William Barclay said that “True prayer is asking God what He wants.” Too often our prayers are driven by our own perceived needs and selfish desires instead of focusing on what God wants to do in us and through our situation. We are focused on the here and now, but God’s eyes are also on the next and the not yet. He is capable of foreseeing every possible twist and turn our lives might take, and is always making a way for us to use the gifts He has entrusted to us in a way that furthers His Kingdom and glorifies His character. While Jesus longs for our happiness, He knows the quickest route there is to steer us toward holiness.
Archives For rest
Mornings have become my favorite times. For a lifelong night owl, this has been quite the transformation over the past several years. Ever since I moved to Indiana, I have fallen in love with the early part of the day. The temperature is mild and the humidity level is comfortable in the hours before the sun comes up fully. The sounds of birds and insects provide an amazing symphonic backdrop to the exquisite colors bursting forth on the new day. It is peaceful, quiet, and calm. The stillness of the morning engenders stillness in my heart. I am awed by the beauty that surrounds me and bask in the exquisiteness of God’s creation.
Sometimes I forget to breathe. Life comes at me so fast that I find myself leaping from one project to the next, one crisis to another, and in the midst of it all I am holding my breath and simply holding on. The daily grind of life can become so consuming that we scarcely recognize the toll it is taking on us both physically and spiritually.
We were not created for this. Jesus told us that in Him we would find comfort and rest. He didn’t promise an easy going life of safety and ease, but He did say we would find rest in Him. When was the last time you shut everything down and just rested in the presence of God? I’m one of those people who will simply never get bored. I have project lists that would stretch miles and I love to continually discover and learn new things. Being a musician I also have an equal obsession with audio, and there are very few times when the stereo or computer is not doling out an endless parade of songs in my house. Through it all I have lost the ability to thrive in silence. I’ll be honest with you, total quiet makes me a little nervous; I feel like I should be doing something. My internal engine aches to be moving on to the next action of my current project instead of sitting and basking in the lack of distraction. It is ironic that one of the most disrupting events for me is that of utter silence; I truly struggle to concentrate in that atmosphere. I have become a product of my environment rather than the balanced and vibrant person I was created to be.
I need rest; we all do. Occasionally, life will throw us a curve that will force us to take a break and reexamine our lives, to slow down and catch our breath. Whether this is due to an injury, illness, job loss or other traumatic event in your life, it’s important to recognize those times as a gift and not a curse. Sometimes in our haste we ignore the signs telling us to take a breath and God chooses to intervene and force the issue. Again, don’t rebel in these moments; understand that we all need a break to refocus our attention and retune our hearts toward Jesus and His mission.
We must all learn to become comfortable in silence. Take the time to simply stop and pray; allow yourself a moment to do nothing but listen to what God is telling you. Remember, God tends to speak to us not in some dramatic or boisterous fashion, but rather in a whisper into the stillness of our lives (1 Kings 19:11-13). When we don’t take the time to pause in our life, we miss countless opportunities that God is placing before us. Remember, we were all created to do good works for Christ (Ephesians 2:10), and if we don’t intentionally investigate what those works are, we will squander the opportunity to glorify God and reflect His love to others.
In the rush of your life, take some time to get away by yourself and reflect on all you are doing; make certain that God is the central focus of every task. In a results oriented society, it is far too easy to focus on ourselves rather than our Creator. Ask Him what it is He would have you do, and then look for opportunities to serve. Don’t miss the chance to glorify God. Remember, this was the whole of Christ’s mission, to bring glory to the Father. As followers of Jesus, this is our foremost goal. A life spent glorifying God unequivocally results in a life well lived. Don’t waste another moment being too busy to rest. Let go of everything that is filling up your life. Find a place of quiet, pray for His peace and just breathe.
Following Jesus is an adventure in passion and energy. Every day we seek out others in need in order that we may demonstrate the love of Christ by serving them. It is often a thankless job, as we serve them when no one else is looking. We work tirelessly not only to complete our own tasks, but works of service for others as well. A person willing to serve freely quickly gains a reputation, and soon you are on the speed dial of numerous committee’s and organizations. This is why so many who start with good intentions burn out not long after they started. What’s the secret of living a life of burning passion without being consumed by the flames? The answer, as always, is found in Jesus.
Jesus was intimately involved in the creation of our world; the cycles of that creation offer ready clues as to how we should live our lives. Looking simply at the twenty-four hour cycle of each day, it becomes obvious that each day was created with a time to work and a time to rest. In our modern electrical society, the lines have been blurred and we no longer have such a clear separation between work and rest hours. Just because we can work twenty-four hours per day does not mean we were created to do so. We should work diligently while there is light, and rest when night falls. While we must occasionally make exceptions to this rule, we need to be careful that they are indeed exceptions and do not become the rule.
The six days of labor and one day of rest model that God demonstrated for us has been frequently discussed and analyzed. Still, it seems that six thousand years later (give or take), we still haven’t gotten the point. Work passionately for six days every week. Work at your vocation, work on chores around your residence, and work in service to your family and others. But when the remaining day of the week (traditionally Saturday or Sunday depending upon your perspective, beliefs or upbringing) rolls around, take that day off. Taking the day off does not mean that you save all your household tasks for this day. Taking the day off means a day without tasks. Go to church, spend time with your family and friends, read a (non work-related) book or watch a positive movie. Take a nap, take a drive, take a break! This is your recharging day. God said to work for six days and rest on the seventh. That’s good enough for me.
You have been created for both work and rest. They work hand in hand, and must be kept in balance if we are to maintain good health and vibrant energy. As ambassadors of the king, we must always be at our best. We are at our best when we are healthy and energetic. Follow God’s model of both work and rest. When we are operating our bodies in accordance with the way He designed us, we will find that we can accomplish more and feel better than we ever have before. Work diligently in service to others as you pursue a life that looks like Jesus. But don’t neglect to recharge your spirit with sleep and prayer. Don’t forget to rest.