Re-Thinking Rest.

In those who know Him there is a quiet, restful strength which speaks of great depth of life.

T. Austin-Sparks, On Knowing the Lord, 1930

The summer of 2009, I’d gone to Houston to help Dad bolster Mom’s nutrient intake. She’d been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and wasn’t eating enough. One afternoon, while prodding her with a spoon to her pinched lips -this disturbed, unfamiliar character who’d inhabited Mom’s body- she’d become glassy eyed and distant.

“I’m tired,” she moaned.

An 84-year-old woman, a faithful homemaker tirelessly raising six children, who fought a cruel disease that’d stolen her previously sunny disposition, ought to be tired.

I nodded understanding. “I’m tired, too,” I whispered, knowing her tangled brain couldn’t acknowledge.

Today, I’m still tired, fighting periods of mental and physical exhaustion.

But I’m not alone, as recent conversations with friends and acquaintances has so enlightened me. Basically, we are an all-around, plumb tuckered out bunch of people.

Here’s what I’ve heard…

~Chronic illness

~Loss of a 23-year old son to overdose

~Emergency gall bladder surgery

~A fractured knee cap

~Adult children living sexually immoral lifestyles.

~Husband’s deployment

~Financial shortcomings

~Social media-driven loneliness

~The whacked out state of our economy and teetering political landscape (What, President Trump hasn’t fixed everything yet? What gives?!)

~Addicted and rebellious kids

~Daily commutes into DC from Fredericksburg, VA…

The list goes on.

And on.

Relentless disappointment makes the heart sick….

Proverbs 13:12a

Weariness, tiredness, exhaustion. It all creates a heartsickness and apathy to the degree that another bombing in Syria makes me care about as much as I care that my neighbor’s Great Aunt Martha in Waxahachie, Texas, missed her hair appointment.  Whoop-dee-do.

As another of my labored sighs huffed out, the prophet Elijah came to mind.

Following the notorious Mount Carmel demo, complete with due destruction of the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:1-40), Elijah got word from the servant of Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, that she would stop at nothing to end his life. Gripped by fear, Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” I Kings 19:3a Within the desert, he sat down under a broom tree and prayed he might die. “I have had enough, Lord, “ he said. 

Elijah was tired. The fight, the struggle, the concern, the exhaustive prayers, the zealousness for the Lord God Almighty, the ache for God’s people to stop murdering, rejecting God’s covenant, destroying places of worship…fear of inadequacy.

As some say around these parts, he was wore out 🙁

I get this. So do those I know. And so might you.

Now, consider Gideon. In addition to the emotional weight he bore from others’ criticism and resentment, God whittled Gideon’s army to “only” three-hundred men as he prepared to fight the Midianites. God did this to demonstrate His limitless power (His), that Israel might not boast against Him that her own strength had saved her (Judges 7:2).

How’d that go for Gideon and the guys?

Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it.

Judges 8:4

My own strength will fail. If I’m exhausted or tired or weary, typically it’s because I’ve reached MY end and allowed fretting, keeping up the pace, choosing idolatrous alternatives, to sap my strength.

Then Jesus reminds me in the oh-so-familiar passage in Matthew about rest for the weary“Take My yoke upon you.” (11:29).

Now, this city-bred girl knows enough about a yoke to understand that it’s used for WORK. What rest is there in that? Because scripture invites my weary soul to rest, thank you very much.

“My soul finds rest in God alone…Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.” Psalm 62:2, 5

Yes, rest. However, God’s rest isn’t that He’ll tuck me in bed, serenade me with a lullaby until I’m asleep while all the mess of life is figured out. No. [bctt tweet=”God’s rest is a call to press on, to keep up the pursuit.” username=”MaryAFelkins”]

Otherwise, I’ll end up with a very satisfied Satan on my hands who’d love to watch my eyelids droop ’till I’m out for the count.

God’s strategic military move of only three-hundred men didn’t promise Gideon and his men they’d not become exhausted, but that God’s strength would sustain them through the battle and bring about the victory.

“Are you tired? Worn out? (Yes, Lord)…Come to Me…I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with mewatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace….Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. ”

Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

Staring across the expanse of my own ‘Jordan River’ or out here plowing my fields, I’m tired of being tired. So, where’s Jesus’ yoke? Because life isn’t letting up, so I need to come to Him and ReSt.

4 Comments

  1. Bill Albers says:

    A beautiful message from the soul full of life experiences.

  2. Margaret Eomurian says:

    The three months I have spent recovery from a fractured kneecap have taught me more about the value of resting-and not running-than any sermon I have ever heard. Great message, Sister!

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