Rest

Rest

boy_laying_by_riverI can’t imagine life without a moment of rest to feel the warmth of the sun. A time to lay our cares down and bask in the Grace of God.






Ps. 62:1,5

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.


Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.



I was just five years old. Our family had moved into a new home in the suburbs of Omaha. We had a back yard that connected with a corn field behind us. It was June of 1959 so the wonderful summers of the Nebraska climate had just opened up their warm cozy arms to anyone who would stop long enough to feel them.

John Kindergarten - 1960


Our yard wasn’t huge but there was plenty of room for slip-n-slides, tents, and a huge Sycamore tree. My dad had put a large tractor tire behind the garage for a sand box and filled it with enough sand to enjoy. I remember one moment in particular that has remained with me all of my life.


TractorTire

It was about 8 o’clock in the morning one bright sunny day. I was sitting in the sand box and the warm morning sun had already heated up the black rubber of the tire. I was leaning back on the rim of the tire with the sun in my face. My memory wasn’t from something I had done or anything anyone else had done for that matter. It was a feeling of rest that was embracing me.  The peace was so wonderful that it was embedded into my soul forever. For that one moment in time I had not one care in the world. Life was good!


I have often thought back upon that moment as a reference point for rest. In some ways I can measure restfulness by how I felt that special morning.


I have found many scriptures on rest. Far too many to quote them all here but I have selected some that might speak to your own need for rest. I find it very interesting that the Lord has given us so many passages that will point us to rest when we need it most.


Ex. 35:1-3

Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the LORD has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.”


From the words of the Lord to Moses it appears that God is very much as interested in our rest as He is our work.  It seems we often feel the need to prove something to ourselves, to others, or maybe even to God through our work.


In all of our performance, God is commanding us to rest. Our idols in life often involve work, energy consumption or busyness. Is there a temptation to fear that if we rest God may not be pleased with us? Do we fear slothfulness? Maybe so for some, but His word reminds us that we can rest secure in His presence.


Ps. 16:8-10

I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.


Do you ever have dreams that you can fly? I have had many dreams where I can soar above the ground with just a push of my feet. The feeling of freely flying is so amazing. There is such a relief in being untethered to the ground. True rest is like that. When I think back to the warm tractor tire I felt free, unburdened by life, almost like my dreams of flying. A warm smile comes to my face from the peace in my soul.


Ps. 55:5-7

Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest- I would flee far away and stay in the desert.


Or maybe our greater fears are of being devoured by life trials and pain. Our work life is going ok, maybe even our relationships are pretty good, but there is a pain inside of us that seems to plague us. Is there rest from the seemingly chronic pain of this life? Physical pain, emotional pain, or the overwhelming pain of living in an imperfect world may seem to weigh us down every day.


I think God was providing me with a special memory of His rest because He knew I was going to enter into a tumultuous family experience soon. My family was about to disintegrate into adultery, divorce, molestation, and other confusion. I needed to know there was a place of rest that I could go to and my loving God was preparing the way. What I didn’t know was how God was going to draw me back to the sand box as a tool for deeper healing prayer later in life.


Ps. 91:1-3

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.


It isn’t any wonder that my life verse is Psalm 116. It starts out with, “I love the Lord because He heard my voice…..” I really needed to know someone was listening as I cried out for help. The excerpt here from Psalm 116 reminds me all of the time that there is rest in God’s goodness for me that I can call upon when I need it.


in Jesus arms

Ps. 116:6-9

The LORD protects the simple hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.




As a child I really didn’t know to go to the Lord for rest or to find peace from the surrounding turmoil in my life. When I became an adult the trials of life were mostly from my own wrong decisions I finally was introduced to a God who would love me unconditionally. I found a Savior that was on my side, Jesus that would never condemn me and the Holy Spirit who was my greatest cheerleader. In a new relationship with the Lord Almighty, I found a God who would bring me peace, He provided rest for my soul.


Matt. 11:-28-29

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.


serenity


My very first heartfelt prayer to Him was out of intense anguish. I was in an extremely painful relationship situation and I just couldn’t find a way out of what I was feeling. I had just recently learned the Serenity Prayer and thought I’d give it a try. God… Grant me the serenity to accept….. and before long I found relief, I found rest in a very personal way. It was that day that God proved to me He cared about what I was going through. He gave me a new reference point for rest.




God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

(Although known most widely in its abbreviated form above, the entire prayer reads as follows…)

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;


Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world

as it is, not as I would have it;


Trusting that He will make all things right

if I surrender to His Will;


That I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy with Him

Forever in the next.

Amen.


Heb. 4:1-2

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.


There is no rest without Faith. No serenity without Belief in the One who provides Peace. No good news without the Savior.


I believe the most succinct way to put it is in the Psalms.


Ps. 46:10

Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything. (Message)


Cease striving and know that I am God. (NAS)


Be still, and know that I am God. (NIV)



cat asleepOnce we understand the rest from our attempts to prove our worthiness through our own efforts, we can then learn how to rest from the turmoil around us.


He is our peace -  Jehovah Shalom.


Be at rest, oh my soul.




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5 Responses to “Rest”

  1. Peg Ramsay says:

    Enjoyed the article John. In the midst of our transition I am soooo fidgety! The Lord is speaking, “REST” in the midst of the seeking, “Be at Rest”. Thanks for the pics of you as well! ha Joy to you and Vileen in the midst.

  2. Wendy Moroz says:

    I love this blog John. Isn’t it great how God is all-knowing, and He prepares us for those rough places before we even experience them? Reading this reminds me again of how attentive and loving God is to our needs! He knew the horrific experiences you would be walking through. Although you didn’t know it at the time, the warmth and the peace you felt was Jesus. How awesome that He gave you such a lovely, restful memory to remind you of Him!

  3. John Smid says:

    Email response

    Hi John,
    I have read all of your devotionals, but I found this one most comforting. Thanks for forwarding it. SF

  4. cliff says:

    Hello John,
    There was I searching the scriptures in order to give some thoughts to a group of rough-sleepers in our church tomorrow evening. I had something in mind about the yoke and rest of Matthew 11. I started looking for some images online and one image brought me to your meditation. It is brilliant. Thank you so much. I am so excited about it for myself, but would you mind if I share it with the group in church on Sunday evening? I would use it as it is, as a powerpoint or something like that. It’s Easter Sunday and very appropriate for those less fortunate, the homeless and rough sleepers in my city. Regards,
    Cliff

  5. John Smid says:

    I love this article. It brings much peace and contentment which brings joy and laughter, even when times are hard and there is turmoil.
    I especially love the pictures. The picture of you at the beginning and the picture of the kitty on the keyboard, sooooo sweet.
    VMS

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