Do you feel the uncomfortableness of this moment? The tension of feeling stuck and unproductive and trapped at home? The COVID virus is teaching us something very important about ourselves -- we are restless. We are aching to be important. To have things to do. To be productive and have something to show for it… whether it’s work done, creativity explored or time spent in a meaningful way.
We are a people running as hard as we can from simply being.
Do you feel it too? The internal struggle to bring something meaningful to the table? To show how well you’re utilizing all the space God’s giving you in this time? The need to spend this time the “right way,” with the “right attitude” and the “right behavior.” There is this cultural pressure, and we are all living under it.
How have God’s people become so infiltrated with the ways of the earth, rather than the ways of the Gospel, the ways of God? Why do we resist being? Where does this deep need to perform, achieve, and strive come from? For each of us, it stems from a different place. Oftentimes, we as God’s people proclaim his gospel as one of works rather than grace. We elevate those that produce results, as if the results are ours to own and claim. When in reality God tells us to abide and as we abide, eternal fruit will come.
Wherever it comes from for us, we were each told a lie somewhere along the way, that we are what we do. So if we’re not doing, who are we?
Have you ever felt like God was asking you to be anyone other than fully yourself? Do you believe God loves you for the ways you serve him?
The beauty of our Jesus is that he doesn’t ask us to become anyone other than who he created. He didn’t create us to do, do, do. He simply asks us to trust, be faithful and partner with him. He asks us to live and work out of a deep abiding soul rest, set securely in our identity as his child and our importance to him.
Psalm 127:1-2 says,
“If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks. If God doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap. It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?” (MSG)
Another translation puts it this way,
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2 (ESV)
I can’t imagine a better way to describe my state over the past two weeks of self-quarantine than “eating the bread of anxious toil.” Have you been eating it too? The bread that is stale and never satisfies, leaving us hungrier than ever. Perhaps you’re like me and you feel yourself deeply avoiding and rejecting rest, maybe it is time to remind ourselves of our status as God’s beloved and how that changes everything.
A general definition for beloved is: dearly loved. So, what does it mean to be one dearly loved by God?
To be God’s beloved means you are seen, cared for and fully loved by the Maker of the universe. You are looked after by the One who “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10). You are justified by the one and only Judge whose opinion matters.
Brennan Manning puts it this way, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it” (The Ragamuffin Gospel). Would you describe your deepest awareness of yourself that way? Take a moment to assess your own heart and the top three things you feel define you? Be brutally honest.
If I’m truthful, my deepest awareness of myself isn’t that I’m deeply and unconditionally loved by God. I define myself by my creativity, productivity and connectedness to the world and people around me. But it is time for striving to cease and a great return to my truest self -- God’s beloved. There and only there will I find rest for my soul, and drink deeply of the well that never runs dry.
God has given us this season where we are forced to slow down. We must not take this for granted. Will you join me in this brutal honesty and great return to our truest self? Because “every other identity is illusion” (Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child). There we will find the rest we were made for and truly be able to simply “be.” Let’s accept God’s invitation to rest, and stop running. We were made for this.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” –Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
1. In what ways do you currently feel restless? What have you been doing in an attempt to run from simply being? How are you rejecting this time of forced rest?
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)
2. How do you currently define yourself? Be vulnerable and honest. This is for your benefit alone. What are the things you do that you’ve allowed to define your value?
3. Take time to open your hands before God and lay those things down. Take as long as it takes. One by one, let them go.
4. Ask the Lord for his thoughts over you. Slow down and listen. Write down what comes to mind.
Pray this prayer with me:
Father, I am restless.
But I know that you’re the God of rest.
Teach me your ways.
Lead me inward.
Deeper and deeper.
Until every part of me
Finds peace and rest
The world is loud.
Thank you that in these times of noise
Your voice is still and small.
Help me open my ears
To hear you when you speak
To take to heart the words that you would say.
I am yours.
I know that you are mine.
And that is enough.
Let it be. Amen.