My favorite Bible verse has always been Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God." (NIV)
For years, God has been teaching me to cease striving, to be still and know.
I'm not there yet. Although, I've definitely come a long way.
Yet sometimes I wonder if I will ever really get it. Sometimes I practice being still so well. Other times, not so much…
I suppose that most of us have learned to strive too much. Our experiences in the world teach us to strive more than be still.
Even so, God asks us all to step away from the ways of the world, to have a new way of thinking (Romans 12:2).
The lion share of a renewed mindset means that we operate from a place of trust in God. We work to trust him, to find his peace.
We find peace when we break our ties to fear.
Fear is not allowed to run our lives anymore.
We are not the children of fear. We are the children of God.
Christ calls us to lay down our fears.
Jesus asks us to lay down the burdens that life in the world attempts to place upon our backs. He invites us each to take up his light and easy yoke, to learn his ways of operating.
I like how The Messagerenders Jesus’ invitation:
"Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:29-30).
I like that. "Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."
The Passion Translation is pretty sweet too:
"Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant and easy to bear."
How freeing to think that God invites us into a life of purpose that is still "pleasant and easy to bear."
It takes the pressure off. It helps us take our hands off our lives a little bit more--to relinquish some of our ideas of control.
I've always appreciated Jesus' invitation to rest. Yet, I have often struggled with applying it to my daily life.
What do the unforced rhythms of grace look like in a season of uncertainty?
How do we find rest when some of our concerns never go away?
Health concerns, financial considerations, ministry issues, family issues, friendships, and relationships; the needs never cease. No matter what life looks like, these pressures are perennial — they come back again and again.
So how do we live in a place of rest?
Hebrews says that we "strive to enter that rest".
I think I have misapplied that concept for much of my life. I often try to work hard. I focused on getting through the task at hand. I would mentally check the box and move on to the next thing.
I was always assuming that when I got enough done, I would find myself in a better position, then I could rest.
Work as hard as you can. Then rest. Honestly, that strategy hasn't worked out as well as I would like.
Someone recently suggested a new approach. My friend suggested working from rest, rather than working for rest. How novel.
Working from rest, rather than working for rest.
To me, this means the difference between starting from a place of faith rather than a place of uncertainty.
It means believing that things will work out well, that God has a good outcome in mind.
It means beginning the task at hand with a little bit of trust that God will do something great with my efforts.
It means that I am responsible to supply the effort, but God is the one responsible for the outcome.
Working from rest means believing that God has got this, that it will all be okay one day. It means daring to believe that this might actually go really well—even better than I can imagine.
Working to find rest is an approach that is fraught with uncertainty and fear.
Working from rest is an approach that frees us up to live in hope, creativity, faith, and fun.
It brings us closer to God.
It gives us grace; it enables us to move with grace.
It empowers us to move with a graceful flow. Not so tired. Not so stilted and choppy.
Instead, we move forward, flowing with the currents and facing the challenges of life with a belief that in the end, it will all be okay.
Working from rest means operating under the assumption that things will be good. It means that we risk believing that this will work out and that this too shall pass.
The invitation to "be still and know that I am God" comes at the end of a psalm where everything is going awry.
The world is in upheaval, people are in an uproar, hostile actions flare, and rock-solid foundations crumble. Amidst this fearsome backdrop--a scene where everything is going terribly wrong--God invites us to enter His rest.
Somehow, God is not worried.
He remains confident in the final outcome.
Jesus took this to heart. His disciples found him peacefully napping--taking a moment to rest--in the midst of a storm that had them on nail-biting edge.
This year has brought an odd mix of storms and serenity.
Big storms loom on everyone's horizon. Foundations are shaken. Mountains crumble and nations are in an uproar. Craziness abounds.
Even still, the invitation to rest remains.
No matter what storms we face, God's invitation to rest is still an option we can choose.
In all things, we can know the peace that comes when we cease striving. When we surrender operating out of our own power and learn how to operate from his rest.
Worry and fear take a terrible toll on our hearts and souls.
Yet, the yoke of Jesus is light and easy to bear.
God has a better way.
In all things, he invites us to be still and know.