Finding Rest

A reminder that tomorrow we will commit to praying and fasting for God to bring marriage to those of us who desire it, to strengthen both men and women in their personal and relational lives, and to bring change within our hearts, minds, and spirits.

As I write today the wind blusters and howls outside like a tempest.  The skies are blue, but the position of my home on a small body of water, combined with the narrow street corridors through the community creates the perfect environment for the wind to whip and howl as though it’s the middle of November.  The relentless sound of the wind makes me antsy and nervous, and I have to consciously center myself and find the way towards peace and calm.

Today, however, I appreciate the wind because it brings me back to the importance of staying mindful and present in the midst of whatever storms life brings me and letting God be the source of my peace.  I have always been someone quick to worry and fear.  Only in my 30’s have I finally realized that worry and fear are my own attempts at maintaining an illusory control over things I have no control over whatsoever.  If I can think my way out of a worst-case scenario possibility, then I’ll know what to do if and when that thing ever happens.  I do offer myself grace, knowing that these coping mechanisms developed early in life in response to some very difficult circumstances.  And yet it is not God’s best for me.  In relying on my own illogical “worry-my-way-to-peace” rationale, I rob myself of the opportunity to grow in intimacy with Jesus through letting him to shoulder my burdens and walk next to me through the many things that make me afraid.

A moment ago God brought me a sweet image from early childhood:  that of lying peacefully on my father’s chest as he rested, enjoying the easy rise and fall of his breathing, listening to his steady heartbeat.  This is one of the most safe, secure memories I have as a young girl.  And with that image came this verse:

 “The beloved of the Lord rests in safety.  The High God surrounds him all day long.  The beloved rests between His shoulders.”  Deuteronomy 33:12

The things we face in this life are painful and unpredictable.  In this month alone I’ve watched a dear friend’s mother unexpectedly pass away, my own mother get screened for cancer and endure a kidney stone procedure, walked through a serious crisis with a client in my therapy practice, and feared that (as a single 36 year-old) I’ll continue facing these types of difficulties without a partner as the years pass.  I know those of you reading this are in the midst of your own challenges and pain, perhaps wondering how to find rest on God’s shoulders.  Here are a couple of things that have helped me recently on this journey:

1)    Our job is to stay in the ‘here and now’:  In Jesus’ words, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own”.  (Matthew 6:34).  By doing what we can to stay present we have more space to invite Jesus in when things fall apart.

2)    We are to practice radical trust and dependence:  Resting securely involves trust.  To really rest involves letting down our guard and believing that whomever’s in charge knows what they’re doing.  Before we can rest on God’s shoulders, we need to internalize that He is for us, and always, always has our best interest at heart.

Easier said than done, yes.  But each tiny step we make towards growing our ability to stay present and mindful, as well as risking in trust, also grows our chance to experience God as the safe harbor He is.  And I don’t know what better way to face the storms and tempests of life than by finding rest in the God of the universe.

Many blessings,

Kirsten

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8 Responses to Finding Rest

  1. Kristy says:

    “…we need to internalize that He is for us, and always, always has our best interest at heart.”

    Yup. For some reason, I had this locked down in my 20’s, but this has been the main faith struggle for me in my 30’s. I guess it’s a matter of trusting what I believe to be true, even when it just doesn’t *feel* true. Or believing that it’s truer than my feelings. Small steps in that direction…

    • fast. pray. says:

      Kristy,

      Well said. I think internalizing this truth is a life-long process, and part of it is not getting down on ourselves when feeling it doesn’t come easily. It is a strange dance, allowing ourselves to be frustrated while also choosing to trust that God DOES have good things, even if our perspective doesn’t allow us to see how those good things are taking shape.

      Thank you for your thoughts…
      Kirsten

  2. Erica C. says:

    Good stuff. I always need solid trust talk when I’m wavering in a tempest of sadness and longings that remain perpetually empty.

    My mom frequently encourages by reminding that God “has our best interest at heart.” Personally, I’m not a fan of this phrase at all. For some reason it just totally rubs me the wrong way. It somehow feels like I should acknowledge his attempt at caring, even though the efforts are coming up super short–“he’s trying.” As if I should be happy with the emptiness just as I should for a poorly chosen gift given from a well-meaning but misguided friend.

    This explanation works–in my flesh–because I often feel quite passed over and ignored. However, what I need to remember is this isn’t what scripture says at all. Christ is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. His plan is not just well meaning, it is the absolute best, for my good and the advancement of His kingdom.

    Taunting me, the empty places tell me is that he is putting me through this on purpose or because he just can’t be bothered by something as unholy as the whims of my happiness. Scripture again counters this lie and say that the Father even more so than the most awesome dads on earth knows how to give good gifts to his children. God has given some pretty awesome and costly gifts, namely: the life of his beautiful son and the presence of the Holy Spirit, our helper.

    My desire to be loved and held valuable be someone often is the louder craving than the satiation my soul has received in the perfect ransom of Christ’s blood and the promised community with the Spirit. It is work to push back on these lying feelings that God doesn’t see or doesn’t care and give some breathing room for my heart to actually respond to his extravagant grace and true care for me. And that is where I hope to be found resting more and more.

    • fast. pray. says:

      Erica,
      Thanks for your vulnerability and honesty. Your last paragraph says it so well – our human desires often are at war with God’s timing and perfect, fulfilling love. It IS work to move to where God wants to be: in trusting dependence on His grace and love in whatever circumstances we face. I think the most important thing we can do is be kind to ourselves we engage the process.

      Blessings,
      Kirsten

  3. fast. pray. says:

    Kirsten, I liked this a lot–didn’t read it until today, but that line, “To really rest involves letting down our guard and believing that whomever’s in charge knows what they’re doing” really struck me. I actually have to CHOOSE to remember that in far more circumstances than I’d like to admit. And it is a muscle–one worth exercises. I think it’s Brennan Manning whose book title is “Ruthless Trust.” Sometimes life really does take that!
    In any case, thanks for your honesty and reminder of what–of Who–is true.
    Blessings, Connally

  4. Daniela says:

    Thank you for this post Kirsten. It’s indeed easier said than done, but we really need to learn to stay in the here and now and find rest in the Lord. I love that verse in Deuteronomy 33!

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