Tag Archives: rest

Sailing Through Life – Part 5 When You’re Getting Nowhere Fast

While sailing at sea my wife and I tried to get in a walk each day. As we did so I was struck by how the direction and speed with which we walked created a clear picture of another life lesson. If we walked in the same direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were making more and faster progress than we really were. On the other hand, when we got to the other side and walked opposite the direction the ship was heading and looked at the water it appeared we were losing ground with each step. It seemed that for every step forward we went backwards 2 or 3. On this side of the ship all I could think of was the old saying, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get.” The image that came to mind was trying to walk up a down escalator. (1)

Have you ever felt that way? That you’re getting nowhere fast – that for every step forward you are taking 2 backward? That instead of gaining ground you’re losing ground? That the faster you go the further you get behind? The harder you try the wearier you become. Yet, you hesitate to stop or slow down for fear you’ll not complete your task on time, if at all. And the strength fades as the fatigue sets in. What to do?

Not surprisingly, the Bible has an answer. The wise preacher declared, “The race is not to the swift…” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) It is not our speed through life that counts. It’s our efficiency and strength – managing our body and soul well. When the losing ground feelings arise it’s time to slow down. No wonder the Psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:8). God is saying, “Slow down. Stop. Let go. I’m here to help.”

Certainly God knows whereof He speaks! Recall what happened after 6 days of creating the world: “… on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2) What’s good for God is good and necessary for us. So God addressed the need for and importance of rest when He laid down His 10 commandments: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11) God repeated the command often – as in Exodus 31:15 (Good News Translation): “You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a solemn day of rest dedicated to me.” (2)

It only stands to reason, then, that Jesus not only observed the Sabbath Day but also disciplined Himself to rest. Often he withdrew from the crowds and disciples to a mountain in order to rest and pray. He also wanted His disciples to develop the habit of resting. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31) Jesus also invited us to develop this ‘rest discipline’. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

So when you’re going up that down escalator remember: Slow Down! Stop! Let Go! Get in the habit of not only setting aside the Sabbath day weekly, but beyond that, set aside some portion of each day.

Try taking time to pray this prayer:

“Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tension of my nerves with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations of slowing down; to look at a flower; to chat with an old friend or make a new one; to pet a stray dog; to watch a spider build a web; to smile at a child; or to read a good book. Remind me each day that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed.”

Then when you run you’ll run faster, when you step ahead your steps will be farther apart and your strength will be greater. And it will be amazing where you’ll go and what you’ll get done in the strength of Jesus.

Keep in mind what lies ahead: I heard a voice out of Heaven, “Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end.” (Revelation 14:13)

(1) Creator: Einar Kling-Odencrants — Copyright:x-default .

Getting a Good Rest

It happens so often. I’ll sit back and turn on the news (largely because I want to catch the weather and sports reports.) It’s not long before the weather report comes on, and the next thing I hear is the news anchor thanking me for watching! I’ve awakened to realize I’ve missed what I tuned in to hear! Then, of course, when I go to bed I have some trouble getting to sleep! It all has to do with how to enter into a good rest.

Hebrews, chapters 3 and 4 is all about resting. The author knew God’s people needed to discover a whole new lifestyle called resting in the Lord. So near the end of this section of his letter he explains how to enter this precious rest: “For the word of God is living and active…” (Hebrews 4:12) Rest comes from the Word of God.

Rest comes from the Word of God because God’s Word exposes the truth. “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 4:13) The Word exposes things as they really are.

You receive a box in the mail. It has no labels or identifying information regarding where or who it’s from. You have no way of knowing what, if anything, is inside it. Only by opening it up, uncovering it, can you see and know the truth. Similarly, opening the Word reveals the truth, and lets us see ourselves the way we really are! No creature has any cover from the sight of God. God’s eyes have unlimited exposure! Before him we are laid bare, uncovered, naked!

The word for “laid bare” is the word from which we get “trachea.”

The picture which comes to mind is that of the criminals who were marched to execution. They had a dagger strapped to their chest, pointing upwards, so their head would always be lifted up, exposing the trachea. This way they could not bow away from God but had to face Him. So the Word makes us face the truth about ourselves and God. No matter how hard we try to keep things hidden God, through His Word, lays bare our lives and uncovers all we’ve tried so hard to hide.

God does so to heal and set us free. Jesus said to the Jews who believed in Him, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” That’s why the woman from Samaria, who encountered Jesus at the well, eventually told her friends, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” She was free! Exposing the truth frees us. Back before it was discovered that hands carried germs, many surgeons were frustrated to perform successful surgery only to have patients die from an infection of unknown origin. Then came the discovery about hands and germs. It was this truth which set us free from death. Exposure to the truth heals.

A Christian university student shared a room with a Muslim. As they became friends, their conversation turned to their beliefs. The believer asked the Muslim if he’d ever read the Bible. He answered no, but then asked if the Christian had ever read the Koran. The believer responded, “No, I haven’t, but I’m sure it would be interesting. Why don’t we read both together, once a week, alternating books?”

 

 

 

 

 

The young man accepted the challenge, their friendship deepened, and during the second term he became a believer in Jesus. One evening, late in the term, he burst into the room and shouted at the long-time believer, “You deceived me!” “What are you talking about?” the believer asked. The new believer opened his Bible and said, “I’ve been reading it through, like you told me, and just read that the Word is living and active!” He grinned. “You knew all along that the Bible contained God’s power and that the Koran is a book like any other. I never had a chance!” “And now you’ll hate me for life?” queried the believer. “No,” he answered, “but it was an unfair contest.” (i)

The reality is that to be completely known is one of our deepest needs. We need, and deep down inside we want to find someone who knows us completely and who will still be for us. We cry out with Job (Job 23:3-5): “If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling! I would state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would find out what he would answer me, and consider what he would say.” I am deeply moved every time I read these words of A. W. Tozer: “God knows us completely. No tale bearer can inform on us; no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past to God. No unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us since He already knew us utterly before we knew him. And He called us to himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us.” God’s Words exposes the truth so we can experience the overwhelming love and grace of Jesus Christ and be freed from the burden of hiding so much for so long!

That’s why the author of Hebrews puts these words about the Scriptures into the discussion on rest. The Word is an oasis for parched, tired lives. Psychologists say that mental health consists in coming to know ourselves fully, in losing our illusions and exposing our pretenses, in squarely facing all the facts, in confronting all our fears, in admitting all our failures. The Word tells us this can only happen under the grace of Christ. So Hebrews continues, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest, who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith that we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Expose yourself to the truth. Live each moment believing Jesus, who knows all and sees all, will always bear with you. And you will enter into wonderful rest.

(i)Floyd Schneider, Evangelism for the Fainthearted (Kregel, 2000); quoted in Men of Integrity (March/April 2001)

A Lesson from the Sun

There is a reason I love sunsets – more than just the fact that my wife and I love to see them in all their splendor. There’s just something about standing on the pier jutting out into the great lake and watching breathlessly as the sun paints its splendor on the horizon. It’s not unusual that, as the last chip of the great red ball fades below the horizon, the gathered crowd bursts into applause; on occasion someone even manages a “Yea, God!” But there’s yet a greater reason. One Sunday morning years ago as I drove to church, the eastern sky was aglow with the first burst of the rising sun. That’s when it hit me. God has messages attached to his sun.

Consider the rising sun – in the Bible it’s the symbol of a new day – everything and everyone awakens with a totally fresh start. Even the lamenting prophet understood it: “…my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him” (Lamentations 3:20-24). Similarly, the setting sun signifies the end of day – the opportunity to make things right before resting for the night: “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27). And there is yet a third symbol, from Revelation 22:5 – “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” This represents the time when our hope is fulfilled. As the hymn-writer penned it:

Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning, when with our Savior heaven is begun;
Earth’s toiling ended, O glorious dawning – beyond the sunset when day is done.

Beyond the sunset no clouds will gather, no storms will threaten, no fears annoy;
O day of gladness, O day unending – beyond the sunset, eternal joy!

Beyond the sunset a hand will guide me to God the Father, whom I adore;
His glorious presence, His words of welcome, will be my portion on that fair
shore.

Beyond the sunset, O glad reunion with our dear loved ones who’ve gone before;
In that fair homeland we’ll know no parting – beyond the sunset forevermore!

So every sunrise and sunset reminds me of new opportunities to experience the peace and rest of God, which only prepares me for the eternal rest and peace to come. And what should I do each day until THAT day? Let one more biblical sun image provide the answer: “Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised” (Ps. 113:2-3). There’s the reason I love sunsets – God wants to remind me, and you, of the agenda for the day: Praise the Lord!

 

A Shady Life

I admit – I live a shady life.

But it’s not what you think. I’m not dishonest, crooked, underhanded or shifty. Rather I’m shaded and sheltered. Here’s what I mean.

A desire for being in the shade and shadows brings to mind the time we took our 3 boys to Washington DC. It was hot. No – it was scorching hot. It was so scorching hot that the front page of the news showed a row of parked motorcycles all tipped over laying on their sides. In the intense heat the blacktop had softened so the kickstands sank, tilting the cycles until they all fell. Now that’s hot!

I vividly remember the sweat and fatigue. We planned our walking routes so we could get periodic spots of shade – it was the only relief and rest available outdoors. And even the air conditioned buildings seemed muggy and stifling. Perhaps that’s why I identify so easily with the Psalmist who prayed “…hide me in the shadow of your wings…” (Psalm 17:8) The wings are another image of and symbol for the cloud. What we would have given for some shadowing clouds on that day! (1)

The Psalmist uses the imagery again: “The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, or the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.” (Psalm 121: 5-7) The Lord is a shadow for all the distresses and threats we encounter – any time, day or night.

How can we be sure? Jesus points to Himself as the wings of God. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” (Matthew 23:37) What a picture! When her babies are in danger Mama Hen spreads her wings to protect them. Pretty much what human mothers do for their children!

The issue is whether or not we will plan our routes to go under His wings.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Underlining mine) The shady spots are available – sometimes God’s wings and shade are right where we are – but oftentimes we need to go to the shade – like the hens need to go to Mama. The Psalmist knew it – he made it clear: “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91: 1-4). Curry’s Paraphrase: When we dwell under His wings we will have rest during the heat and storms of life.

One final image – Jesus hangs on the cross with His arms outstretched. His wings are spread. He’s offering the refuge of a shady life for all who come to Him.

The words of William Cushing say it eloquently: “Under His wings I am safely abiding, Though the night deepens and tempests are wild, Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me, He has redeemed me, and I am His child. Under His wings, under His wings, Who from His love can sever? Under His wings my soul shall abide, Safely abide forever.” (2)

(1) See my three previous posts: Life in the Cloud, More Life in the Clouds, Living in Glory

(2 Under His Wings, William O. Cushing

Time Out

The Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas seasons have the potential to be exciting and  beautiful. I said, “have the potential” because research shows that for many it is depressing – loneliness increases, broken relationships are magnified, families get unusually stressed, and indebtedness grows. These are some of the reasons the suicide rate increases at this time of year.  I’m not trying to be morbid – just trying to make a point. For all its glory and grace, this time of has become a struggle to survive. And even if none of the above is true for you, there is a common ground for all of us – we dread Thanksgiving to year-end because we know we’ll be way too busy.

With that in mind, this anonymous piece from a daily clergy email devotional I received makes an important point. May it be both a challenge and a blessing.

“Satan called a worldwide convention.  In his opening address to his evil angels, he said “We can’t keep the Christians from going to church.  We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth.  We can’t even keep them from conservative values.  But we can do something else.  We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship in Christ.  If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken.  So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time so they can’t gain that experience in Jesus Christ.  This is what I want you to do, angels.  Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!”

“How shall we do this?” shouted his angels.

“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent unnumbered schemes to occupy their minds,” he answered.  “Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, then borrow, borrow, borrow.  Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6 or 7 days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles.  Keep them from spending time with their children.  As their family fragments, soon their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work. Over-stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that small still voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive, to keep the TV, VCR, DVDs, CDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes.  And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical, contradictory music constantly.  This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ.  Fill coffee-tables with magazines and newspapers.  Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day.  Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk-mail, sweepstakes, mail-order catalogues and every kind of newsletter and offering products, services and false hopes.”

“Even in their recreation let them be excessive.  Have them return from the recreation exhausted, disquieted and unprepared for the coming week.  Don’t let them go nature to reflect on God’s wonders.  Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead. And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions. Let them be involved in soul-winning, but crowd their lives with so many causes they have no time to seek power from Christ.  Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”

It was quite a convention in the end.  The evil angels went to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful in his scheme?  You be the judge.

How about this definition of BUSY:

Being Under Satan’s Yoke

Satan’s goal is to take our minds away from Christ and steer us towards the cares of the world.  God wants us to enjoy life, but He must be first.  If we are too busy for God, then we are too busy!”

Take Time Clock Meaning Rest And Relax

Slow down – and Have a peaceful, blessed holiday season!