Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Learning to Rest.

The truth is, I wanted to write an entry today because it's February 29th. And whenever it's February 29th, I feel like I should make the most of it, since it only comes around every four years. So, here goes.

A few days ago, I wrote a brief blog about rest. It took me a long time, but when I first began to truly grasp that the core of our faith is about rest, not striving, relief overwhelmed me in a sudden flood that I have never recovered from.

Relief, yes. But also, throughout the years, varying degrees of extreme frustration. I'm a striver, you see. It's what I do. I have lived with a people-pleasing mentality as long as I can remember, and if there's nothing I can do to get the gold star, the star that keeps the guilt and insecurities away, that lets me know I'm good enough--well, that's when the self-hatred starts to creep in. Or bang down my front door. Either way.

We live under this delusion that if we stay busy doing "good" things, then God is happy with us. When really, we're just burning ourselves out, pouring out all our strength, never going back to our Daddy for more, and then we wonder why we feel so empty. There's a reason God gave us an entire day dedicated to rest each week. There's a reason Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better. There's a reason we feel dead instead of alive.

Because we're not entering the promised land God has already won for us. "There remains a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest..." (Hebrews 4:9-10).

Make every effort to enter that rest? Yes. Paradoxically, it can be a struggle to enter His rest. A thousand other things demand our attention. Guilt tugs at our heartstrings, telling us that we should be doing something, that in these quiet moments we are losing an opportunity to get something accomplished. But it's a lie. Holy lives flow out of a relationship with our Father, and if we don't take the time to be still and know that He is God, it's incredible how quickly we'll lose sight of Him, even in the midst of church activities and good deeds.

I once went to a church where a woman spoke a beautiful truth over me. She said I’m floating down a river, and I need to just relax and enjoy the ride. God has something for me that requires a lot of strength, and the joy of the Lord will be my strength. I don't need to do anything. Just float. And every so often, duck my head underwater and take a drink.

Sometimes, when I'm stressed, guilt-ridden, and running on empty, that image comes to mind. And then I feel myself letting go, not fighting the current anymore, but allowing the strength of the Spirit to take over, drawing me straight into the heart of God. I drink deeply, and it gives me peace.

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