! WHAT. I never saw these guys last year. The seed laid there all summer, through the winter, and finally germinated this spring. I could not have been more surprised to see all these flowers popping up over a year later!
Because the culture of the Bible time period was largely agrarian, there are many many sowing and seed references in the Bible. But in this season of life, what I found particularly encouraging about this object lesson of the delayed wildflower bloom is found in Galatians and Isaiah.
Galatians 6:9 says “9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
As a mom, I am spending a ton of time sowing into the lives of my children. And it is not always so rewarding. This is especially so because we are raising a child with special needs. It is challenging. Summers are very hard with their lack of structure, long lazy days, and slower pace. None of this is helpful for my Sophie-girl. This summer her anxiety and OCD have reared their ugly heads in full force. I feel like I sow the same truths into my kids’ lives MANY times a day, but all that I am seeing is that sparse wildflower or two that I saw on the hillside last year. It is encouraging to me to know that those seeds may lie there for quite some time, but they will eventually accomplish the purpose for which God had me sow them. If I do not give up, the harvest will eventually come in their lives. Someday they won’t use potty language from sun-up to sun-down! Someday they will WANT to brush their teeth… Someday they will become more grateful people…. The seeds are there, and God IS making them grow, even if I can’t see it right now.
God’s Word also makes it clear that HE is the one who makes the seed grow (Mark 4:27-28, I Corinthians 3:6-7). My job is to be obedient, faithful, and PATIENT with these children. Whether you are in my season of life or not, I imagine there is a situation coming to your mind just now. Most of us are in a long game of some sorts no matter where we’re at in life. Be encouraged today not to give up. Let’s keep in mind this great verse from Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” It may take a long time to see the beauty from the seed you sowed, but keep on and you will see it eventually.
You never know what you might be carrying around with you. Recently I put on a pair of shorts that I hadn’t worn yet this season. I wore them around all afternoon. While I was fixing dinner, I felt something tickle the back of my leg, and I looked back, somewhat alarmed. I found a dryer sheet peeking out of the leg. Phew. My momentary panic turned out to be nothing. I was recalling a time several years ago when my husband was sitting at his desk at work when he felt a tickle on his leg. A quick shake of his pants leg dislodged a very large wolf spider. Eeek!
I used to work with a gal who one time found a pair of clean underwear in the leg of her pants after teaching all day! Have you ever had a surprise stow-away in your clothing somewhere?
Sometimes we carry things around with us that we have no idea are there. Fortunately for me, it was just a dryer sheet.
My surprise staticky friend reminded me of the closing words of Psalm 139: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” The Psalmist explains how completely God knows us throughout this Psalm. He even knows things that we don’t know about ourselves. In these closing verses he invites God to search his heart and reveal anything ungodly that might be hiding there that he himself isn’t even aware of.
What might our hearts be carrying around that we aren’t even aware of? Is there an idol we are unknowingly serving? Is there an attitude or heart posture that isn’t glorifying to God? Are we harboring fear or anxiety or perhaps entertaining a lie from the enemy?
It requires humility to ask God to search our hearts to see if there is anything unpleasing to him within us. When we make this request, we acknowledge our limitations, our weaknesses, in light of God’s omniscience and perfection. We simply don’t know it all, even when it comes to our own hearts!
If the Holy Spirit reveals something to us, what are we to do? Just what we would do with any unwanted stow-away in our clothing – we get rid of it! Whether you can give a gentle tug like I did with my dryer sheet, or you need a vehement shake like Andrew and his spider friend, do what it takes to get rid of the sin God reveals to you. Repent to him, and to others if needed. Ask for his help to leave that sin far behind. That’s the beauty of God’s loving conviction – it’s for our good, so that we can walk more freely, more uprightly, more obediently. It’s not heaped up with guilt. His abundant grace is right there with us as we deal with our sin. He convicts us because he loves us and wants what is the very best for us.
Join me in this prayer today: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
In my quest for freedom from back pain there has been a lot of hard work. I’ve been rowing for three months now. There were many days that I didn’t feel like doing it. At all. But, the payoff has been huge. I was able to go to my mom’s this weekend and do very labor-intensive yardwork, only coming away with minor aches and pains. Praise Jesus! Before, this type of labor would have left me with debilitating pain for months. I am so thankful to be feeling well — it has been worth the work!
When I think about this journey, I am reminded of the man Jesus healed by the pool in John 5. The man has been an invalid, laying by this pool, for 38 years. That’s almost the whole of my life. When Jesus meets him, he asks him this question, “Do you want to get well?” This seems like a wild question to ask someone who has been laying invalid for 38 years! Of course he wants to get well! Or does he want to BE well?
You see, rather than answering Jesus with the resounding “YES” we expect, he immediately makes an excuse. “There’s no one to help me into the pool.” Ahh, how many times have I made a similar excuse? Sure, I want to BE well, but there’s no one to help me GET well. So many people, myself included, want to BE healthy, but we don’t want to put in the effort to get there. Or we want to be a mature Christian, but we don’t want to put in the effort to get there.
Despite the man’s excuse and misdirection from the question, Jesus chooses to heal him, immediately. His power is more than enough for the man’s healing. But there is work on the man’s part that must be done in this healing process. Jesus gives him three instructions: Get up. Take up your mat. Walk.
Can you even imagine the amount of effort and faith that it must have taken for this man, an invalid of nearly 4 decades, to stand up? To lift his mat? To take those first steps? What if Jesus had offered him healing, but the man chose to remain in his crippled state? What if he continued to be unwilling to engage in his healing process? What if he just sat there? He would never have walked into the healing that Jesus offered him.
This is where so many of us live spiritually. Jesus has given us eternal life through his death, and, by the Holy Spirit, everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He has given us the means to BE well spiritually, to be right with God. Are we going to continue sitting in our crippled state, or are we going to walk forward into healing?
Do you want to BE well? Then you have to want to GET well. Jesus has done everything to conquer sin and death so that we are no longer crippled by those. (This is not a matter of earning our salvation through works, or being perfect enough to atone for our own sin.) But we won’t stumble into holiness or patience or faith or forgiveness or humility. Getting well spiritually is a process just like getting well physically. We have to put in the effort just like the man in John 5: Get up. Take up your mat. Start walking.
What this looks like for me is going hard after spiritual wellness by tackling study in the Word in areas where I am weak. I chose rowing because it would target my core, where I was weak, and it is actively strengthening me in that area. If there is an area of your life, spiritual or physical, where you need to be strengthened, follow Jesus’ instructions and go for it. Remember that it is his power that unlocks your healing, but it is your effort that is required to walk out that healing.
As Easter was approaching this year, I’ve been contemplating the magnitude of Jesus sacrifice anew. It is almost impossible not to sanitize the crucifixion narrative, because the reality of it is so horrific. Even the sanitized version is hard to contemplate. Jesus was a real person, who suffered real pain, who felt real fear and real stress over the torture he suffered. And he did it for me. That’s the part that wrecks me every year. He did it for me. The thought of anyone suffering for any reason is hard for my heart to bear, but the reality that he suffered his torment out of love for me brings me to tears.
The verse that I’ve been dwelling on during this Lenten season (like the Easter version of advent at Christmas, Lent is when we prepare for Easter) is a phrase from Isaiah 64: “All our righteousness is as filthy rags.” Earlier this spring, God convicted my heart of pride and a sinful desire for my own fame. This verse reminds me that even on my very best day, I am not enough to earn true righteousness on my own. All of the good things that I do are just like filthy rags compared to the surpassing righteousness and perfection of my Savior Jesus Christ.
This week I completed my deep clean of my kitchen rags. About every three months I soak them in a super-duper laundry detergent so that all the deeply absorbed gross dirty mess can come out of them. What appears in the water after this soak is pretty gross. This is such a great visual for what I’m talking about.
My righteousness = these filthy rags. Gross. There is no room for pride here.
When I realize the depths of my own sinfulness and my complete and utter inability to ever be good enough on my own, my heart is overwhelmed with thanks that Jesus did indeed pay it all for me. And through my faith in him, I can be clothed in his righteousness. Paul writes about this in Philippians 3. He presents his amazing pedigree and spotless record when it comes to the law. But in the end, he realizes none of that counts compared to the righteousness Christ offers us.
He says, “8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith inChrist—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
This is what I celebrate this Easter. Even though I am a lost and hopeless sinner, I can have a righteousness that is not of my own that comes from being perfect, but I can have a righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus. His astonishing sacrifice makes that possible. It hurts my heart to think of all that he suffered for me, so that I could receive his righteousness as a free gift. And all I can really give him as thanks is myself. My life lived for him, for his glory.
Whether you don’t know Jesus at all, or you’ve been walking with him for years, remember this Easter that he’s not asking for your righteous acts. He’s not asking for your perfection. He just wants you. Your salvation is free, unearned and paid in full because of his loving sacrifice.
This winter held some very busy weeks and weekends for my family. I am a staunch protector of our time for margin and rest. But there are seasons where the schedule gets away from me, and we find ourselves over-committed. In these seasons, life begins to feel like running on a hamster wheel. I’m doing all the things, and I’m getting really tired, but I’m not actually going anywhere. And the more I spin, the less productive I become. But the list never gets shorter, so I just keep on spinning, trying to catch up. Am I the only one who feels this way about life?
Surely there must be a better way.
After a couple of months on the hamster wheel, I said to myself, “Enough is enough.” I am taking a day off.
How could you possibly do that? How could you step away from your to-do list knowing that with each passing day, hour, moment, it only grows longer and longer? Taking a day off means a day for all of the things to continue accumulating into an even larger pile for tomorrow. How can taking a day off be the remedy for the hamster wheel when it just makes more work for the next day?
I know, I know.
But here’s the thing. If we only rest when the work is done, we will never rest. Because the work is never done. God doesn’t tell us that we must first earn our rest by completing our to-do list, or by working 40 hours, or 60, or whatever insane amount of hours you’re working. He doesn’t mandate that our homes be spotless before we take a break. He doesn’t require all our projects to be wrapped up first. No, by example, God mandated rest, for an entire day, and he commanded it for us as well. Why? He certainly didn’t need the rest… He’s God! But, WE do desperately NEED rest in our lives. Resting is a good practice, regardless of where we are at in our massive to-do lists!
So I took my day off. To-do list, be quiet. Mess, you can wait. Work, I will get to you tomorrow. What a wild idea, you guys!
But guess what happened when I obeyed God’s mandate to rest? He provided.
I had no way of knowing what the next day was going to hold when I threw caution to the wind that Monday and took the day off. Tuesday should have held plenty of things. But, God gave me a surprise snow day. Wait, what? Your kids were home, adding to your chaos and this was somehow provision? Yes, in fact, it was. Because it meant that the hours I spend providing the mom taxi services were suspended for the day, and it meant that the two older children were home to entertain the preschooler, and it meant that I could DIVE IN, refreshed from my day off, with no interruptions, drop offs, lunches to pack, etc, and tackle my massive list. And it was an incredibly productive day. Because I chose the rest that God knew I so badly needed, he provided a way for me to accomplish all that I needed to do.
How often do you rest? Do you have a day off? Or is every minute of every weekday filled with activity? Is every weekend booked up from now until eternity? Do you ever have days where you just leave the schedule open so you can do nothing? If you haven’t tried this, you need to. I know that some people out there just “love to be busy.” That’s so great, for you. But here’s the thing, just because we love something, that doesn’t make it good for us in boundless amounts. Case in point, I love ice cream. But if I consume boundless amounts of it because I love it, I will have major problems in my body. You may love to be busy, but the reality is, your body was created to have one day out of seven that is just for rest. Period.
When I take a step back and look at the typical schedule for most American families, I am, to be totally transparent, filled with horror. I would never ever want to be that busy! Now, don’t get me wrong, I am an incredibly productive person. I love to get things done, and I really do get a lot done. I am not a “sitting around all day” type of person! I have my mother to thank for this. She passed the gene to me. We are high-output, productive people. But we are not burned out, usually. Because we do protect our margin. We do make time for rest. We do say NO to things that overcrowd our family schedule. We limit our children to one activity at a time (such as a sport, club, team, group), and they are not allowed to begin an activity until they are in first grade, and fully adjusted to going to school full-time. Call me crazy. That’s fine. But I refuse to have my children’s lives overcrowded by too many sports practices and activities AND HAVE THEM THINK THAT THIS LIFESTYLE IS NORMAL. We need time for family. We need time to rest. We need time to take care of ourselves. We need time for church. And we need all of these things REGULARLY, not as the exception once every couple of months.
I hate when I get into a hamster wheel cycle of life. But I love that God offers us a remedy when we get to feeling so drained and manic in our activity. He gives us the gift of rest. We need it, our children need it, and quite frankly, our world needs it.
Here are a couple of my favorite verses about rest:
Psalm 127:1-2 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Isaiah 30:15 “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Hebrews 4:9-11 “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”
I know that for some of you reading this, what I’m talking about feels impossible. Your hamster wheel is whipping along at about 90MPH. If you try to get off, you’re likely to break a leg in the fall. I understand that for some, this busyness thing is really out of hand. But this is not unattainable for you. Start small. Here are some practical ideas for you:
Make one night a week a family night, where you eat together and no one does an activity, goes out, has a friend over, etc. (Contrary to their belief – kids won’t actually die if they have to miss an activity!)
Schedule your rest wherever you keep your calendar (paper or electronic) so that when you are tempted to schedule something in that “empty” hour or day, you’ll remember that you’re scheduling a break for yourself and your family.
Leave one weekend a month open, unscheduled. Or if that feels too dramatic, try for one of the weekend days. And make it Sunday so you can go to CHURCH!
Remember that rest doesn’t equate with: sleeping in (not possible in homes with small children), or doing something totally mindless such as scrolling on your phone or bingeing on Netflix. Real rest is something that restores your soul. For me this is making time to write, or read, to pray, or worship with music, or to be outside in nature in some way, to play with my children, or sit and enjoy their presence, or even to do an organizing or decorating project. These are things that restore me. Restoration is always the goal of rest. By all means, take a nap if you need to, but do things that are good for your soul too!
One step at a time, we can reclaim our lives from the busyness that has totally overtaken them. Are you ready to rest? You’re going to love it! It’s so great!
A few weeks ago, I was highly focused on my exercise routine on our rowing machine when my five-year-old daughter came bursting into the room. She hopped up on the spare bed in the guest room and said, “Mom! Look what I can do!” These words always bring a certain feeling for parents. We hear them a lot. Kids love to invent moves or master talents that they can show off to win their parents attention and praise. So sometimes, the feeling parents get when we hear these words is a bit of an eye roll feeling. But sometimes, these words garner excitement for me as a parent. Because my kids do some weird things. They make me laugh. And I love to give them that verbal praise and affirmation.
But in this particular instance, I was so focused on my exercising. I’m new on the rowing machine, and I still need to really focus to make sure my stroke is correct. As it turns out, you can, in fact, row incorrectly, even though it seems fairly straightforward. You can also row in a way that doesn’t engage your core as much. As I am learning the skill, my focus on my body position is intense. So, I gave my daughter a sideways glance and said, “Okay.” And then I continued to focus on my stroke.
Hannah began to show me her new move, but she quickly realized I wasn’t actually looking at her. She said, “No, Mom. Put your eyes fully on me.”
It just so happened that I had the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” on the brain that day, and so her words really struck me on a different level.
Hannah wanted my eyes fully on her moves so she knew I was giving her my full attention and focus. She didn’t want to be in my peripheral vision. Guess what? Jesus doesn’t want to be in our peripheral vision any more than my five-year-old wants to be in mine. He wants the focus of our lives to be completely on him. He’s not off to the side, where we glance occasionally, say for 5-15 minutes a day when we pray or read a devotion. No, he wants to be front and center throughout our whole day, our whole life.
Who is leading as you go throughout your day? Are you following Jesus? Or are you leading yourself? If you are on a journey and following someone, it’s best to keep your eyes on them, otherwise, you might lose your way. Jesus is our guide through this life, but in order to follow him well, we have to fix our eyes and our focus fully on him. We can’t allow life’s distractions to lead us astray. Oftentimes, these are very good things that we shift our vision towards – I want to make sure my kids have a good childhood, OR, I want to attain financial security, OR, I want to focus on getting healthy. Some distractions are disguised as very good things. But they are still distractions if Jesus is not at the center of your gaze.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
What entanglements do you need to cast aside today? Is there sin you need to deal with, like this Scripture passage mentions? Or have you just turned your eyes onto a very “good” distraction of some sort? What is taking the place of Jesus’ leadership in your life? Who or what is guiding you? Place him at the center today and trust him to lead you. He blazed the trail for you, and he’s a good guide. But the guide of your life shouldn’t be living in your peripheral vision. Where is your life’s focus? Is it on your kids? Yourself? Your finances or career? Bring Jesus back to the center, turn your eyes fully on him. There’s no better guide to help you navigate life’s path.