With tears welling up, I shared with one of my closest friends about a really hard decision I had made. A decision that left me feeling both confusion and peace, sadness and expectancy. A decision to step away from something good in order to enter something better.
And then my friend spoke a reassuring word, one re-centering line to me, “For everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Oh, how the Father’s whispers can be so loud and clear, and yet how easily I dismiss them. Because sometimes I’m afraid, sometimes I’m too busy, sometimes I’m overwhelmed, and other times I’m just plain stubborn.
The Call of Rest
Over and over again in the Bible, we read the accounts of men, women, families, and nations on the merry-go-round of fear, distraction, and pride. And over and over again, God’s voice can be found teaching, correcting, and loving them back to Him, even if that means letting them go their own wilderness way for a while.
Like here, when the prophet Isaiah voices his frustration over the people’s destructive, sinful choices in light of the restoring grace of God:
“God has told his people, ‘Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.’ But they would not listen. So the Lord will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured.” – Isaiah 28:12-13
Seems a little harsh, right? But God disciplines us to draw us close. To strip away the things that may puff us up and pull us down, so He can humble our hearts, hush our heads, and Heaven-fix our gaze.
“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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
The Way of Rest
But all too often, the call to rest can become one more box to check, one more burden to bear, one more failure to add to an already miserably long list. And before we know it, a gift that the Maker intended for our freedom – for our good – is cuffed to the thief of joy.
So, in God’s all-knowing wisdom and love, sometimes the only way to restore the blessing is to allow the story of loss and suffering, interruption and failure, brokenness, and dashed dreams to be the lines that are written for us. His ways may not always be ours, but the burden really can be light and free. He makes everything beautiful in its time.
It’s been said that rest is war. And I believe it with all of my heart. I have battle scars to prove it. I am also certain that “Rest is a rhythm. Rest is a gift. Rest is a command. And rest is an invitation to realignment.”* It’s how we were always meant to be. Not to mention, rest is practice for Heaven.
A little here, a little there.
Or maybe, like me, you need to undo what’s been done for quite a long time. So, you put on brave and say no to that thing (whether good or not so good) draining the tender life out of you – in order to say yes to the rest of these summer days.
“The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives great wisdom.” – Isaiah 28:29
*John Mark Comer, host, “Stop: The Rhythm of Creation.” Rule of Life Podcast, Season 1, Episode 2, Practicing the Way, 26 September 2022.