Overwhelmed by God’s Rest

I had the privilege of sharing at our Wonderstruck Women’s Bible Study this morning on the Wonder of Rest! ❤ Here is what I shared…

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…” – Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV84)

In this fast-paced, technological world we live in, it’s easy to stay busy, to overload our plates, to get overwhelmed and burnt-out. As a mother to 4 young children, I’ve often dreamt of the day when my kids will be out of the house and I’ll naturally have more free time on my hands. Unfortunately, I’ve been told it doesn’t actually happen that way; that there are different seasons of life, but they don’t tend to slow down. Not on their own anyway.

In the midst of the crazy, the messy, the stressful… the child-rearing, the workday, the ministry… we need to learn to find rest. Time. Peace. Space. Room. We need to receive the wonder of God’s rest… to prioritize the seizing of it… to pause long enough to breathe, recharge, refuel.

I don’t believe it’s necessarily a sin to be weary or tired. But I do believe we ‘miss the mark’ (sin) when we try to find our rest anywhere else but God. He is more than enough! He is our Source, the Provider of every need we have. And He doesn’t want us to stay weary and burdened… He beckons us to come to Him, to enter in to His gift of rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV84)

For those that like definitions, here are a few I pulled from this passage: (http://www.blueletterbible.org/)

  • Weary – kopiaō = to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief); to labor with wearisome effort, to toil
  • Heavy-laden – phortizō = to place a burden upon, to load; to load one with a burden (of rites and unwanted precepts)
  • Will give rest – anapauō = to cause or permit to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength; to give rest, refresh; to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation
  • Rest – anapausis = intermission, cessation of any motion, business or labor; rest, recreation
  • Easy – chrēstos = fit, fit for use, useful, virtuous, good; manageable, mild, pleasant (as opposed to harsh, hard, sharp, bitter), of things: more pleasant
  • Light – elaphros = light in weight, quick, agile

The world’s burdens make us weary and heavy-laden; but there is an exchange that can take place in God’s presence. He gives us rest from all that weighs us down; He invites us to take His yoke upon us, for it is easy and light. I love that definition of easy – it’s not how I typically think of “easy” (effortless, smooth, simple)… There’s still work to be done, things to be carried. But when we’re yoked with Him, we’re fit for use; it’s manageable, pleasant – not harsh, hard or bitter.

For years I’ve had a picture in my mind with this verse of two oxen yoked together, bearing their load together…. That Jesus comes along side of us to help us carry our burdens. I was looking at pictures online yesterday of yokes and this statement caught my eye: “Custom fitting each side allows oxen of unequal size or strength to pull together without one being dragged by the other.” Jesus is so much stronger than I am, able to carry so much more than me, but He also doesn’t want me being dragged behind or weighed down by the worries of this life. How wonder-ful: custom fit yokes.

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” – Psalm 68:19 (NIV84)

It doesn’t make sense… the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – wants to bear our burdens daily. He cares for us that much. And He wants us to enter in to His rest. What a wonder!

“Now as they were traveling along, Jesus entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me!’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42 (NASB)

Bear with me… Here are some more Greek definitions!

  • Listening – akouō = to hear, to attend to, consider what has been said, to understand, perceive the sense of what is said, to find out, learn
  • Distracted – perispaō = to draw away, to be driven about mentally, distracted, to be over-occupied, too busy (about a thing)
  • Worried – merimnaō = to be anxious, troubled with cares, to care for, look out for, to seek to promote one’s interests
  • Bothered – thorybazō = disturb, trouble, be troubled in mind, disquieted
  • Necessary – chreia = necessity, need, duty, business

In Women’s Ministry we often hear this passage. Mary and Martha… We feel like Martha, but want to be like Mary. How do we get there? We have to make the conscious decision that it is better to be than to do; it is better to get caught up in Jesus than in the busyness of our everyday lives. Jesus is the better thing; being filled by His word is more fulfilling than our attempts at serving Him.

Alan Fadling wrote a book called An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest. (My husband Jon is reading it right now and I’m eagerly waiting for my turn! The irony – if only he would hurry and read about being unhurried!) 🙂 Anyway, I was skimming through it the other night and sure enough, I found this passage. I love what Fadling has to say: “Martha’s worried words to Jesus exposed her hurried heart. Doing something good for him took precedence over listening to something good from Him.”

We have to stop getting distracted by the preparations, stop being worried and bothered by so many things, and focus instead on the One who is gentle and humble. We need to get caught up in the One who gives our souls rest.

* Note: God took me to John 12:2 in my study time yesterday… Martha was again serving dinner in Jesus’ honor. She was ministering to Him… but this time there is no mention of her being distracted, worried or bothered. Her brother, Lazarus, was reclining, dining, not helping Martha. Her sister, Mary, was anointing Jesus in preparation for His burial. It seems to me they were all where they were supposed to be. And Martha was focused on serving her Lord, not on telling Him to have Mary help her… I wonder if Martha, like Mary, had learned to enter into His rest.

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” – Isaiah 40:11 (NIV84)

God re-highlighted this verse for me last week, and opened it up to me in new ways. In my journal I wrote: “He gathers and carries my kids close to His heart, in His arms – His precious lambs. He gently leads me.”

Then He had me look up that phrase “gently lead” in the Hebrew… it’s the word nahal, and it means: to lead, give rest, lead with care, guide to a watering place or station, cause to rest, bring to a station (or goal) or place of rest, guide, refresh. My heart leapt for joy when I read this definition! I always knew that He wanted to lead me, but lead me into rest?! We serve an amazing God! Jesus is the Good Shepherd! He gently leads us, with care, to places of rest and times of refreshing. Oh, that I would be undistracted and my heart ready and willing to follow Him in to those sweet places of rest and refreshing.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV84)

God doesn’t grow tired or weary; He has an unlimited supply of strength and power, and it’s available to us. Even for those of us who may be prone to getting tired and weary… when we put our hope in the Lord, when we enter into His Presence – His rest – we will renew our strength! We’ll soar and run and walk and not get tired or weary or faint… it won’t make sense to the world or even to those around us – it’s supernatural rest! And it’s a wonder!

“The Lord replied [to Moses], ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14 (NIV84)

The Hebrew word for rest in this verse is nuwach, and it means: to rest, settle down and remain, to repose, have rest, be quiet; to cause to rest, make quiet, open space. I love the heart of our Heavenly Father – to be with us, for His presence to go with us, for us to receive His gift of rest. To settle down in Him, to have quiet moments with Him, to remain.

In her devotional Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are, Shauna Niequist writes: “How often do we push and rush and produce and achieve, and then find ourselves depleted and short with the people we love? And then how often do we blame ourselves for being weak and unorganized? … I’m learning that to rest is not to be weak. To rest is to prepare yourself to be used by God – because imagine what he can do in a person who is fully rested, able to think well and feel deeply?”

Amen! Rest is not weakness. It is a crucial part of our life on this earth, a time to be strengthened by God Himself. To set aside our agendas and to-do lists, to realign ourselves with our Heavenly Father, to sit at Jesus’ feet… listening, being, resting.

Here are a few more verses to reflect on in regards to rest:

“Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.” – Exodus 34:21 (NIV84)

“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:8 (NIV84)

“I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest…’” – Psalm 55:6 (NIV84)

“My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him… Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” – Psalm 62:1,5 (NIV84)

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’” – Isaiah 30:15 (NIV84)

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” – Psalm 116:7 (NIV84)

I pray that we remember the goodness of the Lord, and enter into His rest. That we will be underwhelmed by our circumstances, troubles, the messy parts of life… and overwhelmed by Him and His glorious rest.


This week’s song suggestions:

My Revival” by Lauren Daigle

Cecie’s Lullaby” by Steffany Gretzinger


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