What is your reaction to hearing someone mention or list out the events that have taken place in the year 2020? I believe most of us can’t help but shudder or succumb to headache and heartache when we reflect back on the events of the past year. Most people would agree that it has felt like a year entirely overwhelmed with fear, loss, anxiety, and exhaustion. In times where we have been called to stay home, rest, and take care of ourselves, (and others by doing so), a lot of us have found ourselves more exhausted from worry, fatigue, and longing for “normalcy”. Jobs have been lost, loved ones have been ill, and those in our immediate circle have had to be considered in every decision we make, now more than ever before. Not only do you have to consider and trust your loved ones, but now you must do so with strangers as well and hope that your health and well-being won’t be affected by any decisions they’ve made because now you have to consider and protect those in your circle. Even writing (and I’m sure reading) this is exhausting! Man is our world in desperate need of some true, spiritual rest.
In the midst of all of the tribulations our world has faced in the year 2020, I have felt a tug on my heart to discover the true definition of and purpose behind rest. I’m not talking about the “Instagram-story bingo” broadcasting all of the “restful” tasks we accomplished in the first few weeks of quarantine (i.e. reading 10 new books, finishing a puzzle, binging a series, etc.). I’m talking about true rest that can only be found in trusting the Lord Almighty with how He is at work in all things.
The first step of discovering true rest involves surrendering all things to God by acknowledging our innate need for rest. Oftentimes we find it hard to believe that the Bible specifically calls us to rest because we have become wired to operate in a world that teaches us we are to actively fight, lead the charge, never stop working, and always be aiming for the next thing. How easy it is to get lost in the whirlwind of measurements and judgments of the flesh when we operate on these principles. Naturally, we begin to believe that our worth is based on our productivity and growth - not on what the Lord says of us. We are His sons and daughters. He promises to lead, protect, and work for our good - especially when we hand it over it to Him in true surrender. By choosing to rest, we invite God in to do a work within us so that we can hear Him clearly and have a mind and heart that is ready to accept what He is waiting to show us. Ephesians 3:20 says, “God can do anything, you know. Far more than anything you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
When I think of how to tangibly practice spiritual rest, I can’t help but think about the song, “God I Look to You”, by Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson. Would you read the first verse of that song out loud with me?
“God I look to You. I won’t be overwhelmed. Give me vision, to see things like You do. God, I look to You. You’re where my help comes from. Give me wisdom. You know just what to do.”
What if we incorporated those lyrics into our prayers each morning? What if before our feet even hit the floor, we allow our minds to rest in the beauty of this acknowledgment of our desperate need for His intervention and guidance in our day? What if instead of inviting anxiety in the second our eyes open, we choose to speak out with our need for God and His infinite wisdom and sovereignty? What if instead of running circles in our minds around all of the worldly “what if’s”, we had conversations with our Creator asking Him to reveal His purpose behind the questions, the struggles, and the unknowns? What if we asked Him to show us the working in our waiting? These are the “what if’s” I want answers to.
In a year that has felt burdened by worry, loss, grief, and anxiety, let’s turn our eyes on Him, seeking true rest and trust in what greater good the Lord is at work creating. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. We can bring our burdens, anxious thoughts, and unknowns to His feet, and acknowledge that our Lord asks us to rest so that He may do a work in our hearts. Then, we can walk boldly knowing that our Lord intervenes and equips us for whatever may lie ahead. We just have to allow ourselves the space to see it.