Be At Rest

“God is at work. He does not slumber.
Christ intercedes. He does not fail.
The Spirit comforts. He does not forsake.
Be at rest. Be at peace.
Your name at the end of the day is Beloved” (Ann Voskamp).

You and I can be at rest and have peace, even on those Mondays when our devices aren’t working, when our circumstances don’t cooperate with our plans, and when fear and anxiety seem to have the upper hand in our thoughts.

We can rest because we know that our identity is not what we do but who we are. Or whose we are.

All the diplomas and titles and honors and rewards in the world count for nothing apart from Christ, and nothing is lost if you lose everything and still have Jesus.

That is peace. That is rest.

 

Blah, Blah, Blah– Another Assortment of Randomness

I had all these great ideas about what to write for my blog post, but I’m feeling a bit under the weather at the moment, so I’ll throw several of ’em in and see what sticks.

My grandmother turned 93 yesterday and we celebrated today. I’m convinced that people back then were made better than they are now (just like everything else). She may not have her memory or know what’s going on all the time, but she’s a resilient ol’ gal that’s as likely to make it to 100 as anybody.

At the Church at Avenue South, the pastor talked about Sabbath and how we need the rest. If you go 110% all the time without ever taking any down time, sooner or later your body will remind you in not so subtle ways that it’s good to stop and rest. No one can go 24/7 infinitely without a break. Even Jesus took naps and periodically sought out places to be alone.

The Tennessee Titans may be reverting back to their old sucky ways, but my fantasy football team is 4-1 as of today. Last year, all the breaks went to my opponents, so it’s nice to finally catch a few breaks myself.

I don’t feel awful. I just feel a little stuffy and achy (with a slight fever), but I’m not the typical male who’s ready to have his last rites read. I’m hoping some Vitamin C and a good night’s rest will have me back and running at full speed on Monday.

My little kitten Peanut continues to crack me up with her crazy wild antics. She also continues to eat and poop like a racehorse (as well as almost literally grow leaps and bounds right before my eyes). She’s no longer the tiny thing I brought home from the shelter over 3 months ago.

I’m still holding out hope that next week will finally bring some actual fall weather where I can wear flannel and/or jackets. I’m way past done with sweat-inducing weather. I’m sure the people downwind of me are, too.

That’s all. Happy Sunday and have a great week!

 

Sabbath Rest

“In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply. ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that, you need to be still. Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness. It is both time on a calendar and a disposition of the heart. It is a day we enter, but just as much a way we see. Sabbath imparts the rest of God—actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God— the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness” (Mark BuchananThe Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath).

I’m still mulling over what Chris Brooks said at Kairos tonight about Sabbath rest. We don’t rest from our work as much as we work from our rest.

Most of us go non-stop full speed ahead for five days and then come to a screeching halt for two days. Then we start the madness all over again.

Some never stop. They go all out, thinking that sleep and rest can wait. Unfortunately, their bodies often have different ideas.

I think very few of us know how to work from our rest as a form of worship. That’s what the Hebrew word for work also means– worship.

Rest sounds really good to me right now. Actually, sleep sounds great. I think I’ll take myself up on my own advice and call it a night, but not before leaving you with this little nugget.

May you find the rest of God by resting in God, staying your mind on Him throughout the day and working not for but out of your approval as a son or a daughter of God.

 

 

Finding Rest for Your Souls

“We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health” (Greg McKeownEssentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less).

Tonight’s topic at Kairos was keeping the Sabbath.

It was not the usual guilt trip about how you shouldn’t go to Wal-Mart on Sunday or how if you skip church you must be a heathen pagan.

It was more about how God designed the seventh day for rest. Not merely sleeping in one day a week (though that is a good thing in my opinion) but truly resting in body, mind, and spirit.

Chris Brooks, the Kairos pastor, pointed out that we don’t rest from our work as much as we work from our rest. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for work can also be translated as worship, so even our labors can have an element of rest in them if we view our jobs as offerings of worship rather than just tasks and to-do-lists.

I still love what Macrina Wiederkehr said: “Work is love made visible.” When we see that our job isn’t something we endure to get to Friday, but an act of worship and a demonstration of love, then it becomes less of an ordeal and more of a joy.

In a world where busyness is glorified and justified and promoted, God says to rest. God says that you can get more done in six days with a day set aside for rest than you can by charging ahead full speed for seven days without a break.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30, The Message).

Fixed Hearts

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen” (Collect for Fifth Sunday of Lent, Book of Common Prayer).

I’m getting a little ahead of myself (and a couple days early for this collect), but I do so love this one, especially the part about “swift and varied changes” contrasted with “our hearts may surely there be fixed.”

That’s the key. Everything else is fleeting. From one moment to the next, you can never count on anything to be the same. Just when you’ve gotten used to something, it changes and becomes something completely different.

But Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He’s that place where our hearts can surely be fixed and can finally find rest.

That’s comforting and assuring during this season of Lent where we seek to find our bearings again and to be reoriented to the Truth that does not change with the culture or with passing trends or societal norms.

In a frenzied and frantic world, He still leads us beside still waters and restores our souls. Even in the midst of the deepest darkest valleys, He’s with us and His rod and staff still guide us.

That’s what I’m hoping and praying you and I find during this season of Lent and Easter– rest. Not lots of good naps (although they are still the best way to pass a Sunday afternoon), but times of refreshing where you are rejuvenated down to the core of your very being. That’s what I want for all of us.

 

It’s Still a Dog-Sitter’s Life

I’m back dog-sitting on this lovely Thanksgiving evening. I’m thankful that ol’ Millie is still around for me to take care of her again. She even gave me an enthusiastic greeting when I walked through the garage door earlier.

I still think most of us could learn a lot from dogs. They know how to appreciate the little things that most of us take for granted, like going for walks or enjoying your foot or getting a nice head rub. Not nearly enough humans appreciate the joys of a good head rub.

Yes, I just about ate myself into a tryptophan-induced food coma. I probably gained 15 pounds, but it was well worth it. On a side note, I have to give props to my nephew Ethan for his help with the meal. We just might have the Food Channel’s next new star in the works.

But after all that, I’m hanging out with a friendly geriatric dog who is currently snoozing away (which I will be doing very shortly). It could be all that tryptophan from earlier.

That’s another lesson people could learn from dogs– when you’re tired, take a nap or go to bed. Too many of us wreck our health by not listening to our internal clocks and pushing ourselves beyond what we were intended to bear. Rest is not weakness. Rest is simply confessing that you’re human and can’t pretend to do it all.

So that’s it. I’m thankful for being able to dog-sit this friendly old gal who I still hope lives to be at least 20 so I can have many more dog-sitting opportunities in the future.

 

 

Soooooooo Tired

This is my experience lately. Maybe you can relate. Maybe you can’t. So here goes.

I basically am on the go at work from 7:30 straight through until 4 pm (taking 30 minutes for lunch).

From there, I headed south to the Goodwill on Highway 96 where I made some good $2 music finds. Those are always the best kind.

After that, I walked over to Bar-B-Cuties for a stellar dinner, including the world’s best fruit tea. If you’re ever at a Bar-B-Cuties, you should try it.

Following the grub, I went in the direction of a friend’s house where I attend a Life Group, but I stopped off at a pet store because I would have been super early to his place. I browsed and bought a little something for the cat.

After all that, I made it to my friend’s house and finally sat down. Then I was tired. Really tired.

It’s funny how that works. As long as you’re on the go, you don’t realize how drained you are. Not at least until you stop. Then all that activity catches up with you.

As much as I’d like to fall back a couple of hours tonight so I could sleep extra, that’s not the best kind of rest.

The best kind of rest is the kind Jesus promises to all those who are weary and heavy-laden. He says, “Come to me, all you who work to the point of exhaustion and I will give you real rest.”

Not necessarily sleep, although that is sometimes part of it. What Jesus means is the rest from striving to perform in order to measure up to some artificial standard (either your’s or someone else’s). It’s ceasing from feeling like you always have to do more and be more to be complete and fulfilled.

Jesus says, “I love you just as you are, not as you should be or as you wish you could be or how everyone else wishes you would be. Come to me, right now, just exactly the way you are, and I will get you to where and who you need to be.”

That’s true rest.

 

Learning the Facts of Life

I had a random Union University memory today. A friend of mine mentioned that he had a jamocha shake from Arby’s when it was cold outside, which got me thinking about my own jamocha shake experience. Specifically one.

My dorm room was at the back of the campus. Across the street lived the place that made my drug of choice, the jamocha shake. Plus, the fact that I could literally walk half a block to get one made it all the better.

So I decided one night to get one. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo that they closed. I arrived just in time to be told, “Sorry, we’ve closed for the night. No jamocha shake for you.” Not in those words, but something close to that.

I did get my shake eventually, but I also learned to pay attention to the time more closely.

Today, I had a salted caramel mocha, one of the harbingers of the arrival of Autumn. It’s also one of my favorites. That, the pumpkin spice latte, and the caramel apple cider are the three best reasons to frequent Starbucks in the fall.

For me, fall is a reminder that sometimes it’s good to slow down and savor life. That to-do list never goes away and never gets smaller, but sometimes you find when you leave a few items unchecked, the world actually doesn’t come to a crashing halt. Somehow, life goes on.

It’s better when your life has margins, when you aren’t so jam-packed with busyness that you have no down time. There’s a reason why God made the Sabbath. No one can go all-out for 7 days in a row, week after week, and not burn out and break down.

I personally have never had a problem with going full speed for too long. I like my naps. I like my quality therapy time with my cat Lucy in my lap and some quality TCM programming in front of me.

If all you have time for is one deep breath, take it. Breathe in and breathe out and remember that ultimately it’s not up to you. God’s got this.

 

 

Oh So Tired

I finished the work week and I am tired. I mean dog tired. Or better yet, cat tired, since cats seem to sleep more than dogs. At least my cat does.

I’m looking forward to turning off the alarm clock and sleeping in tomorrow. That will be lovely. No 5:40 wake-up call for me. No sirree.

It’s the good kind of tired. It’s the kind of tired where you feel like you’ve accomplished something productive and made a difference, albeit the tiniest, in people’s lives.

I’ve learned that sleep is God’s gift. Some nights, it doesn’t matter how tired I am. I simply can’t sleep. I also noticed that I do my best sleeping just before my alarm is set to go off. What’s up with that?

Sleep belongs to those who know it’s not up to them to figure it all out. Sleep belongs to those who understand not just intellectually but experientially that God is in control of every aspect of their lives.

It still amazes me how my cat can fall asleep at any moment in any place at any given time. Cats never have insomnia. I suppose they have a lot less on their little kitty minds to keep them awake at night.

In fact, my cat is asleep close to me as I write all this. I suppose when you’re as cute and cuddly as Lucy is, what better way to exhibit it than to sleep all the time. Plus, you get the added benefit of being your own blanket.

So here’s hoping and praying that you find not just sleep but rest. Here’s hoping and praying that you can rest in the knowledge that your Abba is very fond of you at this moment just as you are. And His love will lead you all the way to where you need to be.

 

A Beautiful Prayer

“You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are almighty.
You, holy Father, are
King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One,
Lord God, all good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good,

Lord God, living and true.

You are love,
You are wisdom.
You are humility,
You are endurance.
You are rest,
You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches,
And You suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector,
You are our guardian and defender.
You are courage.
You are our heaven and our hope.
You are our faith,
Our great consolation.
You are our eternal life,
Great and wonderful Lord,
God almighty,
Merciful Saviour.

Amen” (St Francis of Assisi).

Once again, I think this covers it. I found this through Daily Celtic Prayers and Inspirations on Facebook. See, there is some redeeming value to social media.

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes when you can’t find your own words to pray, it helps to borrow other words. Obviously, you start with the Psalms and other prayers from the Bible (including the Lord’s Prayer), but sometimes you can also pray the prayers of other men and women of God down through the centuries.

Here’s one more you can add to your list.