Tag Archives: rest

Don’t Postpone Joy

Martha had enough. Her sister Mary did it again, left her to do all the work while she just sat there. Martha was distracted by all the preparations. And though the very source of Joy was with her, she was focused on what she had to do.

Sound familiar?

“But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

But how can life really be about one thing? Without Martha, no food would have been served.

On a slow morning, sitting on a dock facing the intracoastal waterway in Wilmington, NC, I’m once again pondering how to be a Mary without neglecting my responsibilities.

The mid-morning sun warms the steady breeze as it massages my face. I look across the gray blue waterway and see white caps ushering the tide to my right. The rhythmic waves lap upon the shore only interrupted by the rubbing of the floating docks along the pile driven wooden poles, the squawking of sea birds and the distant sound of a dog’s bark.

I have sought my own answers to this quandary for years, but this morning it all seems clear. No profound answers are given, only His strong hand outstretched; inviting me to give Him my concerns, so I can be with Him. Together, He will show me how to live a Mary life in a Martha world.

My cares are safely sealed, waiting for His commands to be revealed.

Two light yellow butterflies dart across the rolling tide. Above the water flow, there is a lime green strip of land below a line of emerald trees, couching white, multi-storied buildings in the distance. Above the tree line, a cloudless sky rises in deeper shades of pastel blue towards the heavens.

Wow! This is joy, this trusting, this resting, this enjoying His presence. Is this abiding? Is this what Jesus means when He tells me to remain in His love?

So, what now? I could regret millions of distracted moments in my past when I labored without a thought of His nearness.

But I won’t.

I will go forth with a deeper understanding of what Jesus means when he tells me not to worry, but to seek His business, His Kingdom, His supremacy in my life.

All that other stuff, the things I seem to focus on, what I’ll eat and what I’ll wear and what I’ll drink – He’s got that. He and I  have more important things to do, like enjoying this moment together.

And by the way, when I am doing that (Enjoying moments of life with Him) I will naturally love the people I meet along the way. When, like Mary, I’m in tune with my Lord’s nearness, when I’m yielding to His Indwelling Spirit, His love flows through me to others. My number one concern now is to love others as He has loved me. This  starts with resting in His love.

Jesus said, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”

“Love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others.” John Piper

In His Presence is fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11)

Resting at Work

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (Mathew 11:28)

 True rest can happen even in the midst of work.

Have you ever noticed that the same workload can seem easy one day and insurmountably overwhelming the next? A few days ago, work seemed effortless, as I cruised along in the Rivers of Living Water, experiencing the joy of the Lord’s nearness. However, only a day later, I  trudged through a dry dusty riverbed, pulling an overloaded donkey cart of work.

What happened?

As is my plan, when I noticed the shift in my heart, I reached for the  truth of God’s word. This time I turned to  Matthew 11:28. As I read, I knew the Lord was talking to me. I felt weary and heavy-laden, fatigued and over-burdened.

Come to Me, I read

But I’m already with you, I thought. You’re in me and I’m in You.[1] [2]  You hold the universe together.[3] There must be more to it.

Digging in, I discovered that the Greek word for “come” means “come hither” or “come this way”.

Jesus is always with me, but here He is asking me for a deeper “withness”. I thought of being with people in an elevator. They are with me, but unless we engage, there’s no connection.

Conversely, one of my earliest memories was  walking with my great grandmother. She held my hand and  guided me around a swimming pool. Being with her was not an option. I would have been in danger without her.

This is the level of “withness” Jesus is asking of me. When I comply, the rest comes. In my backward thinking,  rest only  comes when all the work is done. Which is never, because there’s always something else to do.

The rest Jesus is offering happens even in the midst of  work, a byproduct of  heeding His call to “come this way”.

Rest – take ease, refresh, refrain, come to an end.  My striving, my focus on work, needs to end.

My dutiful, weary day happened not because of the amount of work, but because work had become my focus. I knew Christ is my life, but I was living as if work was my life.

Being with Jesus is rest. Taking His yoke upon me is literally giving Him my burdens. In His yoke, my burden becomes His. The weightiest task feels light when I’m following Him. “For My yoke is easy and My load is light.” (Matthew 28:30)

Lord, I’m sorry I became so focused on work. You are my Life. Please keep me ever aware of your nearness and strength that I might continually be attentive to your leading.

Challenge: Is there an area of your life where you feel weary and over-burdened? If so, lean in close to Jesus so that He can say ‘come this way.’ His way will be light and powerfully effective. Handling the burdens on your own is not only wearisome, but completely ineffective.

 

[1] Galatians 2:20

[2] Ephesians 2:4-6

[3] Colossians 1:17

Remain in My Love

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9)

I feel it happening again – the temptation to take charge and handle the challenge myself. I try to trust God, but it seems to be ‘all up to me’; a familiar lie. The internal pressure is mounting. I’m compelled to think I must uphold and maintain God’s love for me and the infusion of His strength. I feel the vulnerability of moving out from under the wings of His love into independent striving for achievement and approval.

Knowing I need truth, I turn to John 15. Here, Christ repeatedly tells me to abide in him and in his love. But how?

Digging into the word abide, I learn it also means to tarry, to dwell, be present with, to remain. I’m to remain in God’s Love. Jesus tells me that He loves me just as much as His Father loves Him. I want to believe this, but I struggle.

Remain. To remain somewhere means I have to be there to begin with. If I’m told to remain in a house, I have to already be in the house to stay there. I remember I Corinthians 1:30 where Paul says that because of God, I’m in Christ Jesus. He also says that it is by grace I have been saved, through faith; not a matter of my own works.[1]

It is Finished

God put me in Christ Jesus, not my own striving or achieving. When Christ said, “It is finished” on the cross, he finished all work needed to earn God’s pleasure. I don’t have to do a thing to be in his love. By believing, I’m already in the dwelling of Christ’s love. I’m to stay where God has put me.

This is extremely freeing.

Remain in Christ’s love. Don’t move.

Back in John 15, I read I’m like a branch of grapes. Connected to the vine, my source, God grows delicious fruit for others to enjoy. When He produces the fruit and others benefit, He gets the glory and I’m filled with His joy. It’s the only way it can work. A branch detached from the vine can yield nothing.

So, what is my work? After all, Jesus commands me to abide. My work is to stay where God has placed me, in the love of Christ. I’m to rest and yield to His life in me, fighting every lie with the truth of His amazing love.

Lord, I’m guilty of doubting your love, of thinking I have to achieve something for you to be pleased with me. Now I see how absurd this really is. Not only are my independent efforts worth nothing, but they produce the plastic fruits of self-glory.  I’m so sorry. Please keep me ever aware of your great love for me. Teach me how to remain where you have put me, in your surpassing love.  Amen. 

 

[1] Ephesians 2:8-9