I chose a nap today.

I chose a nap today.

I chose a nap today. Few things seem as luxurious, as absolutely extravagant as a nap these days. But I did. And it wasn’t the first time this month. Or week. I glanced right over the scattered toys and microscopic Perler beads on the floor. I laid the book I’d been reading on my chest and closed my eyes.

But I haven’t written in days. The laundry is sitting wet in the washer. Nothing has been marked off the bullet journal in at least three hours.

And I closed my eyes.

“You can’t write what you haven’t lived.” I don’t remember who said it or if she was the originator of that pearl of wisdom, but it lodged. And every time I hear the whispering scream to “do more, be more, have more, share more, say more,” I whisper back, “No thanks, I’m living this one small and wonderful, messy and beautiful life. This season–with a flurry of little girls around my feet and in my lap and barnacled to my left calf and with a wall held up in prayer and Scripture and drawings made by big sisters and a husband who somehow keeps getting more and more interesting, what with his fun socks and newfound love of fountain pens–it’s ripe for living. And then napping.

So, to the world it might look like less. Less productivity. Less doing. Less to show for all my effort. But to the heart and soul it looks like everything.

So you gathered with girlfriends and ate chips and salsa by the gallons and laughed until you thought you might need Depends but no one took a picture. Or you realize when your child is two that you never wrote a blog for her first birthday and you think surely you’re giving her material for the therapist she’ll visit in her 30s when she describes her third child problems. Or you close your eyes and nap. (Because sometimes the living happens in the middle of the night potty trips and tuck-ins.)

Just because the moment wasn’t captured on your phone or task list, doesn’t mean it wasn’t captured where it matters. In your heart and in your soul. 

 

When You Need Rest that a Nap Can’t Give

When You Need Rest that a Nap Can’t Give

The fence outside my window drips wet. Beyond it is a cold, gray sky. What happens when the walls you’ve built up start to crumble? When the plans you’ve made start cracking? When the tired isn’t the kind a nap can cure?

Isaiah 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

Jerusalem was surrounded by walls. These walls offered protection, boundaries, limits. They protected the people, and they protected the temple within. But at the time of this message from Isaiah, the walls have been destroyed by Israel’s enemy. When His people feel forsaken and defeated, their God is reminding them that even in the midst of very dark days, He has not forgotten them. Bricks and mortar can crumble, but His children are still engraved on the palms of His hands. El Roi still sees them.

Divine rest doesn’t mean that situational circumstances are good. It doesn’t mean happy-go-lucky all the time. And it doesn’t mean a week-long vacation to the Caribbean. Pain splits us. Dreams shatter. Things don’t work out like we hoped they would. And right there in the middle of that rubble, He is whispering to them and to us that we are still in the palm of His hand. No matter what our circumstances, our unmet desires, our prayers that seem unanswered—our names are still engraved on the palms of His hands.

What does it look like to be temple-building, to have divine rest, to Sabbath? It’s not laziness because the Bible is clear that we are supposed to persevere, to press on. No, temple-building is our caring about one thing—being in His Presence.

“One thing have I asked of the Lordthat will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4

God gave the regulations around Sabbath in the Old Testament to help His people carve out time to be in His presence. In the New Testament, God came to dwell with His people in Jesus Christ, thus making Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath. His Presence walked among us. He ate and drank, walked and talked, bled and died. And then at Pentecost, the promised Holy Spirit came to dwell within those who believed. From beginning to end, it was about His Presence. It was about God Almighty dwelling among His people. Our Sabbath comes when we rest in His presence. Temple-building happens when we spend time in God’s Word, when we pray Scripture, when we worship alone and worship together, when we gather and break bread with people, when we remember how He broke and poured.

Remember Martha and Mary?

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42, emphasis mine

Mary chose the good portion. Mary could rest with a contentment that came not from what she had done but what the One she worshiped had done. 

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” Psalm 16:5, emphasis mine

Every day we have a million choices for how to spend our time and where to place our attention. When the Lord is our chosen portion, we can choose to get off the rat race and stop keeping up with the Joneses. We can be content in who we are because of Who we worship.

God’s Word isn’t about a self-help book. It isn’t a new diet, a new organization strategy, or a new way to declutter. The gospel isn’t about self-help at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. The gospel is about Jesus doing what we could NEVER do. And that’s where our rest comes from. He did what we could never do. Now, God invites us to sit before Him and bask in Who He is. To open His Word and allow Him to do His work within us.

Jesus Christ came to dwell with my rubble self. I will never be able to do anything good enough to earn His Presence. He knew that, and He bled grace. Sabbath is my thank you. Sabbath is my rest from performing, from achieving, from striving. Sabbath is my invitation to be a dwelling place for God Almighty. To build the temple for His Presence.

*This is part 2 of a series on rest and Sabbath. Part 1 can be found here. 

Divine Rest

Divine Rest

For a long time, I’ve wrestled to reconcile the laws and regulations of Sabbath in the Old Testament with the freedom Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, describes in the New Testament. While preparing for a talk several weeks ago, the Holy Spirit showed me some things that brought clarity to my wrestling. It seemed like too much for one blog, so I split it into two parts, each part focusing on one half of Isaiah 49:16. Part 2 will be posted Wednesday, February 24th. 

I spent my childhood summers on my grandparents’ farm. I remember my grandfather and I would climb up onto the seat of the tractor and ride out into the pasture to check on his cows. I loved going by the salt lick. (And I admit to tasting it once or twice.) I loved dragging the hose over and filling up the old cast iron bathtub the cows used as a watering trough. Often, we moved the cows from one part of the pasture to another so they could graze on fresh grass. One day while we were out there, I noticed the brand on one of the cows and asked my grandfather about it. He told me how the branding iron was heated up until it was red hot then placed on the hide of the cow until it seared its permanent mark onto the animal.

Early last year, amid a lot of feelings of unworthiness and people-pleasing tendencies, I wrote a little verse on a sticky and stuck it to my bathroom mirror.

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isaiah 49:16

It’s that searing mark I saw in the pasture that I think of when I read this verse. Except with God, He took the searing. He took the mark. God uses His messenger Isaiah to remind His people, His children who feel forgotten and defeated, lost and afflicted, that He cannot forget them because they are engraved on His hands. We are seared into His hands. He doesn’t just hold us. We have left a permanent mark on Him.

The metaphorical mark described by Isaiah would become a literal mark on the day God Incarnate, Jesus Christ, went to the cross for us. It would be Thomas who said he needed to see with his own eyes the mark of the nails in his hands, and eight days later, Jesus showed him. “Put your finger here, and see my hands…” John 20:26.

Our worth, our being engraved on the palms of His hands is not determined by what we do. Our worth was determined the day Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, willingly chose to die for us. Our worth was demonstrated the day God willingly watched His Only Son pay the ransom for us. Our worth is not determined by what we do. Our worth is determined by what He did.

When we live life from a place of knowing our worth because of what He did, we can let go of the performance-driven life, the perfectionist life, the control-freak life. We can surrender to rest, divine rest. 

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3

The ESV Study Bible says this about chapter 2, “The repeated comment that God rested does not imply that he was weary from labor. The effortless ease with which everything is done in Ch. 1 suggests otherwise. Rather, the motif of God’s resting hints at the purpose of creation. As reflected in various ancient Near Eastern accounts, divine rest is associated with temple building. God’s purpose for the earth is that it should become His dwelling place; it is not simply made to house his creatures. God’s activities on this day all fit this delightful pattern. The concept of the earth as a divine sanctuary, which is developed further in 2:4-25, runs throughout the whole Bible, coming to a climax in the future reality that the apostle John sees in his vision of a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ in Rev 21:1-22:5.”

Divine Rest = Temple Building

God’s purpose for the earth is that it should become His dwelling place. When I read that, I flipped over to the page in my prayer journal and looked at some of the verses I’ve gathered for my word of the year, dwell. 

Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 16:9 Therefore, my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

1 Chronicles 17:9 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1 

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4 

God’s purpose for the earth is that it should become His dwelling place. We know that as believers the Holy Spirit dwells within us. This is why we are here, and this is why Sabbath is so important. Sabbath is divine rest. And divine rest means remembering our worth doesn’t come from a title or an address or an income. Our worth comes from being engraved on His palms, from the marks He bore while He hung on a cross because of His Great Love for us. Divine rest means carving out time and space to build the temple, to be God’s dwelling place.

The Question Changing Me

The Question Changing Me

Yesterday afternoon while the girls and I were on a walk I spotted the first tiny buds peeking out on a branch. I’m sure we have a few more cold days, but I can feel it. Spring is inching her blossom-gilt self closer and closer. This week we’ve been soaking up sunshine at the park, around the block and at Sonic where the girls and I gleefully split an M&M Blast. I can feel myself thawing–literally, certainly, but much deeper than that. I’m learning to rest–slowly, stubbornly, surely.

A few days ago, my mentor and I were talking. Somewhere in our conversation she shared a profound question, and I can already feel it reshaping me.

“What’s your motive?”

In my flesh, I am a people-pleaser, a performer, a controller, so I love to say yes. Asking myself, “What’s your motive?” immediately reveals my why. Am I trying to please someone? Am I trying to prove myself? Am I trying to control? If so, I’m saying yes for the wrong motive. And all those yeses with the wrong motive take their toll. They leave me running and spinning and chasing and doing. But all that labor isn’t about God and His glory. It’s about me and my performing.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus tells us in Matthew. Rest looks very unproductive, but it is doing the hardest work of all–surrendering. Come to Me. Surrender your agenda, your reputation, your facade, your craving for control. Come, be still. Come, rest.

The world says, “Perform.” Jesus says, “Rest.” ~ Tim Keller

White Space

White Space

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetI’m learning about white space this year. Margin you might call it. Or rest. But I’m still learning to love that word. I’ve said, “No” to four things already this year. Four. I’m pretty sure that’s more than I said, “No” to all 365 days of 2013. For a people-pleasing, over-achieving, extrovert this is no small accomplishment. I like to say, “Yes” because I want you to like me. Because this might be the opportunity that changes everything. Because I don’t want to miss the inside joke.

I learned an important lesson during my marathon training. Rest days are just as important as running days. You can’t have all rest with no running, but you also can’t have all running with no rest. Ironically, it was on a run that I realized how much “running” I had been doing in the rest of my life. The calendar was jam-packed. I was dragging the girls from one place to another. We ate pizza for dinner more nights than I would like to admit. As I ran that morning, I realized I had to slow down. We were coming upon Advent and I wanted Christmas to be different this year. At the end of my run, I texted my three girlfriends and told them I had to bail out of something I had told them I could do. They were incredibly understanding and before our conversation was over we decided to remove another thing off our calendars too. Margin. White Space. Rest.

During all this, I started thinking about my word for 2014. One word beckoned me, like a quilt that’s just been pulled from the dryer… Behold. To truly see all that God is doing in my midst. To learn to be still and hold on. To treasure the fleeting gifts all around me. I had let life become a blur, and I couldn’t even see the gifts around me because I was so exhausted and emotional from the frenetic pace I had us running. I realized one of my most significant roles as wife and mom is to set the pace for our family, and it was time for me to dial it down. I went back to my What Matters Most List and started using it to say, “No” to good things so I could say, “Yes” to the best things. This will be a journey, a bumpy one I imagine. But it is one I must take.

Living mindfully is the art of living awake and ready to embrace the gift of the present moment. Macrina Wiederkehr

A couple months ago, Matt and I were hanging a picture in our bathroom. The piece was a set of photographs Matt had taken in high school for an art class. Matt took dozens of photographs in high school for his art and photography classes, and they’re all framed the exact same way, simple black frame and a thick white mat. When you add a mat around a picture, the blank space draws the viewer’s attention to the art it holds. The white space creates a pause, a rest for the eye, so you can truly see and appreciate the art. So you can behold.