Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


The Work of Rest

I have trouble in bookstores. 

Not because I buy more books than I need or because tip over the displays, I struggle with reading the book titles. They make me tired. Do you know what I mean? Even the really good books with great intentions can still have a sense of pressure to them. 

“Be more, change this, fix that, improve, try this, alter that - become something and someone new!”

I was in a bookstore this week and I really tried to read through the back covers and the introductions but I still felt weary. This was a Christian bookstore and the section I was standing in was called "Christian Living". 

My heart’s greatest longing is for people to know rest. The kind of rest that warms a smile across their face, causes them to take a liesurely sip of their coffee and look outside their window a little longer than usual. I long to see people walk into church with their hearts already filled up with God’s love regardless of how imperfect their church may be. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see husbands and wives and kids love each other from places of rest rather than anxiety. What if we were able to give, serve, and love out of a rested heart rather than a guilty one?

Now you may be thinking . . . come on Heather, be realistic. Life is hard. There are stressful things in life that you cannot control and rest is impossible to find until those stresses find closure. Or you may be wondering if the rest I'm describing is a day at the spa, soothing music and herbal tea. 

What I'm talking about is the kind of rest for our souls that God gives . . . "But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely." Galatians 5:22-23

When fruit appears in an orchard, it doesn't make lots of noise or announce suddenly that it has arrived. It arrives because the tree has been nourished daily with sunlight and water, stretching its roots deep into the soil. It has been quietly 'working'. 

The work of rest for our souls is quiet too. We needs daily nourishment from God's word. We need to soak in the sunlight of His love and grace and forgiveness to us. We need to take our restless hearts, our anxious minds, our struggling health to God and ask for Him to create fruit in our lives! His action . . . his work . . . his fruit that appears in our lives. That is the work of rest.

So my friends, if you're going to do any resolutions for the new year, if you're going to set any goals and pursue dreams and ideas that you've always wanted to do - go for it. But don't forget to do the work of rest at the same time. Then, as Paul says in Galatians. . . we'll "find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."

Happy New Year