Rest

lightstock_81985_small_helena_ (1)   (excerpt from Boot Camp Workbook)

“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

Not many people use innter_athlete_stresswords like “weary” and “burdened” in their everyday conversations these days. But what about a word like “stress?” I’ll bet you can’t find a popular magazine without at least one article about stress – how to cope with it, manage it, survive it. We can stress about our stress, which often leads us to another frequently used word in our society – “depression.” Anti-depressant medications are one of the most often prescribed drugs in the United States right now. Depression is all too common. How about “anxiety,” “hopelessness” and feeling just plain “down?” Have you gone home recently and decided to just “veg” on the couch because you were exhausted from your day, or do you often wish you didn’t have to get up in the morning?

When Jesus was speaking the words in Matthew 11:28-30, was he speaking to us?   Of course He was. We all need rest. There is no one living, so at peace with God, himself and others that they are not “heavy laden and overburdened” at times. For many, this is the case most of the time. We all need rest… How do we find it?

How do we find rest?

The book of Hebrews states that the work of a Christian is to enter into God’s rest. lightstock_136893_small_helena_(Hebrews 4:1-9) For many of us this seems an impossible contradiction. How do we enter or find God’s rest? Do we stumble across it or strive for it? Is it something we must create or manufacture for ourselves?

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest – I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.

Rest…ease and relief and refreshment of our souls. Wow, are we ready for some of that? Jesus wants to “give” it to us. In fact, the Amplified Bible indicates that the direct outcome of coming to Jesus is REST! Jesus says He will cause the rest – we don’t manufacture it ourselves. As we receive His gift, we rest.

As we explore Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus invites us to join Him in that place of rest.  The entire teaching of this verse in found on the resource page under Boot Camp WorkbookRest.  Learning to enter into God’s rest will bring tremendous change in our lives… one that only Jesus brings.

Stepping Stones… Revealing God’s Plan

“Lord, your word says you have a plan for me… a good plan… for my good and to give me a hope for my future.  Lord, what is that plan?  What does it look like exactly and how and when will I see it fulfilled in my life?  I want to know Lord!  I thought I knew Lord… I thought when I stepped out and started that business, or when I got involved in that ministry, or when I married my husband and we started our family that I was doing what you planned and that it would definitely lead me to a future filled with hope and joy.  But God, now I’m not so sure.  I look around and my current life doesn’t look like what I expected… we’ve lost the business, the gift and talent you placed in me hasn’t been fulfilled in ministry; my husband and I are uncertain about our future.  What is happening God?  How can I know I’m following your path… your plan?”

I recently said a prayer that sounded very much like this.  It was closely followed by several conversations with women who were asking themselves and God the exact same questions… each of us struggling with uncertainty; struggling with the pain of disappointment over the past; struggling with big questions about our future.  God’s grace and His word speak truth in response to our heart felt questions…

The struggle happens when I view God’s plan as a specific role, position or achievement in life that, once reached, will somehow secure my future.  I want an “X marks the spot” and a map of how to get there.  I want God to specify my job or my ministry, where I live, who I marry or how many children I have.  Now, I know absolutely that God knew all those specifics about my life long before I was born… but still, they do not constitute God’s plan.

  • From the moment I turn my back on my old life God’s plan is for me to participate in the life of Jesus.

God’s plan is to renew my mind; mold my heart and transform my life into the glory of His son… Jesus Christ.  God’s plan is not a destination but a moment by moment journey.  Are there specifics along the way?  Sure there are… but they are not the goal or the thing by which God brings us into His kingdom.  The picture here is of Jesus leading and directing me on His path; where He goes… I go.  What He does… I do.

  • Jesus lives in me… I want to build on what I have been given.

Everything that goes into God’s plan for my life; into pleasing God, is given to me as I get to know Gargrave_stepping_stonesJesus personally and intimately.   God has laid stepping stones that clearly show me His path.  Jesus leads me… one step at a time.  And as He shows me what to do He also shows me how to do it… what my heart attitude needs to be.  As I walk along with Jesus I imitate Him… honesty – displayed in my business dealings, gentleness and patience – shared with my family, strength – shown to the doctors in the hospital, trust – when I lose my job, my retirement and my home.  Jesus teaches me to add to my faith… the qualities that enhance my effectiveness in sharing Him with those around me.  God’s plan for me starts the moment I surrender my life to Jesus and continues as I increasingly participate in His life and in His character.

  • Looking at my circumstances… focusing on my feelings… hanging on to what I expect or want life to look like means I lose sight of God’s direction for today.

It’s easy for me to blindly go through my day oblivious to the fact that Jesus wiped all my sins off the books and that he holds nothing against me that will separate me from heaven.  My perspective becomes narrow and my focus is on me… no rejoicing in my salvation, no thankfulness for Jesus… sometimes I just want what I want, when I want it.  That’s why it is so important that I commit my day to the Lord in prayer first… early in the morning… before I start anything else.  He gently reminds me of His presence and His everlasting love for me.  He infuses my spirit with His Spirit through His Word.  Jesus takes up His position… He leads, I follow.

  • Do what God sets before me to do today.

What I do today is not insignificant, not good enough or a waste of time. It is where God has me for today.  God doesn’t waste anything!  The way I conduct myself with my family, in my job and out in the community is important!  Jesus is always teaching me something… warm friendliness, passionate patience, sure determination, gentle acceptance, and generous love… these are the character traits that lead to excellence and integrity.  They are what I learn from Jesus when I participate in His life in and through me.

  • Find joy in the moment… no day will pass without my experiencing the life of Jesus within me.

I realize that with each moment comes an opportunity to take my time with what I am doing, time to explore and get the most out of whatever it is.  It is all important, and the joy of seeking and hearing the voice of the Lord in the moment fills me.  In Christ I avoid the trap of thinking that what I do today is the only thing that determines where I will be down the road.  It is “a” step… not “the” step.  Sometimes I put so much focus on individual situations that I either try too hard to do it perfectly or I get overwhelmed at its importance, get discouraged and quit.

  • Jesus keeps moving forward… He doesn’t stop and He doesn’t look back.

Do what God sets before me to do tomorrow and each day thereafter. When I look back I focus on my failures or miss-steps.  Jesus says, “Keep going.”  If I stop I guarantee much time will be wasted… He tells me to stick with Him.  I’m on firm footing, solid ground; a path leading through my circumstances, no matter what they are.  With these qualities growing in my life, He will use them to mature and complete me… according to His plan.

 Scripture: 2 Peter 1: 3-10

 A Prayer

 Father thank you that your plan for my life is for me to fully participate in the life of Jesus!  You have given me everything I need for a godly life through Jesus when He called me by his own glory and goodness.  My hearts desire is to increasingly walk in His character.  Every step I take with Jesus is an opportunity to add to my faith… goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love in increasing measure.  These are the things that bring peace and joy in the midst of my days, despite my trails and oblivious to my failures.  I thank you Father, the in Jesus I will not stumble on your path… I see your plan for my life fulfilled!

 

Never Lost in Uncertainty

I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.

I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.

I’ve been trying to write this blog post for a couple days. On Saturday a tragedy struck a family I have only known a short time, but have grown to care deeply about.  Ever since I heard, everything else has seemed somehow insignificant, and my words seem to fall into the abyss of well meaning yet unknowing chatter that brings nothing of importance.  So this morning, on my scheduled day to post I have nothing.  I am so glad that God’s Word has all I need.

There are so many times when we don’t know where to turn, what to do or how to take the next step.  Everyday tasks can mount up until they seem overwhelming.  Young women and mature women alike live such busy and demanding lifestyles today.  The ordinary things of life… our jobs, our children, our spouse… not to mention the interest we have in our communities and other life fulfilling activities, all of these can truly blind us.  They create a whirlwind of choices and decisions that swirls around in our minds and keeps us lost in uncertainty.

Sometimes we are faced with sudden and painful circumstances that make it difficult to know what to do… what to say… how to persevere and continue in life.  Depending on how personal the circumstance is to our life… the pain can be total anguish that completely blinds us and turns our life into total darkness.  Taking any step at all seems impossible.  God is there for each of us… in every situation.

I teach in Boot Camp that the way to God’s direction is in our relationship to Christ and constantly including Him in our choices and decisions.  Key to that principle is being convinced that God does not forsake us!  To forsake means to abandon or desert.  We need to be certain that God is always with us… not just in the overall, general sense of God being everywhere that we learned or heard as children.  But in the personal – intimate with our confusion and pain – sense that God is talking about in this verse.  We need to know that when we can’t see the next step He is right there to guide us.  We need to know the depth of His love for us.

God brings light into the darkness.  Have you ever been in a cave and had the tour guides turn off the lights.  Pitch dark! So dark you can’t see anything even an inch from your eyes… it is exactly what it’s like to be blind.  To think you might be alone in that place is staggering.  But then they light a match and the light that surrounds it is amazing.  You know you are not alone.

My personal experience of being abandoned as a child hindered this “knowing” for many years.  I struggled with the lie that when I needed God the most He was not there.  I listened to that lie and would keep my eyes shut tight… no sense looking for someone whom I was convinced wasn’t there.  Then I would blindly try to find my way, groping and grasping for anything that I thought might bring me comfort.  But God was there and He never left me even for a moment.  When I read and listened to His Word; when I listened for His still small voice in my heart, He brought grace and truth and I would eventually open my eyes and my circumstances glowed with His presence.

In the ordinary life struggles and in painful loss and tragedy God is there. In His moment by moment presence we receive mercy, love and comfort.  When we don’t know the way, He takes us by the hand and guides and directs us.  This verse shows us exactly how God works… In Christ we accept that He is present with us and reach out to Him… He comforts our lost and hurting hearts; levels our paths, guides and directs us … overcoming our blindness and confusion we become convinced even more of His love and presence with us.

“And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do and I do not forsake them.”

                                                                      Isaiah 42:16 ESV

A Prayer

Father God thank you for your constant and unfailing love for each one of us… individually… personally and intimately.  You are aware of the everyday yet overwhelming things of life. You are especially present in the midst of the tragic, desperate confusion we all experience sometimes. Your son Jesus experienced it personally; it was at those times He withdrew alone to pray.  I ask you to guide my steps, each choice and decision that awaits me today.  With you, my way becomes level and smooth, my heart becomes calm and sure.  Thank you that you do not forsake me!

Teaching on how to experience God’s direction moment by moment in your life is available in Knowledge~Relationship~Decisions under resources: Boot Camp Workbook.  Also please feel free to contact me by completing the “prayer request” form or the “contact me” form.  Both are confidential and are not posted on the webpage but are emailed directly to me.  You may indicate if you would like an email response from me.  Or… you can simply add a public comment below and post it to this blog.