I’m sure that to a lot of you rest sounds like the easiest word to focus on. Just take more naps, right? Sleep in on Saturdays. What’s so hard about that. But most of us don’t rest. And even when we sleep in, we’re not resting. We’re hiding or we’re just trying to survive.
God couldn’t have led me to a more appropriate word for the first few months of 2013. At the end of 2012, I started designing digital scrapbook products, then in February I opened at my first store, and now I’m helping to build that store back from the ground up. I’m also finishing up a two year internship at Karis Church, trying to raise a nine-month old, and working part-time at the library. Rest seems constantly out of reach.
But it’s not. It is if I think it’s up to me to make my business work. If I think it’s up to the quality of the flyer to make our women’s conference a success. Rest is out of reach if I think that I am Isaac’s only hope to grow up well. But praise God that none of that is true.
Rest means trusting in God
Real rest comes from placing our trust in God and knowing that the Lord is good, the Lord is in control, and He is gracious to us. It’s when I stop believing those things that rest becomes impossible to find. When I remember that ultimately God is the one in control of my business success, then I can step away from the computer and just read books with Isaac on the floor. And when I remember that God is ultimately the one shaping Isaac’s future, I stop worrying about whether or not I’m reading enough books to Isaac. (Though, to be honest, anyone who knows me knows that Isaac’s problem is not going to be not having enough books around.)
And when I remember that neither the success of my business or Isaac’s verbal skills are my ultimate hope, then rest comes easily.
Rest means saying “no”
This is one of the areas I struggle with the most. A lot of times, I think that I don’t struggle with what other people think of me. And sometimes that’s true. But I am always struggling with what I think of me. I have a fictional version of myself in my head that can say “yes” to every project and do it better than they expected and lavish in the praise they will heap upon me. It’s fair to say, that pretty much never happens. Even if I am totally capable of doing an outstanding job on something, I usually agree to too many projects, get stressed out, decide this same week than I should start making all our bread by hand, miss deadlines, panic, and end up with something that probably gets the job done, but doesn’t impress anyone. (And no sandwich bread, because inevitably, I don’t get the bread baked in time.)
I always think that saying “no,” means that people aren’t going to like me anymore. And maybe they won’t, but to be honest I don’t make a lot of friends with my missed deadlines either. Or when I take on products I’m not actually equipped for.
Rest doesn’t mean complacency
You might think I’m campaigning for a life where you say no to everything, quit your job, refuse to the dishes, and surf the internet all day. But I’m not. Rest, surprisingly, means working hard. Possibly even harder than when you’re not resting. But when you’re resting in the Lord, you can walk away from the hard work at the end of the day, and leave it to the Lord. You can say “no” to things with confidence.
In Isaiah Chapter 32, this is written:
“And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.