I tend to find myself chronically overcommitted. As the famous poet Vanilla Ice once said, “If you’ve got a problem, girl, I’ll solve it.” If I’m not extremely careful, this can become my mantra. I love to help… and sometimes I even find my identity in it. Until a few months ago, I went to bed with my makeup on and a to-do list running through my head most nights. Statistically, most of you reading this are right there with me. As a society, we are the busiest we have ever been, despite having the most technology to “free up our time.”
I tried to rest. I really did. I went to bed early when I could, I spent some girls nights watching Netflix and chilling out with my girlfriends, and I even started stretching and some light yoga. I read articles about self-care, and yet I felt nothing but weary. The tired-crazy-restlessness reached its peak last summer when I was working, leading worship weekly, planning a wedding in 4 months, and making almost all of the decorations. In the midst of this, my best friend and maid of honor was in a car crash that should have killed her. She lost her memory for a few terrifying hours. No matter how much I tried to help, there was no guarantee I’d get her back. Finally, finally, I was ready to give up. I found myself crying out to God, “I can’t do this anymore! What do you want from me?! I’m trying so hard to do everything perfectly for you!” In that instant, a little voice whispered to me a scripture I’d heard before…
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I sat back, a little shocked. I thought of everywhere I had been seeking rest… but not even at the bottom of my list had been to seek it in the presence of God. The one who invented the Sabbath. The one who designed my tired soul. The one who says He’s a water to thirsty hearts. How had I gotten it so wrong? How had I stopped thinking of my Father as my resting place?
Life tells us that relationships are work, and they certainly can be. It’s not a bad thing to understand the weight of loving someone. Love means being intentional, and showing it with our lives. We are created to pursue God and know Him more deeply every day. We forget, though, that rest was His idea, and He wants to give it to us. As believers, we should be more rested, more free, and more at peace because we know Jesus. We should be able to sit at His feet like Mary, and not feel guilty or unproductive. A moment in His presence accomplishes more in our weary hearts than a million items checked off of our to-do list or a whole binge-watched season of our favorite show.
God wants to walk in the garden with us. Every day. We forget that He simply breathed on us to give us life. When is the last time you just sat for a moment and experienced the goodness of His presence? He may not answer all your questions. He may not change your circumstances to be easier. He may not speak in a thunderous voice or give you a promotion. However, He will always, always change your heart if you wait for a moment.
Part of resting is remembering two things:
- His love cannot be earned. You can’t make God love you more. You generally can’t make your real friends or family love you more, either. (Unless, perhaps, you get them a trip to Paris). You are already unconditionally, unbelievably loved. So just lay down your bag of tricks and your secret weapons. Step into the freedom of knowing you don’t have to overextend yourself to keep Jesus happy. He wants to take your burdens off your shoulders.
- Rest is only one breath away. God isn’t sitting in heaven filling out a progress report on you and giving you Ds. He’s sent his Spirit to dwell within you. If you can bring yourself to be still for just a moment, He’s already there. He wants to breathe on you again. Just whisper His name and quiet your heart. He’s Emmanuel.
My best friend? She found new purpose in her life after the accident. My wedding? Turned out beautifully. My busy world? Changed completely by my new habit of resting daily. My relationship with God? So much better when I let Him give me what He’d wanted to all along… rest in Him.
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