A friend read my post yesterday and said she was concerned about me. She is a friend who has sat alongside me, as we have prayed, together, for our hearts and for the hearts of our children, over the course of over two years. Together, in My Girls, we are reading the book, The Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith (the first time we have read a book together!), and in this last week’s chapter, “God is Holy”, there is a section at the end called “soul-training.” This week’s training was margin.
My friend knows my heart, knows how anyone, whether they are introverted or extroverted, needs restoration, rest — time to slow, heal and refresh. Ironically, her loving words came in response to my trip and vacation schedule: “I am giving you permission (if that is helpful for you), or strongly & warmly encouraging you to hire a babysitter and give yourself some much needed margin and downtime to feed your soul.” She knew that, vacation or not, what I needed was time with my Father, away from activity and doing and achieving. What struck me most about my friend’s words were her use of the words “permission,” and how I so needed her to say those exact words. She said she was “giving [me] permission” to give myself “downtime to feed my soul.” And that word from her — “permission” — was her fighting for my heart, letting light break in to help set me free.
There is something in me that has such trouble seeking rest. Our vacations are filled with activity and adventure, because my husband and I do feel alive and filled with God’s pleasure for us when we are doing things our hearts love to do. Traveling and serving outside our comfort zones, hiking mountains, and exploring our Father’s astounding creation in the wild are challenges, with my Father, that make my heart leap and sing. I feel, in those situations, that I am most like myself, most stepping into my identity, in His eyes. For I love doing this. But, to my friend’s point, when trips are packed one upon another, and schedules are so full that the adventure becomes overwhelming because I don’t have space to process it all, I don’t know what I feel, what I think, how my heart is responding. I don’t know what He is trying to say to me, and I am no longer partnering with Him, my Father at my side. And the point of it all — all these adventures with Him — becomes lost on me.
I can’t achieve rest on my own.
I can’t receive His rest without intentionally choosing to be with Him.
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12)
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him” (Psalm 62:5).
“Whoever dwells in the the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11).
Our Father, fiercely loving, mighty and gentle and wise, knows what I need, how my heart breaks when I am not with Him, how I flail and fall when I think anything but Him will fill me and sustain me. I am far away from Him then, when I put myself on the throne and think I can achieve rest on my own. No vacation, no adventure, can do that. Without Him, I am exhausted and weary, no matter where I am.
And for now, I have been given permission, from My Father, through my friend, to rest. I have written about my restless churning heart before, and I see I need to return to these ponderings again. I know there are deeper places here, in my heart, that the Father wants to cleanse and renew. (Click here and here to return, with me, to some truths He wants me to remember.)
I pray that together, His girls, we can encourage each other, no matter what adventure we are in the middle of right now, that we do it with Him — that we, like our God, rest. We will be restored, then.
Nothing else we do will be worth anything if we don’t obey and let Him give us rest — essentially, when we attempt any adventure alone.
I would love to hear your thoughts here! Let’s encourage each other! How are you choosing His rest?