Teaching From Rest

“Rest begins with acceptance, with surrender.” — Sarah Mackenzie, Teaching from Rest

I started this book after Christmas (when I finally found it, in the bottom of an Amazon box, in my Santa’s-workshop-of-a-bedroom.) I’d had it in my cart for months, debating over whether or not it was worth the full price. Sometimes it’s those $12 splurges that are the hardest! But I finally took the plunge. Something — Someone — told me I really should read it.

Only about 20 pages in, and I was already just on overload. Maybe you’re scrambling to order it now, and will find that those 20 pages hold nothing that special — I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just what I needed to hear and ponder and repent of.

This issue of rest. Of peace. Of unclenching my teeth.

This issue of lordship.

That is, after all, what it boils down to. My obsession with squeezing every last bit out of every last minute, of making sure those moments go the way I “need” them to go, of freaking out when something comes up that is going to take those moments away from me — who am I serving? Certainly I have forgotten that I don’t own minutes, I don’t make minutes, I don’t get to claim minutes. They belong to Him. And I am His servant. He can set a list before me in the morning and then, halfway through, ask me to switch gears and serve a naughty toddler, a discouraged son, a hungry husband. He’s allowed to do that because it’s all His.

As I was mulling these things over, I overheard Ryan ask one of the boys for a double AA battery. If you have little boys, you know those are the most precious possessions. And my son responded that way. There was a moment of panic and freak-out, and Ryan just said, “Really? Who bought those batteries for you? Don’t you know I can get you more when you need them?”

And I saw myself so perfectly in that interaction. I heard so loud and clear: “Really? Who gave you this breath, this life, these 24 hours? Don’t you know I can give you all the moments you need?”

In Matthew 25, the Master hands out talents to his servants, a familiar story. But when I read it this time, I saw, “The master gave to his slaves of his own possessions.” It’s all His, and stewardship, therefore, looks like serving His desires with my time and energies.

*****

God isn’t after success, He’s interested in faithfulness — another nugget that illuminated a whole train of thought and conviction.

Certainly I know that. But in my efforts to be faithful, I’ve begun to define what that looks like and then judge my success at faithfulness (rarely do I give myself a good grade, as I’m sure you can imagine.)

And so in yet another paradoxical moment of following Jesus, I’m realizing afresh that repenting of idolizing productivity and giving my heart completely to His rule and reign is the road to (surprise, surprise) freedom! Because any number of things can hijack a moment, hour, day and prevent me from a “successful” end. But nothing, literally nothing, can steal my ability to be faithful in any given moment and circumstance. Jesus sets us free to win. We win! I cannot lose when I realize He’s asking me to respond by the Spirit, not hit a certain goal.

Take “my” moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise…

See? Even there! “Ceaseless praise” is not an end goal of success. It is defining my every moment! Success can be thwarted at every turn, but faithful, ceaseless praise—nothing can thwart that!

*****

So I recommend this book, but mostly, I’ll just encourage you to know that God is always pursuing us. He doesn’t leave us half broken. He’s a Redeemer. He’s a master Potter. The cracks and weaknesses and foibles that I am (or am not!) painfully aware of — He addresses those. I just yield to Him and follow Him on this path of sanctification, and find Him faithful. There is not much I find more comforting than to find myself in His hands again, being kneaded and shaped, knowing that He loves me completely and hasn’t forgotten me, and He has a vision of me being spotless and without wrinkle.

saturday morning

from my journal…

Saturday morning: We had two days of a full house of family, for Thanksgiving and then for games and leftovers. Children all around, playing pool and ping pong and piano, in dress up worlds of Cinderella and tea parties. Aunts and uncles, siblings and in-laws, parents and grandparents, friends — so many clusters of conversation and dishwashing and laughter. And the semi-composed house I greet this morning, looking none the worse for the wear (thanks to Ryan and my parents and bustling aunts!), but rather, seeming to glow with the lingering joy of a home used and lived in. This is a house at its best — with chairs askew and coffee flowing, candles lit on every extended table.

There is so much insight to be found here — glimpses of how we were made, what we were made for.

Today we will pause to rest — Daddy called for PJs and movies! But even in this resting, we are launched into the biggest celebration of all: Jesus was born for us!

*****

So much to be thankful for, truly, but having Jack with us rated pretty high up there.

take them by the hand

Hi!

Another whole month has slipped by. I thought of doing a photo dump, and then realized a month of photos gets a tad long.

(Lunch gets a tad long sometimes, too.)

There are lots of pictures over at flickr. Click through for a glimpse of the month:


*****


“Take them by the hand…”

In the busyness of a day with four children, all of whom need different kinds of training and teaching and attention, and all done all together all day long (which requires a house keeping plan I have yet to quite master), this little phrase grabs me.

I write the plan and herd them along with the best of intentions: to nurture their talents and expand their minds and plant the Word of God deep in their hearts — but the leadership model shown by Jesus was not a “come on, hurry up, slow pokes,” sort of model. No, we’re to come alongside and walk with these young disciples.

And yes, that’s a nice concept and philosophy, but often I find I need to literally obey this verse. Take them by the hand. Not just the wobbly toddler who needs help down the stairs. That nearly-independent 8yo boy, too. The quiet 6yo who doesn’t seem to really need much. Go out of my way to take them by the hand. Invite them to sit in arm’s crook during read-aloud. Give those shoulders a hug while issuing next instruction. Hold their hand in the parking lot, and squeeze it twice (our special “I love you” code.)

The confrontation of sin and shortcomings can seem continual. How much easier the walk through confession and repentance when led by the hand.

living truth

Carolyn Mahaney writes:

But we must not succumb to despair or low-grade guilt [over our failures]. This maligns the gospel and does not produce the fruit of repentance or serve our children. Rather we must return to Scripture. We must remind ourselves of the truth that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness, that He is busy conforming us to the image of His Son, and that He works all things (even our mothering failures!) for our good and the good of our children.

I have been thinking much about living a gospel that is consistent with what I preach. A conviction to preach with my life—transmitting faith by how I actually believe, by what I actually lean the weight of my life upon. A heavenly Father who sees, provides, and is enough and so much more; a Healer who hears, cares, and touches; a Savior who takes stone and gives flesh, delivers from dark into light and freedom; a Helper whose constant presence brings joy and hope in and above every circumstance. This is who I believe God to be on paper. And it’s who I want my children to know! And so, my life… Oh, God, let my daily, moment by moment love for You paint a picture that is real, powerful, and faithful to the testimony of my lips and of Your word.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! How blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.”

More than words. May my decisions—what I will say, how I will feel, what I will do—point to Jesus. A big Jesus. A glorious Jesus.