My summer has not been as restful as I was anticipating. I had visions and dreams of sitting in my oversized camp chair underneath our giant cottonwood tree. I would have a diet coke in the cup holder if afternoon or my silver coffee travel mug with a patchwork caribou painted on the side if it was morning. The children would swing and play on and be grateful for the brand new playset their father worked for two days straight on to construct. The baby would gently fall asleep in the swing. The older kiddos gently pushing him back and forth. The oldest would coordinate games and diffuse any conflict that arose between siblings. All while I read every book I had in my amazon cart and kept the house immaculate, had wonderful joy filled play time with each of my children every day, lunch to my husband in the field, and devotions and supper each evening with the fresh summer breeze blowing in our patio door. I promise you I was not on drugs at the end of the school year. This was not a drug induced fantasy even though it sounds like it to any one who has had 4 kids 7 and under in their home during the summer. However I was/am exhausted. I ran and ran this school year and had a baby.
Our summer has not been as described above. It has been wonderful but it has not been meeting my expectations of how much rest I and my kids would be getting. Mostly how much rest I was getting. My expectations were pushed to the way side because I also had other expectation like how much we were going to enjoy and relish in summer. I had and I am sure still have in my head a running checklist of all the things we must do to receive proper rest this summer. Ways to parent so that the kids didn’t fight and I can rest. Meals to make so that my body can rest and rejuvenate, things to do with kids so my guilt and emotions can rest. In my sinful messed up head I have to control every aspect of my life so that I can rest, or at least control the ones that seemed to be important that day, hour, or minute. Did you catch that?…I had a list in my head of all the things TO DO to get myself adequate rest… Sounds ridiculous but I did. And I do. Isn’t constantly doing the opposite of rest? Isn’t having a list of things done or to do to feel good about myself, to prove my worth, to prove that I deserved rest, the opposite of the rest that Christ has promised?
I look for rest in the strangest places. When I attempt to work to achieve rest it always ends up in disaster. That does not mean that I never experience rest. And on a side note I need to explain that I do not believe life will ever be fully restful this side of heaven. We live in a fallen world. Heaven is where real rest is found. But I am getting a head of myself. Don’t want to give out the goods too early. I also need to add that work can be restful. Sounds contrary to logic but work can be restful. I’m not sure exaxtly how to articulate it but I will do my best with scripture and a from my life illustration.
I know I need rest. I can feel it in my body, my brain is fatigued, my muscles are fatigued, my soul is fatigued, and my emotions are drained. I just get confused about where rest is found. Or who produces the rest. Like I said before I think I have to get numbers 1-25 done on my check list before proper rest can occur, genuine rest.
Then I get a gentle reminder or I fight with God long enough and I am forced to rest. One huge illustration to me was a daily battle I have with my daughter. Naptime. Naptime in our home is one of the things on the checklist that I believe I must have. If the kids don’t nap I become a raging beast of a mother. And all summer they have not been able to coordinate naps. (And obviously my 7 year old does not nap).
My daughter is a very beautiful and strong willed little woman. Our daily nap time struggle really illustrate my battle with God in my life and even held a level of conviction. I realized it walking up the stairs attempting to get her to rest for what felt like the 100th time that afternoon. It really came to life for me when I said. “I just don’t understand this” If someone told me to go take a nap I would jump at the chance”. “If someone told me I could rest, If someone asked me to take a nap I would in a heartbeat.” “But I have to many things that must get done before I can rest.”
And that is when it hit me. This is the same struggle I have with my savior on a daily basis. I am constantly asking him to give me more time, more energy, more space in my day, more ability. And what he wants to give me is more rest. More peace. More assurance. I have a savior who wants me to rest everyday. He has given me and equipped me for where he has placed me.
Matthew 11:28-30 is a verse that is frequently quoted. “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Later is chapter 12 Jesus says “the Son of Man is the lord of the Sabbath.”
Finding rest was a law that I was trying to keep all on my own. Apart from God. I forget over and over again that God has lived the perfect life, became all my sin on the cross, died, rose again. I always want to get my foot in, dip my fingers in so I can show all that I have done. I always want to be my own savior. I forget that Jesus kept the law perfectly. I forget that his righteousness is now mine because I am clothed with him. I’m not clothed because of my own merit but I am clothed because he has clothed me.
Christ fulfilled all of the law for me. He has perfectly kept the Sabbath so that I can experience rest. Perhaps glimpses of rest here on earth and anticipate a beautiful uncomprehend able rest in our heavenly home. He has perfectly kept the Sabbath so that I can have glimpses of rest in work, and in play, and in trial and tribulation. Not because I have done something to make my faith so big and great. I don’t even have the faith of a mustard seed. If I did I could move mountains. But because of Him. I am loved and I am able to rest because I am loved in spite of myself.
Psalm 23 really illustrates rest when I think about it in the light that Christ has accomplished it all on the cross. Rest comes because of Christ not because the sheep have accomplished their duties for the day.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want
He makes me lie down in green pastures (he gives me rest, he has accomplished rest)
He leads me besides still waters.
He restores my soul
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake
Even though I work myself into a state of exhaustion, even though death is at our doorstep because of the trouble we face and the work we put ourselves through
We do not need to fear evil.
for You are with me
your rod and staff they comfort me (you have accomplished it all on the cross)
You prepare a table for me in heaven where I will experience eternal rest
You anoint my head with oil my cup overflows
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Hebrews 4:9-10 “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”