I can still vividly remember the car rides home with my family – driving back from church after being there for BOTH services.
Typically the final service was followed by one of those 4-hour potlucks. You know, the ones that always consisted of a dozen casseroles. I'd bet you my favorite guitar that every one of those casseroles contained either cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup. Maybe even both?
In fact, I am fairly certain that my church alone is responsible for the resurgence of the crockpot in the 90's. Of course there were always a few lasagnas if you couldn't stomach the casserole. Oh, and bread, lots of bread.
After those long mornings my sisters and I would pile into the back of my parents gold Chevy Astro van for the 15 minute ride home. These long mornings were tiring and there was no question that a post-church rest would probably be a good idea. I'm sure at any point during the ride home if my Father looked in the rearview mirror, he'd see that one of us dozed off.
One of the first things we'd hear come out of my Dad's mouth was "When we get home, all you kiddies are going to take a nap. Rest is important." For an 8, 10, and 12 years old – naps aren't cool. Literally, it's one of the last things a kid wants to do.
Looking back, he was probably suggesting we nap because he and my Mom probably wanted to lay down and catch a break from all of us. Even so, he also knew that we actually needed rest.
We laughed at him, and as you can guess, nobody ended up taking a nap. He'd always say "When you guys are my age, you're going to wish you took those naps when you could have."
He was right!
I'd give almost anything to go back in time now and claim all those naps that I passed up on.
When we're in the thick of things it seems almost impossible to recognize that what our Father is asking of us is exactly what is best for us. That goes for both our earthly Fathers and our Heavenly Father.
Even when our stomachs are full and we're nodding off in the backseat of the van, we still refuse and ignore one of our deepest physical, emotional, and most importantly, spiritual needs.. REST.
Even as I write this I’m asking myself, why do I fight rest?
I think I know why: When I rest, I relinquish control.
When I give up control I have nothing left to do but trust in the LORD. The picture that comes to mind for me is of a hibernating bear. It'd be easy to look at a bear sleeping in his den for months and say "what a lazy animal!" When in actuality, if that bear does not hibernate it will either freeze or starve to death. If our souls do not rest, they too will starve.
Some of you who know me know that my family and I just walked through one of the toughest seasons of our lives. A year and a half after adopting our little boy, we were staring into the very frightening possibility of losing him. I began trying to control all aspects of my life because I could not control the circumstances surrounding our situation.
I can't even think of a word strong enough to describe the deep despair I felt every minute of the day. I'd stand in the threshold of my boys room and picture empty walls and silence. My tendency was to keep myself occupied with whatever I could to keep my mind busy. All while God was saying... "Just Rest."
I'd spend hours going over finances wondering how we were going to pay three lawyers, all while God was saying, "Just Rest." I continued to ignore what my Father was asking me to do.
Honestly, my Guitars For Glory family provided much needed encouragement through this journey that I believe was a major factor in getting us through this trial. However, I found myself using the ministry as that good excuse to keep busy. God was so faithful. Not only in cementing our boy into our family forever, but by exposing the areas of my heart that needed deep rest. Not just rest IN him, but rest WITH him.
Many of us on the GFG team have experienced tough obstacles over the past year. Many difficult situations where we felt like God was spelling out "REST" on the chalkboard in the front of our classroom.
Our own experiences have driven us to the point where we feel compelled to share what we've learned. Not because we know it all, but because God stripped everything away from us so that we could learn the true value and purpose of rest.
We often use ministry as a valid excuse to GO GO GO. We veil our lack of ability to rest with the excuse that "we are doing good." We narcissistically put the weight of the world on our shoulders as if without our muscle, God will fail.
"But HE needs us!"
How backwards is that? Our kingdoms begin to dwarf his. Our souls grow tired. Our act of worship and what we give back to him slowly becomes just about the routine. We simply become the skeleton or the function of what we're meant to be, leaving our hearts and souls on the side of the road somewhere along the way. Our souls are like any other part of our body. If we don’t enter into rest and nurture our souls, they will slowly dissolve.
What is really at risk if we don’t rest?
I googled "the importance of rest" just before writing this post. One of the first search results that showed up was speaking to the importance of resting after a serious workout. The article offered up a few major benefits to resting.
Rest Prevents Injury (rest days prevent overuse)
Your Performance Won't Dip (it takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress or performance level.)
Your Muscles Need Rest (without rest your muscles cannot repair themselves)
Your Immune System Can Overheat (Without proper rest, your immune system can’t catch up to all the repairs your body needs.)
Do these points not also relate to our own spiritual health? Do you see the parallels? We've seen time after time how often injury can occur in our ministries when we don't take the time to refuel. We believe that our performance is dependent on our own strength and not his strength.
We overheat, and like the engine of a vehicle running without proper maintenance and oil, we seize up and require some serious repairs before we can move again.
It's not easy to acknowledge when we've gotten to a point of being overrun by striving. If I wasn't a part of this ministry that I love so dearly, I may even second guess attending The Rest is Noise Retreat. It's easy to say "I'm OK and I don't need this."
But I now know that my intentional focus on spiritual rest needs to be reoccurring and consistently nurtured, no matter what the current state of my heart is in.
Even our Creator rested! Imagine that.
“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him for He shields him all day long. And the one the Lord loves, rests between his shoulders.” – Deuteronomy 33:12
Let us remove the weight from our own shoulders and rest securely between his.
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