Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blessed Peace and Rest

In the past few weeks, I have had some rough moments. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that emotionally and spiritually, I have felt down. In times like these, I cling to what I know and not to what I feel. Yet, it can be frustrating when you are waiting for your feelings to catch up to your faith.

I’ve had some of my dear friends say prayers over me recently, and each time I felt a renewed sense of peace. One of the many things that I often struggle with is just the personal pressure I unnecessarily put on myself (and my fears of letting others down if I don’t come through for people). Though, as I heard recently during the church service before my friend Jama’s baptism, we are human BEINGS and not human DOINGS. The preacher is absolutely right in that he was saying that we get so caught up in the daily grind of “doing” that we forget how to just “be”. That is one message that I constantly need reminded of! It brings to mind a verse that was shared with me years ago about how we “do and do” and refuse rest. It’s in Isaiah 28:12-13: to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (NIV)

It’s not that our “doings” are bad things. After all, we do have responsibilities as well as serving opportunities. What it all comes down to is that “b” word (that I always find hard to define) which is “balance.” And, as the pastor pointed out, God CHOSE to rest on the seventh day. We must also choose to rest, to recharge, to remember to “be still and know” (Psalm 46:10). Otherwise, we will wear ourselves out and be just like those in that last verse. Overdoing it can definitely cause us to fall backward (rather, backslide) get us injured, snared, and captured (by the enemy). Think about it.

In connection with the “pressure” that I put on myself is usually an accompanying worry and/or condemnation. Of course, I truly know better than that because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1) but nonetheless, I still get attacked with it from time to time. Satan would love nothing more than to try to enslave me back into a shell of low self-worth and self-loathing. However, that’s what prayer is for! My sweet prayer sister and mentor, Kim, asked God to affirm to me what HE thinks of me. In my mind, the phrase was: “I think: I love you.” The response I felt was, “So what am I so afraid of?” (to the tune of that all familiar song by David Cassidy).

That moment wasn’t about the song, but about the concept. Though, remembering the tune is what keeps me singing it back to God any time I start to forget these two key verses:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. - Romans 8:15 (KJV).

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. - 1 John 4:18 (KJV)

Do you know what God thinks of me (and you)? His first thought is “I love you.” If He loves us, why do we fear? That’s what I keep asking myself. As a daughter of the King, I am perfected in love. Grace doesn’t enslave me to fear, it’s what sets me free (Galatians 5:1)! My heavenly Father does not (and will not) condemn me and NOTHING can ever separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39)!

Furthermore, I needn’t try so hard and be “doing and doing“ all the time. The Holy Spirit will do His job and I will be content with whatever role I have. As my brother in Christ prayed for me recently, I felt the Holy Spirit assure me that He does want me. The one thing He said was that I am overcompensating. Often, I go beyond where the Holy Spirit wants to go. The perfect example is of how Mary had Jesus work a miracle before it was time. He even told her that His time had not yet come (in other words, she was rushing Him) but out of love and honor for His mother, He turned the water into wine (John 2:1-11).

I know that I sometimes do too much (and say too much). No doubt most of it is probably good things, but I know that it takes away from what the Holy Spirit wants to do (if I try to do too much of His job or rush His timing). I don’t want to slow down or jump-start whatever process He has in mind by being too eager or impatient. I don’t want to limit Him or others by taking away from it all by being over-involved. All the more reason to remember to “rest” and “be” and to “wait” on the Lord. And if it takes a mild illness (such as I have been battling the last few days) to remind me of that, then it’s been worth it!!

This isn’t the first time I have learned this “lesson” but it seems like it takes repetition of a concept (and often in various forms) before something truly becomes cemented into your heart. I hope that I don’t have to learn it too many more times. ;) I hope that as I think on this more and more, I will become better at being concise with my words and actions and that I will no longer be one who “overcompensates.”

May the grace and peace of our heavenly Father be with you!! God bless you!!


Shane Gilreath said...

I suspect like you, I either over do or under do, even in fellowship, and I can't seem to find that balance. I'm not one that believes we must be in church every time the doors are open, even though I have bene the person who was there every time the door was open, but there is something, I admit, that just comforts me about being in church. I've been pretty lax in that regard lately. High in faith, low in everything else.

Melissa said...

Right. You don't HAVE to go to church to be a Christian, but I don't know why anyone wouldn't want to. You can't really function as the body of Christ if you don't have unity and fellowship with the other parts. We are created for fellowship. It's awful lonely if you don't have a church family to back you up. Solomon said that woe to the man who falls and has no one to help him up.

So, in whatever area you're "low" in, as a sister I'm here to lift you up! :)