Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
-- Isaiah 40:30-31
When Can I Rest?
By Belinda Elliott
Have you ever slept all night, just to wake up the next morning as tired as you were when you went to bed the night before? The last few weeks I’ve felt like a zombie merely sleepwalking through the day, anxiously waiting for the hour when I can crawl back into my comfy bed. Why is that?
It’s not from a lack of sleep. I typically go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, as sleep experts recommend. In fact, it’s not a feeling of sleepiness that I’ve been experiencing as much as it is a feeling of just not being rested.
Recently, in one of those quiet moments when I was reflecting on life and not really thinking about anything in particular, the Lord brought a verse to mind that I think holds the key to why I’ve felt so restless.
The verse was from Psalm 91: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty."
Rest, yes, that’s what I want! I thought. How does the Bible say I can get that again? Should I take a vacation? Maybe plan a retreat to a tropical island somewhere?
It was then that I felt the Lord whisper a question to my soul, Have you been dwelling in the shelter of the Most High?
According to Webster’s Online Dictionary, to dwell means “to remain for a time, to live as a resident, to keep the attention directed.”
I had to ask myself, Have I remained in the presence of the Most High for any length of time lately? Have I been keeping my attention directed toward Him?
Not really. It seems I often try to pack so much into one day that I’m constantly on the go from the time I wake until the time I go to bed. My quiet times become more like a quick breakfast stop at the local drive-thru rather than a good cup of coffee and a long chat shared with my Best Friend.
This past Sunday was a good example. My husband and I awoke early to get a head start on our busy day. In addition to Sunday school, we managed to fit in serving in one of the church’s ministries that I’m involved in, hosting a baby shower immediately after church, helping the new mom get the gifts to her house, and sharing lunch with my inlaws. After that, it was off to a Bible study that my husband leads, and then back home for a gathering that we had planned at our house for later that night.
As I flopped into bed that night exhausted, it dawned on me that although my husband and I both spent time in ministry and serving others that day, I felt like I’d completely missed God. Perhaps I had rubbed shoulders with him in the hallway as I rushed from one area of the church to another, but I had not spent any quality time with Him.
I identified with Martha from the Bible. When she and her sister Mary hosted Jesus in their home, Martha became frustrated that her sister was not helping her with the preparations. When she complained to Jesus about it, His answer was simple: "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)
How often do I do that, choosing to do other things rather than choosing to spend time simply listening at Jesus’ feet? Between the things I have to do for work, home, and church, I tend to put a high price on any free time that I do have. Rather than opting to spend that time with God, I can often be found flipping channels or curled up with a good book. Unfortunately, it’s not usually the “Good Book,” but rather some thrilling new suspense novel.
I’m always searching for those few moments of rest and relaxation, thinking they will recharge my batteries. But they never do.
Recently, the Lord has been showing me the error of my ways. He created us not only to serve Him (and to serve others in His name), but also to simply be with Him. Spending time with Him is just as important as anything that we could do for Him or for others.
It is in those quiet times with God, that He speaks to us and restores our souls. It is during those times that He renews us and strengthens us to do His work. Without His renewing power, we will not only fail at the tasks He gives us, but we will wear ourselves out trying to do them in our own strength.
It’s often not a vacation on a tropical island that we need, but a daily respite from the world. I don’t need to run off to some exotic location, I simply need to spend more time in my prayer closet dwelling in the shelter of the Most High. After the dwelling, comes the resting.
How rested are you feeling? If you always feel rushed, stressed, worried, anxious, or simply not at peace, perhaps you need to ask yourself where you have been dwelling.
Jesus has promised us that when we come to Him we will find rest.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)
Take some time to dwell with Him today, and find the rest that your weary soul has been searching for.
Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Meet Him today.
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