Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Rhythms of Rest

Last night the wind was blowing just the right amount to send a gentle gust of air through our bedroom window over to the wall. Once it hit the wall, it gusted behind a long vertical paper scroll that we have hanging on the wall and down to the wooden dowel that holds the bottom of it straight.  Once it hit the wooden dowel, it swayed one side of it out a little and then let it fall back to the wall and cause a small, rhythmic thud every 10 seconds (I know, because I counted!) The scroll is a gift from a young girl whom I mentored one summer. It is Psalm 23 written in Japanese and it is lovely. 

At first, I considered ways to make the rhythmic thudding stop: close the window, push a chair up against the dowel, take the wall hanging down. But after a few minutes, I began to like the sound. It was gentle and predictable and became almost soothing. 

Living with a chronic disease means that it cannot be fixed...aside from a miracle! That means that no matter how hard I try, how many different methods or treatments or drugs are introduced, the disease continues to remain, continues to make a 'thud' sound on the wall and continues to challenge me to learn how to rest in spite of it. 

Rest, I used to think, was what could happen when everything was set right. If relationships were fixed, misunderstandings cleared up, finances in order, calendar planned, holiday booked, lawn mowed, weeds picked, bird feeder full, supper in the oven, car cleaned, email box empty, teeth brushed...you get the picture. 

The reason people are drawn to buy a hammock or book that trip to the Bahamas is for rest...relaxation...a break from the stress of everyday life. But if the guy in the hammock and the girl on the beach are still thinking about how to fix everything...then the hammock is not working and the trip is in vain.

When Jesus spoke to a group of people on the side of a mountain, he was offering them rest. But He didn't offer them cheap rest...He didn't say, "work hard and get things in order...and then enjoy some rest", He challenged them to find rest in the midst of chaos.

Jesus said... "You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You're blessed when you're content with just who you are–no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat." Matthew 5:1-6 (The Message)

This is the thudding of a wooden dowel on the wall. This is the daily pain of a chronic disease. This is the patience waiting through broken relationships. This is the endurance of being misunderstood or short on cash or looking for a life partner or deciding which direction to step in your life. This is laying in a hammock with the lawn half-mowed. 

Can we do it?

Can we trust God to be enough for our incomplete, imperfect lives? Can we rest in the midst of chaos? Not because we have gotten our ducks in a row but because God is the great duck organizer and knows what really matters. 

I say we can. After 20 years of living with pain, doctor appointments, scans, ultrasounds, mri's, surgeries and medications...and a it-never-goes-away reality...I say we can. 

Thank you Jesus, that You are who you say you are! Your love for me is new and fresh every morning. Your presence in my daily life is real...and I can feel your closeness, your encouragement, your guidance and your love. Thank you that you offer real rest to us, despite our circumstances. Help us to put more trust in You and less trust in the ducks-in-a-row theory. May we learn to listen for those 'thuds' of a wooden dowel on the wall and allow you to transform it into a rhythm of rest for our souls. Amen.