Since the calendar turned another page, there was a short season of time when our days slowed down. We created new rhythms again, as a family of four. We settled into those cold, rainy days that winter blew in, and have been filled with so much excitement as we’ve watched the cold of winter be met with the warm, budding signs of spring.
I’ve finally been able to come up for air it feels, and for the first time in six months I’ve actually been able to sleep, through the whole night. It’s amazing how much differently I operate throughout the day when I’ve been able to rest.
Rest does that, allows us to operate.
When we rang in this new year, I felt an urgent and weighty invitation from Father, that He was calling me into a season of rest. I made my lists and goals for the year and quickly felt Him, put His hand over them, tilting my chin upward with His finger to catch His gaze.
“Take my hand, baby girl, let me teach you what it means to rest.”
So I agreed and slipped my fingers right in between His.
I taught first graders for seven years. My master’s is in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Literacy. So I started asking Father to let me take a peek at the unit guide. And like a great teacher does, He first gave me the pre-assessment.
And I failed big time...I started making a list of ways I could rest.
When Father started asking me about rest, I realized I barely knew what that meant. Rest to me looked like sitting on the couch for a minute, or sleeping straight through the night. I didn’t know the true meaning rest and certainly didn’t know how to operate out of a place of rest.
But He started teaching me. Because He's such a good Dad.
First, it looked like sitting on the couch drinking my whole cup of coffee without heating it up. I know, It seems like such a simple thing. But I couldn’t remember the last time I had finished a whole cup of coffee. Obviously some mornings this wasn’t possible, but I felt Him calling me to retreat from the list of projects and things that should get done that day, if even for a few moments.
I realized that I had been believing the lie that giving myself space to rest was me being lazy. When in fact, if I want to be able to pour out, I have to be full. And real rest makes us full. Stopping to rest, to give my soul space to breathe when I needed it, was me essentially loving others well too.
Pretty soon, I began to feel my children tugging on my shirt, tapping my arm, sometimes screaming at me, as toddlers do, “Mommy!” And instead of continuing to wash dishes, make supper, finish that email, or continue to do the thing that was buying my time, I felt Him whisper to me, “Look into her sweet eyes, listen intently to what she had to say. She’s worth your pause.”
Slowing down, loving the one right in front of me.
Right in the middle of this new discovery, learning truly what rest was, I had to make an urgent trip to the emergency room. There were several days that I literally had to lay in the bed. I knew how to do that kind of rest, or so I thought. But what He showed me was that rest is more of a heart posture. I could be laying in bed “resting,” yet my heart and mind could be full of chaos.
I looked up the definition of rest and Webster’s says that rest is “to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.”
In Psalm 23:1-3 David writes, “The Lord is my best friend and shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.”
That word restores in Hebrew is “shuwb.” It actually means to retreat, to turn back, return to the starting point. If to rest means to retreat or to go back to the start, it means something has been lost along the way. I’m learning that like with anything in the Kingdom, rest is a paradox. Sometimes it takes a little work to rest. Rest is something I actually have to do.
The Passion Translation study notes under Psalm 23 reads, “the Greek word for love is “agape,” which is a merging of two words and two concepts. “Ago” means to lead like a shepherd, and “pao” is a verb that means to rest. Love is our Shepherd leading us to a place of true rest in His heart.”
He is rest.
He wants us to operate out of a place of rest, because it envelopes who He is. When we position ourselves in a posture of rest, we are ultimately operating out of His heart.
The other definition of rest, according to Webster's, is “be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.”
Rest positions us.
Rest positions my heart to receive from Him. It positions me to be a vessel that doesn’t fill up only to pour out. This cycle would constantly be stopping and starting, at some point along the way I would find myself empty again. But when I position my heart in a posture of rest, I rather minister and love those around me out of the overflow of love the Father is pouring in. The beauty of this posture is that I am never empty, always full of Him.
I’ve spent most of my life striving, wondering if I’m doing enough or succeeding enough in certain areas of my life. Now, I am more “busy” than I have ever been before. I carry more responsibility than ever. And this season I find myself in, is more full than life has ever been. Yet, every morning before my feet hit the ground, I ask Father, “What is important to You today?”
And I position myself in a posture to not give away, but to simply receive.
“Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.” Ephesians 3:17