Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rest and renewal

Today is the first day I’ve had some time alone for more than a week. As an introvert who draws strength from those alone times, I’ve felt need of this. Some of my exhaustion is from those daily, fun-filled and busy, sight-seeing excursions with family, but it seems I’ve been craving some time by myself.  Yesterday, my husband and I did as little as possible. I had several naps and slept well last night, but I still feel the need to be alone so Hubby is golfing. Today’s devotional reading offers this verse.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
In context, Paul is writing to a church that has outdone themselves in financial giving to his needs. He is grateful to them, yet wants them to know that no matter how much they give, God will still supply their needs. They cannot out-give God. 

A friend of mine is living on welfare. One Sunday the sermon was about giving and the generosity of God when we are generous. She doesn’t have much, but she was convicted by the Holy Spirit to put what she had in the offering plate. Later, as everyone participated in a time of greeting and hand-shaking, someone slipped a large bill into her hand, five times what she had put in the plate. She was astonished and quickly learned that she could not out-give God. 

Even though the verse and the principle is almost always applied to money, it seems to me that it can be applied to other forms of giving. What about time? Or effort? Or offering one’s talents or abilities to God? What about giving of one’s self to family or friends? Two passages of Scripture come to mind in this regard.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29–31)
In a few days, we tramped two “world’s biggest” malls, walked from one end of a zoo to the other, and drove to Key West and back (four hours each way). Even the youngest among us was faint and weary. While God’s promise about waiting on Him could mean the waiting to find out His will and then doing it, it certainly includes the waiting for renewed strength after serving Him.

Does that service include saying yes to lots of activity for the sake of family? Perhaps. Earlier in the chapter, God talks about His tender care for those who are walking with Him and burdened with family. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11) Mom’s and grand moms get tired just with the daily stuff.
Another passage comes from the words of Jesus given to those who are over-tired. He says,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)
Again, this is about fatigue. It can be the fatigue of taking on a burden that was not mine to carry. Is it possible that God wanted me to stay home and put my feet up instead of going along on those tiring excursions? Even if He did, He still offers rest for the weary and says that I can find that rest in Him. 

Physical rest is vital for the body, but even sleep cannot restore those who are spiritually burdened or over-extended by service in the name of the Lord. He is my source and my resource. I cannot go, go, go without some time for renewal. Yet even waiting on the Lord isn’t about merely sitting still and doing nothing. Waiting means spending time with Him, finding His will and doing it, even being active in the resulting obedience. 


Lord, I’m hoping that today I can wait on You. May You give me rest for both body and soul that restores my strength and renews my energy. Thank You that nothing is too difficult for You, nor is no matter too small for Your grace and kindness. Thank You also that no matter any output in Your name and for Your glory, it is not possible to out-give You.

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