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What if I told you that working harder towards finding rest is the thing that is actually keeping us from it?
Hear me out. So often we work & toil & do everything in our power to control a piece of our life, that in doing so – we miss what God has for us. I’ll be the first to admit that in my goal of cultivating a restful life, what I was seeking sat higher on the throne than God. Rest became my goal and in that, it became my god. Rest became the target. Rest became the measure of every action I did.
In seeking a life of rest, I inadvertently stopped seeking the Kingdom. I was more concerned with how to find rest than actually being at rest. I didn’t realize that I was finding my identity in what I did rather than who God said I was. I didn’t realize that I was seeking a better life on earth than a glorious life in eternity.
Do you struggle with those things too? Or maybe you’re feeling this:
The feeling like you’re always behind.
The feeling of guilt that looms over you, telling you that you’re not doing enough, that convinces you rest equals laziness.
The feeling of pressure to find the perfect balance between your work and home life.
Those thoughts and feelings are lies from the enemy. The enemy will use whatever He can grasp onto to keep us from living a life of rest & ease with God. He knows the freedom, joy and wholeness we will step into and he will do everything he can to keep us from it.
These three areas are where the enemy schemes to keep us from living a restful life with Jesus: misplaced identity, short term vision, a lack of surrender.
When we attach our work to our worth, we are unable to fully feel at rest.
Brené Brown says it like this:
“When worthiness is a function of productivity, we lose the ability to pump the brakes; the idea of doing something that doesn’t add to the bottom line provokes stress and anxiety. It feels completely contrary to what we believe we want to achieve in life— we convince ourselves that downtime, like playing with our kids or hanging out with our partners, napping, tooling around in the garage or going for a run is a precious waste of time.”
If our identity is found in achieving success then, of course, choosing rest feels like the last thing we’d want to do. However, if our identity is found in who we are rather than what we produce, choosing rest is far easier because we can turn off our work & remain confident that what we produce doesn’t affect who we are. So in not producing, in resting, in taking time off we are still fully loved and worthy. We can rest knowing that our source is not in doing but in being.
Two questions to ask yourself to see if your identity might be misplaced:
When your occupation becomes your identity, you misplace your attention.
We get fixated on the here and now, and we lose sight of the biggest story we are a part of. The bigger race we are running. The race that has eternity as the finish line. Is your finish line in eternity or is it much sooner?
Well, what happens when we get there? Ironically more happens. More things need our attention and we get stuck in this cycle of never feeling like we can fully cultivate rest. We have to remember we will never “arrive.”
Why? Because this is not our home. Every accomplishment, goal, achievement, mountaintop will always leave us longing for more. Because they were never meant to satisfy us in the first place.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Earthly goals & motivation are good things. They keep us moving and growing in our occupation & our calling to make this world look like heaven, cultivating the garden into the garden city. God calls us to work and do it well. But that work shouldn’t come at the cost of our souls. “What does it gain for a man to profit the world but lose His soul?” We will certainly lose our souls if our vision isn’t eternity.
Mark 8:36 MSG “What does it gain for a man to profit the world but lose His soul?”
If the goal is heaven, what are the actions today you’re doing to move you closer to that? Those actions will look a lot different if our vision is on ourselves, our week, or our year.Actions become our habits and our habits become our character. What we do now will have an effect on our future whether we want them to or not, so we need to choose what will bear the most fruit in light of eternity! It’s choosing what we need most over what we want now.
Two questions to ask yourself to see if you’re looking with short term vision:
What we need isn’t more ways to rest or feel good about our actions. It isn’t more tasks to check off, it isn’t more time. It’s more of Jesus. It’s more of His presence in our hearts & in our lives. It’s less of us holding onto our lives more of giving it over to Him.
We as humans desire control. Control over our circumstances, over our actions, over our lives. I’ll be the first to say that I’m guilty of taking care of my circumstances before taking my circumstances to God. I’d rather do whatever I humanly can to fix my shortcomings before coming to God with my inabilities. I try to do what I can to take another day off, to protect my rest, to build the life I feel called to. Instead of actually coming to the One who is the source of it all.
While those actions are great in protecting what He’s given us to steward, if they’re not from a place of surrender they’ll become an act of striving. If they’re not from a place of crying out to God at the foot of the cross, they’ll leave us looking like a better version of ourselves instead of a better reflection of Jesus.
Two questions to ask yourself to see if you’re not walking in full surrender
How do we remain constant in finding our identity in Him? How do I keep my vision fixed on eternity? How do I continually surrender my life? Well, first off let me just say, grace sister. This is your permission to take a breath, knowing that who you are is fully loved and fully enough. We have access to the King of Kings, and He invites us into His beautiful rhythm to learn how to do it:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” - Matthew 28:30 MSG
The most simple life-giving first step to walking in that holy rhythm of resting with Jesus is time with Him.
We cannot run this race without staying connected to our sources. It’s in the secret place, the quiet place where our friendship with Jesus is cultivated. It’s where we are reminded we are worthy of love by just sitting and being with Him. In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus is speaking to Martha about how Mary chooses the good portion. Martha’s actions aren’t bad, she is missing the point. She’s so fixated on creating a space to spend time with Jesus that she misses spending time with Him at all. We have to remember that we cannot do anything more or anything less to make Him love or approve us any more or any less.
We have to choose to cultivate a life that makes time with God the priority. It’s in that secret place He restores us, He calls us, He loves us, He reminds us. It’s during this time we are reminded that we are NOT God, the world will go on without us, and we can sit a little lighter knowing that we are not the ones in control. It’s in that space the lies are silenced and we are filled by the one who loves us most.
A restful life isn’t a life of having everything put together in perfect, equally balanced boxes. It’s a life that is intertwined in friendship with Him that inherently bleeds a full surrender to Christ, vision for eternity, and an identity that is found in the source of Christ.
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