Friday, September 19, 2014

Entering Rest

We long for rest ...
                          Yet, simultaneously we evade it.

It's uncomfortable to admit:  I sabotage my own deepest desires.  I long for stillness, both internal and external, and still I can find myself keeping a pace that puts rest just out of reach.

What keeps us from resting?

The answer is so individual.  God made life to include rest.  He rested after the six days of creation.  He set aside the seventh day as holy - set apart for rest - and He made it paramount that we should find Sabbath by honoring that day and setting it apart for Him as well.

And then Jesus ...
He says He IS our Sabbath.  Sabbath was created for man before we even fell into sin ... and it was a day for rest and refreshment.  Like Mary when her sister Martha was buzzing around with misguided preparations we need to sit and choose the needful thing.

And what is the needful thing?
It is Jesus Himself.
It is abiding in Him and His love
... for apart from Him we can do no thing of worth or use.

So what gets in the way of us pausing, setting aside our "to do" list, letting go and being still in rest?

For me the answers have been revealed over time.

For many years I was caught up in people pleasing  - not wanting to let people down or have them think ill of me.  So I would say "yes" when I should say, "no" or take on tasks that I thought would impress them or get them to draw nearer to me.  Thankfully, much of this root has been dug up and eradicated in the past few years so that I let my "yes" be "yes" and my "no" be "no" and I seek higher reasons for my choices today.  But we grow in increments and we slip back sometimes, so I need to search my heart and ask myself the "why" behind my choices to be involved in each activity.   

Another reason I have kept rest at bay has been that I saw my value as being rooted in my productivity.  I was a human-doing, more than a human being.  Growing up in a home where standards were high and perfectionism hung in the air like fog, I was driven and I never learned to let down my frenetic pace.  When I am not doing, I am prone to feel a bit restless.  It has taken time to learn to sit long enough to let the stirring of my soul settle like debris in a shaken jar.  It is uncomfortable to sit through the settling.  It's easier to stay active - the world and our own habit condones constant activity.  We have to choose the harder road.  Sometimes it is the lonelier road for a while too.   

Deeper still is this fear that God won't meet my needs when I do still or that I have to face pain when I finally allow space.  And, just so you know that has sometimes been the case.  Not that God didn't meet my needs - He always has - but sometimes I didn't "feel" Him the way I hoped I would and I almost always had to experience some pain and difficult emotions in the process of finding rest.  I'm a comfort seeker and the path to rest isn't always comfortable.

Whatever your barriers to rest, God knows them.  He isn't surprised or shocked.  He is with you and is awaiting your willingness to help you lift them and move beyond them.  He is doing it for me.  I'm continuing to grow in my capacity and skills at learning to rest.  He is gently leading me there.

It may help you, as it has helped me, to ponder His invitation to rest:

Come to Me all who are
heavy-laden and are weary
and I will give you rest
Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me
for I am gentle and humble of heart
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy
and my burden is light. 
Matthew 11:28-30

Do you hear Him calling to you?  He knows the burdens you carry - even burdens you have long forgotten or thought He never would lift.  Are you weary?  He promises rest.  We can take this yoke.  Picture it now - the laying down of your own weight of worry, sadness, anger, hurt, longing and giving Him the burden while you take on this yoke.  By the yoke He will lead and teach you as you walk in His way.  He is gentle.  He is not a stern task master.  He is humble - stooping to share the load and bless you with His care and rest. 

His yoke is easy.  

His burden is light.  

Now, consider how seriously He wants us to take this invitation to rest: 

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;

for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,  

just as God did from His.

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest …

Hebrews 4:9-11

Make every effort.  Isn't that paradoxical?  We are to make effort to rest.  God knows rest won't just happen.  We need to make it a priority and we need to make effort to enter.  

I'm taking this seriously and I have friends who will text me and say, "don't forget your whitespace today" or "be sure to rest too."  So, here are some things I'm purposing to do in this season to make an effort to enter that rest ... maybe one or two will strike a chord with you and you can try them on for size ...

  1.  I’m saying “no” ... I'm setting limits, leaving margin, and being willing to disappoint some people so that I can fulfill the most needful thing.  I will have to turn down good things - even great things - to make room for time with what looks like no thing.
  2. I'm saying "yes"  ... to what really matters, to the things only I can do - like mothering my children and being a good wife to my husband - and I'm saying yes to small things.  Because small things often aren't so small after all: like, "Mom, will you watch me swing?" and "Do you have a minute?"  Those moments of giving an inch of myself matter big in the lives of those around me.  (And I'm planning to read Lysa TerKeurst's new book, "The Best Yes")
  3. I’m letting go ... of what others think, of thinking I play some pivotal role in life, of the pressure to perform and the fears which so easily make me think I can't or I shouldn't do what I know I ought to at least try
  4. I’m holding on ... to God.  Just that.  Because, what else is there, really?  And I'm holding on to the moment and the promise He gave me of rest in Him. 
  5. I’m allowing support... from God and from the people He has sweetly put in my life who love me in my imperfection and know I need to find this rest.  I'm being real with them and asking them to help me.  Asking for help just isn't my strong point, but I'm getting better at it - and I actually even like it these days.  God didn't place me in a vacuum.  He wants us to let others close and to serve one another.  It's good stuff, and it's worth the risk.
If what I'm saying here resonates with you, I know you will love the book Bonnie Gray has written called, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace."  In it, Bonnie shares about her childhood, growing up with abuse and living through a divorce and finding her way into a very productive adulthood only to end up with panic attacks and PTSD.  These very debilitating and painful experiences have been the bridges over which she has walked into greater intimacy and freedom and the result has been healing for herself and an extension of healing and rest to those of us who meet her along the way.  I encourage you to stop by Bonnie's blog, Faith Barista, and also to sign up for the give-away I am hosting in honor of my one year blogging ... Today I'm raffling off one copy of Bonnie's book.  Tell your friends.  I hope you win, but even if you don't I hope you check out Bonnie's blog and grab a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace .. it is a clarion call to rest in Jesus.   

The raffle entry is located at the top of my blog on the side bar ...

And come back here to Hearts Homeward anytime.  This whole week I am celebrating my "blogiversary" with special posts and four give-aways.  It's not just a celebration for me.  This is our celebration.  I write and pour out my heart, but you come here and you read and hopefully you take away some encouragement, healing and truth to spur you on.  Here's the line-up for this week ...

Monday, Sept 21
I will be posting on “Making Place and Space for Devotion as a Busy Mom” and I'll be giving away a signed copy of the devotional Breathe: 31 Moments with God for Moms by Jaimie Bowman.

Tues, Sept 23
My friend Barbie Swihart from “My Freshly Brewed Life” will be guest posting on Hearts Homeward. She is celebrating my blogiversary and has generously donated one of her amazing art prints called “Breath of God” for a give-away that day. You all will love Barbie as much as I do. She's a true encourager and has such a hunger for God.

Wed Sept 24
A fellow blogger and soul-journer, Lorretta Stembridge of “Dancing on the Dash” will be guest posting on Hearts Homeward. I'm so excited to introduce all you Hearts Homeward readers to Lorretta. She has a passion for Jesus and such a way with words.

Thurs Sept 25
I will be posting about “A Friend Loves at All Times” I have a lot to say about the longing for friendship, the role of friendship and the healing of broken friendship in this post. And, my sweet, adorable neighbor and friend, Davi Rebecca has graciously donated one of her needlework hoops in honor of my blogiversary. You can see her creations at her Etsy shop: "Wandering Stitch". A-maz-ing.


Kathryn Shirey said...

Congratulations on your blogiversary! Love 'Finding Spiritual Whitespace' - what an inspiring book!

Jodie Dye said...

Great post. I am encouraged to make every effort to rest today. I am in the middle of a move and it can be draining to say the least, so this was a timely word for me. Stopping by from The Weekend Brew to have a cup of coffee with you. :)

HeartsHomeward said...

Thanks, Jodie! So glad to "meet" a fellow Weekend Brew blogger. Moving is nothing short of crazy! I know how it goes. I am so glad this post met you in that place of need. There was a post on rest I wrote in June as well - when Bonnie was launching her book - and in it I had quoted a man who said, "we weren't designed to rest from our work, but to work from a place of rest." I know I've gotten that upside down for years. Our rest in God is the very ground from which we can enter into all life's activity - never leaving that rest as we go, and returning to it for refreshment. That's my new perspective and I'm making the effort to live into that. Praying rest for you right now. Come by Hearts Homeward again anytime.

HeartsHomeward said...

Yes! Kathryn! It is such a touching memoir and a call to all of us through Bonnie's vulnerability - with hope that God really is right there for us in our deepest places of need. Thank you for the congratulations. I'm just enjoying this personal celebration. It is a sweet time of remembering all God has done in this year. Thanks for coming to Hearts Homeward. You are welcome here anytime.

Barbie said...

I'm excited to celebration your one year blogiversary with you! I actually have never read Bonnie's book and would love to win a copy. :)

Melinda Lancaster said...

First of all happy blogiversary!!

You've given me much to think about. I fight rest tooth and nail. Argh. Always have a voice within saying "don't be so lazy." Wait. That would be my inner critic. I guess I never thought about examining the reasons I hear that our actively seeking to overcome it. But I know I should.

Whitespace is something I need. Guess a I'll put this word "rest" on my list of things to ponder.

Thanks for sharing. I can so relate.

HeartsHomeward said...

Oh, Barbie! I hope you win! I love you, sweet friend and if you don't win, I'm seriously thinking I'm just going to buy you a copy of the book anyway. You are one of the truest gifts of this year of blogging. Thank you for celebrating with me.

Heather @ My Overflowing Cup said...

Thanks for the beautiful reminder that we find our rest in Him, but we often need to be intentional about it. Thanks so much for the chance to win the book!

HeartsHomeward said...

You are welcome here and I'm so glad the reminder blessed you. Best wishes on the book raffle! I'll be giving away an art print, a darling hoop with needlepoint and a devotional for moms later this week.

Elizabeth Haber-Lopez said...

Beautiful post, Patty! And i loved Bonnie's book, Read it on your recommendation! Happy Blog-aversary as well! You are a gifted writer, encourager, and share-er of God's truths!

Chris Malkemes said...

Great post. You are an encourager and gifted as well. Keep up the good work. coming to you from Weekend Brew

HeartsHomeward said...

Thanks, Chris. So glad you came by and I truly thank you for that encouragement - your encouraging words blessed my heart today. I'm looking forward to reading your writing as well.

HeartsHomeward said...

Oh, Elizabeth, I can't wait to hear more about how the book touched you. We need to do coffee after you get home from Italy. It will need to be a long, long coffee so you can fill me in on all the joys of the trip and I can hear about your thoughts on Spiritual Whitespace ... and we can talk artists ...
Thank you for your sweet words. I am blessed and so grateful to have this place to share what God has given me.

HeartsHomeward said...

For some reason my reply (which I wrote yesterday) lodged as a separate comment, so I want to rewrite it to be sure you get it ...
You are very welcome here at Hearts Homeward anytime. I'm so glad the reminder was a blessing to you. The book raffle ended, but I encourage you to get a copy of Bonnie's book. It is truly such a wonderful call to rest and more. I am currently raffling off a devotional for moms and will also be raffling an art print and a darling hoop with needlepoint later this week.

Melinda Lancaster said...

I'll be back!