Finding Rest

We spend our lives hanging our hopes and dreams of true happiness on the hat of achievement or success while its fulfillment is fleeting.  We tend to tell ourselves that ‘we’ll be really happy when’…

…we reach a certain pay grade

…we find the perfect match

…we have x number of children

…we buy a larger home

…we retire

…we travel the world

….While these are lofty and worthwhile goals and dreams, we will never be satisfied or at rest in these alone.

…or what about  – we’ll be really happy when…this storm passes or I am healthy again?

THEN, I will be happy and my soul will be at rest!

What if true rest is found in surrender?

What if the peace we seek is found in the person of Jesus Christ?  I submit to you that it is only then that the searching, the seeking, the striving … is fulfilled and complete.

All too often our focus goes askew.  We lose sight of the fact that He is the Potter and we are the clay.  Does the clay tell the Potter what to make?  No.  Never.  Sometimes our lives segue into unchartered waters and we fear we may drown.  It’s during those times, especially, that our focus must be redirected on the One who has all power in His hands.  That doesn’t always mean the storm will be averted or our path will miraculously veer around the storm.  It does, however, mean that God is there no matter the circumstances.  He is our Peace in troubled times.  No matter the situation, we can find rest.

Each of our journeys are unique.  We each run a different race, face particular battles, etc. But we are all created by the same God who made us to only find true peace and satisfaction in a personal relationship with Him.

We live in anxious times, no matter your geographic location.  We just do.  For all the academic achievements of mankind, sometimes we can be too prideful to realize our full dependence on an Almighty God.  For all our intellectual ability and strivings, we remain completely lacking in every way.  It is when we realize this, that we have begun to live.  Really live.  Life is so complex.  Happiness can seem elusive if we continue looking in all the wrong directions.  It is, however, completely attainable when we wholeheartedly surrender to God and know that no matter what we may be going through, He is there with us.  He promises to never leave us or forsake us.  In that, our future is secure and peace is attainable.

Rest today, friend, knowing that your circumstances do not somehow escape the watchful eye of an All-Knowing God.  He sees.  He knows.  He cares.  Rest.

“Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  

~ Matthew 11:28

 

Steeping Tea Bags

Standing over a pan of boiling water with tea bags steeping caused me to reflect on the process for a moment this morning. You see, I love iced tea.  And, tea making is important, friends.  Of late, my iced tea has been on the weak side, which led to my wandering thoughts.  Sometimes I lack the patience to wait for the water to come to a full boil before removing the pan from the burner so I can move onto the next task.  It is, however, this bit of patience that is required in order to allow the flavor to be released by the extremely hot temperature.

It was inspirational really…

The Lord dropped this thought into my mind – Without boiling water, the tea is flavorless and has no character.  It is severely lacking.  In other words, our lives are like the tea bags and the boiling water represents the storms of life.  Without the storms, our lives lack character and growth.  They never quite reach their full potential and are stymied as to reaching their rich flavor.

None of us like the boiling water or the storms of life, but it is during this process that maturing takes place.

Tea anyone?

Joy in the Storm

A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough.”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to praise and worship music.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and into our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we face, God is bigger.

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned in our lives?

What if, even through the storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

What if you are going through a trial and it’s not even about you but to help somebody else?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life in amazing ways.

Rinse.  Repeat.

A New Look at Psalm 23

Psalm 23 has long been a favorite passage of mine.  It calms my restless soul and brings me peace.  As I was reading it this morning, the Lord dropped this question in my spirit, “Is it possible to lie down in green pastures and be led by the still waters while walking through the valley of the shadow of death?”

I’ve read this chapter a million times or so it would seem, but I’ve always distinguished these being two separate seasons in life.  Sometimes we are at peace and God is restoring our very souls and leading us in the right paths; and others, we are suffering through a dark valley.

This question from the Lord challenged my theology, though.  What if it were possible to experience deep peace despite being in the valley of the shadow of death?  Is it?

As the chapter moves on, it says:

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The entire chapter of Psalm 23 speaks of God’s presence being with us throughout our lives and the hope of heaven we have as Christians.

I don’t believe that the storms of life are indicative of God’s presence being lifted somehow from our lives.  And if He remains with us throughout the seasons of life, it stands to reason that His peace, which is a fruit of the Spirit, is also with us.

So, back to the question at hand…

Is it possible to lie down in green pastures, be led by the still waters and our very souls to be restored concurrently while we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death?

I believe the answer is a resounding yes.  Even in our darkest hours when it would appear all hope is gone, there is a peace, which comes from God Almighty, that can undergird our souls.

Lying down in these green pastures sounds so lush and refreshing, doesn’t it?  I can just picture these pastures by a huge lake on a spring day with butterflies flying around and the sun shining so brightly as it beams off the beautiful, blue water.   A slight breeze is in the air making it neither too hot nor too cold.  A perfect day.

Being led by the still waters speaks to nothing causing our souls to grieve, no anxiety.  Just stillness.  A supernatural calm.  How many of us could use some still waters today?

This peace, this stillness is available to all of us through Jesus Christ.  If we draw close to God, He promises to draw close to us.  He is as close as the mere mention of His Great Name.  We can experience this peace as we study God’s Word and spend time in prayer.

I do believe our souls can find rest even when the storms of life rage and threaten to capsize our vessel.  Jesus is our anchor.

Psalm 23 begins: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.”

In Him lies everything we need.  May we all find peace for our restless souls and hope for the journey in God.  And may we receive restoration and comfort as we are being led in paths of righteousness.

I encourage you to read this short chapter today and see how God speaks to you.  The Bible is unlike any other book; it is a living book.  It is one with God and it is how God speaks to us.  To truly know the heart of God, we must study it and apply it to our own lives.  

Blessings, my friend!

~Amber