Deepening Dependence

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”  Micah 7:7 (NASB)

This age is one filled with busyness — seeking, striving, working, overworking, constant, non-stop pursuit.  And with it comes so much stress and pressure that never let up.

Because if we do, then everything will fall apart.  Right?

At least that’s what we tell ourselves.  At least that is what the evil one wants us to believe.

But the truth is that we need to stop.  The truth is that we need to rest.

The truth is that our bodies need rest — that our bodies crave rest — in order to be at their best.   And our souls need to rest in order thrive … perhaps in order to survive.

Why?

I cannot say for sure.  But it is incontrovertible that God built into our very being a need for rest — on all levels.  When we are awake for extended periods of time, our body begins to shut down for sleep.  When we exercise a particular muscle group, we then need to rest it in order for it to heal, grow and strengthen.  When we study intensely for a period of time, our minds then need a break in order to assimilate the information absorbed.

And our souls need rest from the constant striving in order to deepen our dependence on God.

When we rest in the Lord, we acknowledge that we are not in control … that the outcome (of whatever it is we are striving to accomplish) is not dependent on us alone.  We acknowledge that all things are actually in the hands of the Lord.  We admit to our frailty and limitations and surrender to His strength and all-sufficiency.

God says: “wait on Me.  Depend on Me.  Trust in Me alone.”

When we rest, not only are we taking care of the bodies and souls that God gave us, but more importantly, we are depending on God and honoring Him in the process.

For me, I learning this to be true:  deepening my dependence on myself isn’t get me very far … but deepening my dependence on God will take me everywhere I truly want to be.

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Gifts

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give ….” Luke 11:13 (NIV)

I have been blessed with two amazing children. While I am trying to raise them so that they are not attached to worldly things, I do enjoy giving them gifts. Giving good gifts brings joy to me and to them.

However, when I give them gifts, I am often met with varying reactions.

  • Occasionally the gift is rejected … or worse, thrown across the room. My heart sinks.
  • Sometimes the gift is courteously received but then sits on the shelf collecting dust. My heart is saddened, but relieved that at least some level of respect was shown.
  • Sometimes the gift is loved … at first. Then as time goes on, the kids tire of the gift. I sigh, wondering what they might treasure.
  • Other times, however, the gift is really loved. I know when the gift is really loved, because the gift is cared for, treasured and loved no matter how long they have it.

God has given us an amazingly good gift in our bodies. Our bodies are so incredibly intricate and complex (see e.g., last week’s entry Fueling & Cleansing). I often wonder how God experiences our response to this amazing gift He has given us. Do you think He thinks we love it!? What do our actions toward it reveal about our true response?

If you have kids, I know you’ve experienced this: your kid wants a new (fill in the blank toy) because he trashed the last one. And you think: ” you’ve got to be kidding!? Why would I buy you a new one when you couldn’t take care of the old one!?”

Hmmmmm….

God gives good gifts. He has given you an awesome gift for you to care for, grow and steward. Show Him how grateful you are!

Rest-oration

“For in six days, the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea and everything in them; then He rested in the seventh day. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” Exodus 20:11 (NLT)

Do you consider rest to be holy?  Most of us don’t. Our lives are crazy busy and overfilled. Silence is a rarity and rest? Well, rest is hard to come by.

So, then again, maybe rest is holy. Maybe rest denotes honor and respect. Think about it: when someone has been “worked to death,” it reveals a lack of respect for that person. Their personal value has been disregarded and minimized.  To allow rest would be giving a level of honor.

Perhaps to rest means to quit working and chasing our tails and trust that God is in charge and will take care of us, because … well … He promises to.  And we trust Him, right?

This is the last of a 3-part series with practical tips for stewarding our bodies.  We looked at monitoring our Input (March 20 entry), increasing our Output (March 27 entry), and now we’ll look at Restoration.  And rest is key to restoration.  Let’s learn to better rest our bodies because we trust in God and we value the bodies He has given us. So here are a few thoughts:

  • Do you get enough sleep?  Most adults do not.  God gave us sleep and, on average, our bodies need at least 8 hours a night.
  • Are you overtraining?  While exercise is essential to overall well-being, many exercise enthusiasts and new recruits are at risk of overtraining.  One or two days off of exercise is recommended for your body to rest and recover.
  • Are you constantly on the go, running from one thing to another?  If so, then your body, mind and soul are probably tired.  I am a firm believer in keeping the Sabbath and in periodic solitude retreats.  Honor your body, mind and soul by resting from all of life’s craziness and reconnecting with yourself and with God.

God created a rhythm of life for us, and that rhythm includes rest.  Maybe we too can rediscover the holiness of rest.

Hard Work

“So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you are really among those God has called and chosen. ” 2 Peter 1:10a (NLT)

When we consider the spiritual aspect of our lives, most Christians know that staying strong in their faith takes work, and growing in our faith takes hard work.  While we know that God is ultimately the One who causes the growth (see 1 Corinthians 3:6-9), we also know that there is some mysterious partnership between us and God — we know that we have to participate by working hard to maintain and strengthen our faith.

The same is true about the physical aspect of our lives.  While God created it as an amazing organism that grows and heals itself … in order for it to obtain its higher and God-given potential, hard work is required.  We have to be thoughtful about what we eat, how much exercise we get, how must rest we give our bodies, etc.

The Greek word used in 2 Peter for “work hard” also can be translated as “be more diligent” or “give diligence.”  Many of us fall into one of two categories:  either we are diligent about the spiritual aspect of our lives or we are diligent about the physical aspect.  Given time restraints and responsibilities, many of us can only find time to give diligence to one.  What I wish to propose is that we not consider it and either-or choice, but that we could see there is a both-and option.

Caring for my body is an act of worship.  God created my body and gave it to me to steward during my life on earth.  Practically speaking, my exercise room has become my sanctuary.  My time on the treadmill has become my best prayer time.  It’s a time I am open and listening and laying things before God and have the space to hear Him respond.  Eating well has strengthened my discipline and self-control (not to mention I feel better too!).  Getting enough rest not only reminds me to let go of things and trust God but also to value and respect my personal limits.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

So, dear brothers and sisters, I trust that you are working hard, but I ask you to consider your hard work not to be an either-or choice, but a both-and.  (For more, see April 7, 2014 entry).

Rest

“[The Lord] grants sleep to those He loves.” Psalm 127:2 (NIV)

We rarely think of rest as a crucial part of our fitness regiment … but it is. Built into the fabric of every aspect of ourselves is the need to rest, and that includes our health.

Weight trainers know that they need to rest a muscle group for one to two days before they work that same muscle group again. The muscles need time to rest and to heal before they can be worked again effectively. (See discussion of muscle growth in August, 17, 2014 entry). Runners know that after a long race (and the season of training preceding it), their body needs to rest and recover before they should compete again. Training always needs to be balanced with rest.

Other parts of our body operate similarly. After long periods of study or problem-solving, our minds need a break — it need a rest from that activity. When we are sick or overextended, sometimes the best thing we can do is literally take a nap! (Even God rested on the seventh day after six days of creating! See Genesis 2.)

And so it is with our souls. Sometimes we are doing some heavy-lifting in our souls. Sometimes we are in marathon-seasons of our life. Sometimes, especially at those times, we desperately need to be replenished and restored. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

Are you getting enough rest?