When Resting Feels Out of Reach

When Resting Feels Out of ReachDo you ever feel like resting is a waste of time?

I can so easily get stuck in the mindset that my worth is based on what I have to show at the end of the day.

Sometimes, my husband has physically tugged me over to the couch to take a break.

But even at night, after the lights are turned off and I’m listening to my husband’s slow breaths, it’s almost as if my brain knows I won’t be interrupted.

It starts waving my to-do list around like a sparkler, all the while throwing in other thoughts like, “What did she mean when she said that to you?” or “Do you really think you’ll ever overcome the battle against worry? . . .”

Even when I was in the middle of the sleep-deprived newborn stage after Isaiah was born, my thoughts would often keep buzzing around like a mosquito after he had gone back to sleep.

Unwrapping the Gift

I’ve had to realize that resting takes time and intentionality. And it’s a gift God invites us to enjoy.

I recently watched a two-minute video by music artist Sara Groves discussing the seemingly “extravagant and wasteful attitude creative work seems to require.” She said that taking time to contemplate is seen as lazy, rather than time to let God speak to our hearts.

In our world of constant notifications and reminders, the idea of Sabbath is counter-cultural.

When Resting Feels Out of ReachTo take a whole day off and not work seems extravagant and wasteful.

Sara talked about the unproductive people in our worlds—the elderly, kids, the homeless—ones who occupy a space that’s easy to bulldoze right over. She questioned what kind of extravagant, wasteful way of thinking they might be inviting us into.

Seasons and circumstances constantly change, so how do I live with that kind of contentment whether I’m studying for college finals, washing sticky hands for the fiftieth time, or spending most of the day at doctor’s appointments with the other silver-haired people?

Rest + Faith

Hebrews 3 and 4 talk about the beautiful blending of rest and faith.

When we believe in Jesus, we are called to enter His rest. It takes daily faith to trust that Jesus is Someone we can rest in.

At the end of Hebrews 2, the author shares that Jesus became human to be our merciful and faithful high priest, paying for our sins. He was tempted like us, so that He can help us in our temptations.

Through Jesus’ power, we are called to fix our thoughts on Him, encourage one another, keep our hearts soft, and hold firmly to our confidence in Jesus. (Hebrews 3)

When we don’t take time to let our minds rest on the truth, we may be continuing on the path of disobedience the Israelites followed when they wandered in the desert. We may start thinking it’s up to us to save ourselves from our circumstances and the responsibilities of life.

Which is exhausting.

Trying to discipline my son in love when he ignores my request for him to come get his diaper changed.

Trying to make a tasty meal for my husband and then listen to him when he comes home late and exhausted.

Trying to speak words of encouragement to a friend who is going through an emotionally heart-stabbing experience.

So what does it look like to rest when we work full-time or have a toddler who would rather run than sleep?

When Resting Feels Out of ReachResting With Confidence

At the end of Hebrews 4, the author points us to God’s Word.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

At first, it might not sound restful to have my thoughts and attitudes lying naked before God.

But in the next verses, we see our Rescuer, the One who empathizes with our weaknesses, who was tempted but was able to live a sinless life for us.

It’s not a call to shape up or ship out. It’s an invitation to His power.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Pastor Rick Warren shared this attitude in a devotional:

“One of the most famous Christians of the 19th century was a guy named Hudson Taylor. He was a missionary to China, and he was a spiritual giant and a brilliant man. In his old age, he lost his health and became very weak. He wrote a letter to a friend that said this:

‘I am so weak I can no longer work. I am so weak I can no longer study. I am so weak I can no longer read my Bible. I cannot even pray. I can only lie still in the arms of God like a little child in trust.’”

Do we feel free to do the same?

The rest we enter into now is only a foretaste of God’s future rest on the New Earth.

It’s been in place since the beginning of time. After God created the world, He rested. He was satisfied with it because everything He does is good. (Genesis 2:2)

I can’t think of anyone better to handle the universe than the One who shaped it.

Will you ask God to show you how to enter His rest in your current season?

He is ready to shower you with His love through His truth.

You can click here for some Scriptures I’ve put together about rest to meditate on.

…As well as a song from Sandra McCracken’s new album, “Psalms.”

The Danger of Wanting to See Results

The Danger of Wanting to See ResultsOne summer in high school, I noticed a billboard on my way to work that said, “We took immediately and made it faster.”

We live in a culture of microwaved food, vitamin supplements, and exercise programs promising to burn our fat faster.

You want to grow your hair faster? There’s a shampoo for that.

Now that my son is a toddler, he loves to run as fast as he can (not usually paying attention to obstacles obstructing his path).

Why would we want to do anything slowly if we can get a similar result faster?

Growing up, I measured my nine-month schoolyears by twice a year report cards.

I went on short-term mission trips.

The Danger of Wanting to See ResultsGetting married was one of my first decisions where I couldn’t picture the end.

When I got pregnant with Isaiah, we waited the designated nine months to meet him, and then he was here.

For good.

There was no putting him back where he came from.

There would be no days off unless they were carefully arranged.

For the first months of his life, he would even receive all his sustenance from me.

No Test to Ace
I realized that in motherhood there were no periodic evaluations, final exams, or times specifically devoted to reflecting on my performance.

It was just . . . doing life.

No one was telling me if I did a bad job.

When we felt the Lord redirecting us from the goal of moving overseas (you can read more here), I spent time questioning my purpose.

What if I couldn’t see how God was choosing to use me?

What if He didn’t choose to use me at all?

My mentor Natalie reminded me that “Being used by God is a byproduct of my relationship with Him.”

The Danger of Wanting to See ResultsMy focus can’t be about achieving results, because . . .

God wants my heart.

If I use my performance or relationships with others to make me feel significant, I will always be disappointed in the end.

If my contentment in Jesus is based on how I can or cannot see Him using me, it will be easy to fall into the comparison trap (you can read more here).

Mothering Like Jesus
At the height of Jesus’ ministry, He often went to quiet places to be alone with His Father. He blessed children when He could have spent the time healing more people and seeing immediate results. (Mark 10:13-16)

Do I want my son to see a mom who is obsessed with evaluating performance?

What might he conclude about my love for him if that’s my highest concern?

Melissa Kruger, in her excellent biblestudy on Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood, wrote that our “hope is to have God impact our own lives in such a way that His imprint on our hearts makes a lasting impression on our children…. If we want peaceful, hopeful, kind, and compassionate children, it is essential that we grow in these graces ourselves. In the beauty of God’s design, He is in the process of parenting us as we parent our children.”

A Patient God
If we look at God’s plan of redemption, we are reminded again and again of His patience.

He is not in a hurry.

If He were, He wouldn’t have made Sarah barren for so many years.

He wouldn’t have put up with the Israelites flailing around in their sin and choosing to remember Him only when they were in trouble.

He wouldn’t have preserved a remnant when conquerors came, one after the other.

He wouldn’t have come to earth as a baby and then entrusted the message of the gospel to a small group of disciples.

If God were in a hurry, I’m pretty sure none of us would have had the chance to be born.

The Danger of Wanting to See ResultsGod wants us to abide in Him as grapes on His vine Jesus (John 15). He wants us to enjoy Him, ready to be squeezed into a precious bottle of wine when the time is right–so that if visible results do come, our first response won’t be to feel good about ourselves.

It will be to worship Him.

Here are seven snippets of truth my mentor Natalie shared with me for when I struggle to see results.

1. Submit your time table to God.

2. Remember that only Jesus brings true satisfaction.

3. Rejoice that His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)

4. Realize that you don’t need to have all the answers at once. (He’s got it under control.)

5. Recognize that God’s kingdom almost always looks different from the world’s view of success.

6. Invite Him into every part of your life (even the boring diaper changes and laundry).

7. Ask God to help you rejoice in the beautiful works that are being done by others.

Will you ask Jesus to help you enjoy Him today?