"Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
It is useless for you to work so hard
from early morning until late at night,
anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to His loved ones." - Psalm 27:1-2 NLT
"This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
'Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it.'" - Isaiah 30:15 NLT
"The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told Him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, 'Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.'
He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn't even have time to eat.
So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone." - Mark 6:30-31 NLT
"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'"
- Matthew 11:28-30
The world has become so noisy, and we have grown all too used to it. Or have we? Is it a coincidence that anxiety and depression are more prevalent, that overwhelm and loneliness are all too common? The other day, a friend of mine said he would pay a lot of money to take technology back to where it was in the 90s. I can't help but agree. It gave me a simple yearning for easier times.
We're constantly intaking information on our phones. When was the last time you went a week or more without using your phone for more than texting and calling? Recently, my husband and I took a week off our phones, and it was as though someone turned off a noisy machine that had been running in the background. There was so much peace and space to be more productive, and to simply be.
Along with intaking information, our society still struggles with the idol of busy-ness. Where has all this striving and productivity gotten us?
The more time I spend in the presence of God, the more I realize how unhurried He is, and how He actually desires us to live unhurried lives. I imagine the Kingdom of God includes longer time around the table with each other, stopping on our way to the next thing to acknowledge and perhaps bring a little healing to the other humans around us (as Jesus did), and daily centering our attention on the One who should be directing our every step.
All our working, earning, and buying often removes our need to rely on God's provision. We can't rest, because WE are the only ones who can get things done, to make things happen. How will we learn to trust God's provision if we never allow room for God to provide and rest in our trust in Him? The first Psalm quoted above came to life for me when our home was robbed years ago. My husband and I had built a life together, and so much of it was ransacked and taken away in a matter of minutes. Through that experience, it became clear that we can work and work for things, but it's all in vain unless we continue depend on God and the life and rest He provides us.
Let us not be among those who "would have none of it." We have access to strength and confidence in God, if we're able and willing to rest in Him. To remain in Him, not fixate on the culture and world around us. How beautiful is that story from Mark! Jesus' disciples had just returned from the work Jesus had sent them out to do and His deepest desire was to retreat with them to a quiet place together. Jesus often shows us the more important thing. The gospel accounts are full of instances when Jesus went away by Himself to rest in the Father's presence. Now, upon His disciples' return, He simply wants to be together, in a quiet place.
He still eagerly desires those quiet moments with us. Away from the noise and myriad voices vying for our attention.
"'What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn't we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt?'. . . But Moses told the people, 'Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.'" - Exodus 14:11-14 NLT
The Israelites immediately failed to trust God, even as God was providing the thing they had been praying for. They stood at a seemingly impassable road, at the edge of the Red Sea, with the Egyptians on their heels. Instead of waiting to see what God would do, they wanted to turn back to what was familiar, even though that meant slavery, oppression, and pain. All they needed to do was be still and watch God work a miracle, manipulate the actual sea, to rescue them.
Nothing about Jesus' life, and what He invites us into is rushed or striving. Full of interruptions, yes. Jesus was constantly interrupted by the crowds around Him, but He never treated them as such. Jesus treated those interactions with incredible patience, attention, and care. Jesus modeled rest and presence so beautifully for us.
The peace and rest that Jesus offers is nothing we can experience from the world around us. Jesus longs to take the burdens off us, really. There is no need for us to carry worries or burdens, Jesus is there, ready to shoulder the crosses of our lives, waiting to part the Red Seas to reveal a road, eager for us to fall back into the arms that will always catch us and sustain us.
When we are truly able to rest in who God is, His power and wisdom and actual unconditional love, our trials do seem light and momentary. In this season of Advent, I pray that you can find your rest in Christ. Find quiet moments to be calm and still in the presence of the One who came to earth to relieve all our burdens.
Which of the verses above resonate with you the most in this season of your life?
In what ways do you make an idol of busy-ness? How do you live as though you're the only one who can take care of things? Simply put, what are you not trusting God with?
Dream big: if you were to truly let go of control over an area of your life, what would it be and how would you want to see God move in that area?
Share in the comments! I'd love to hear your thoughts!