Last week I wrote a post, exploring some aspects of spiritual warfare (and how to fight it). Obviously, one can’t begin to span the depths in a few hundred words, but sometimes we just need a handlebar to grab into–some truth to motivate us onward. A friend thanked me for the reminders and I tried to encourage her further: “When the Enemy knocks you down, get up swinging.” Sounds good. In fact, we need to keep fighting with diligence (Galatians 6:9). As Lisa Harper states, endurance is ” an overlooked muscle group” in many a Christian’s work-out routine.
But sometimes, you just get tired. Sometimes that white flag and couch beckon you and you want to collapse in your fatigue. So, is it okay to “give up” at times? Of course, I am not referring to moral surrender, but more to moments of peaceful escape–rest. Life is war, yes…but is that all it is? After all, even soldiers have furlough. I’m in this mental tug-of-war with myself and then God reminds me of Psalm 23.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.”
So, battles don’t constantly consume my life? You mean, I’m not always intended to “walk through the valley” or sit at a table surrounded by my enemies? Resting is okay? Lord? Will you protect me if I lay down for a moment? Can I just wait and release my responsibilities for this time?
“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.” Matthew 11: 28-29
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
“For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” Psalm 18:31-32
I read over this Psalm and reminded myself: it’s not your strength, Kristin, that matters most–it’s His. Despite your best attempts, if He’s not in charge, all else crumbles. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:1-2 emphasis mine). How much are we trying to do from our limited human strength, mental capabilities, or spiritual insufficiency? How much of life do we tackle with a subconscious attitude that says, “I’ve got this”? And when we see that we don’t “have this” how quickly do we scramble to regain control? Psalm 46:1 reminds us that “God is our strength; an ever-present help in trouble.” He doesn’t expect us to carry the brunt (Put on the armor, yes? Be the whole army? No.) He’s our muscle, our wisdom, our direction, our Leader, and He’s not leaving us alone on the battlefield. Sometimes he sends us off and says, “Go, rest. See that quiet water? Let me refresh your soul and remind you that you aren’t alone in your struggles. I am here.”
Sometimes I just need to be reminded that “It’s not all up to you.” Take some time and release the wheel. Someone else stands at the helm, and trust that you won’t run aground. As a home-school mom, this truth allows me to exhale. I can start contemplating all the mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of my children–the things I’m supposed to teach and demonstrate–and I want to scream, “I need a paper bag! I’m going to pass out.”
- Rest, Momma. You aren’t raising these kids alone. And even if you did everything right–which you won’t–your kids will still make their own choices. They are–and always will be–His first. These children are merely on loan, and God’s mercies are new every morning.
- Rest, Daddy. You aren’t providing unassisted. You may be hard-working, diligent, and responsible, but your whole capabilities can be snatched instantly. It’s the Lord that sustains and nourishes. Take a breath; while you carry your family, bigger arms carry you.
- Rest, Single Friend. You aren’t in control of your future as much as you think. Take it one day at a time and don’t try to figure out the map’s every turn. Follow the One who cares for you and trust that He sees what you cannot.
- Rest, Newlywed. Marriage is still lovely and worth the effort, but it’s not always a Cinderella story. Remember the purpose of marriage (sanctification), but also remember that joyful service and even moments of fun demonstrate the beauty of God’s designed union.
- Rest, Cancer-Fighter. You are more than the sum of your ailments. You are cherished and celebrated. Remember to take a breath and rest in His love over you. What you are experiencing may bring confusion, but He does have a purpose and He will restore you to wholeness one glorious day.
- Rest, Confused Doubter. Life is full of dark shadows and sometimes we wander, wondering where the path went. Though all seems like a desert, keep lighting the path with His Word, seeking the face that seems elusive, trusting that He’s ever-present.
Take a moment to study the bluebirds or the rabbits. They don’t accumulate large nest eggs for the future, but they live one day at a time–God as their feeder. If the Lord will sustain seemingly insignificant wildlife, don’t you think He’ll intervene on your behalf, His precious child? Do you really believe overthinking will extend your life’s comforts or joys by even one day? If you can’t control the length of your lifespan, do you think worrying about all the rest will do you any good? Take a moment to glance at the wildflowers and trees that sprout in the woods: no one planted them and they didn’t put forth effort to their beauty, and yet even the wisest and wealthiest king can’t compare to them. If God gives beauty and sustains the life of the fields, which barely lives beyond a week, think about the greater attention He’ll give to you, oh, you of little faith. (extreme paraphrase of Luke 12:24-28).
“Cease striving and know that I am God;” (Psalm 46:10, NAS).
Kristin L. Hanley, author of Navigating a Sea of Emotions