Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rest Days

A couple of months ago Leigh Anne Tuohy posted a picture on facebook of the contents from her hair accessory drawer. Apparently she had gone to Target a few times (who hasn't) and come home with things she already owned. In her defense, ponytail holders seem to magically disappear. I can only assume they are hidden deep in places unknown with single socks desperately in search of long term mates. And how many of us end up with a disproportionate amount of pencils and pens during back to school season because we forgot we stocked up when it all went on clearance after Labor Day? And while none of these things will go to waste, we are still spending our time and energy getting something we already have.

Growing up I always enjoyed spending time with women who were considerably older than me. The grandmotherly type to be exact. One of my dearest friends in my early twenties had a daughter quite a bit older than me.....with college. I loved Joan for the wisdom she had on life, the things she'd experienced both good and bad, and her incredible sass. There comes a point in life where you just say what you want and don't really care if others agree or disagree with you.

And while I love so many contemporary Bible study teachers, I am slowly learning the wisdom of those who have gone well before my time. I haven't read anything C.S. Lewis has written (I have tried but it takes a crazy amount of quiet to concentrate on his words.....much like Ann Voskamp) and so I am always thrilled when someone quotes him. He has had some nuggets of truth to pass on that are mesmerizing in both their simplicity and beauty. However, someone even prior to his time, who had written several books, have had others rewrite his works in more modern language. If you've never heard the name Andrew Murray, learn it.

The first time I saw his name was in a Cynthia Heald Bible study when she quoted him. The only thing I knew about this man was that he had the same name of someone I graduated with and that he clearly was not the same person. Recently, Rebekah Lyons not only quoted him, but showed the book from which she was quoting. Score! Now I knew how to find this priceless trove of great wisdom. And so, Abiding in Christ, the updated version became mine.

The book is based on John 15 as you might have guessed and it is broken down into 31 days of readings. This is a book that could easily be used month after month after month for years until it is falling apart at the seams and then replaced. You would think that after a few months of reading it one wouldn't need the reminders but I don't agree. Why? Because I think there are very few of us who get this abiding thing that Jesus gave to us as a gift.

Jesus tells us that when we come to Him, He will give us rest. He also says that when we learn from Him we will find rest for our souls. Now, I don't know about you, but I haven't looked at rest like that, ever. My idea of rest has always been a break from the norm. Doing something that takes my mind off whatever is stressing me out or creating tension in my life. Think about the rise in popularity of adult coloring books alone. The purpose of them has been to get us to stop and do something that is relaxing so that we can rest. But rest doesn't come from an activity, it comes from abiding in Jesus. Going to Him repeatedly for what He's already given and promised for a lifetime with Him.

I think what's most difficult about this concept in our lives is that we are continually pursuing things because we believe pursuit is what gets them. And while on the surface that might appear true, it is only through the abilities that God has given us to live, breathe, and walk, that we can get anything. And both rest and abiding in Christ are no different. We can't will ourselves into His rest because we already have it. And we can't force ourselves to abide because it is only Jesus who provides it.

"Abiding in Jesus is nothing but the giving up of oneself to be ruled, taught, and led, enabling the disciple to rest in the arms of Everlasting Love." When I read that, it makes me think of how many deicsions I make in a day. There are times I just really wish I didn't have to think about anything and someone would just tell me what to do to give my brain a break. Ironically, that's exactly what Jesus asks us to do when He tells us to put on His yoke. "It is not the yoke, but resistance to the yoke, that makes the difficulty; wholehearted surrender to Jesus, our Master and our Keeper, is what finds and secures our rest."

And therein lies the whole of my problem. My heart is divided. I want Him to tell me what to do so that I don't have to think and so that I can rest in the knowledge that He's got it all under control, but only so far as He is in agreement with how I want it done and when. Clearly He doesn't work that way.

I will be the first to admit that this theme of rest is getting harder and harder because the stakes seem to be getting raised higher and higher. But like all the difficult things that I have endured in the past, I can be assured that this is in my best interest. He never promised the road would be easy, just worth it. And if struggling through to find the rest I've already been given but have steadfastly refused to accept because I want my way also requires some hard lessons, then I suppose that the rest days following this wrestling match will be worth every sore muscle I have.

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