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.

For My Youngest

For My Youngest

Edits 0004You know those cute little stickers for each month of your baby’s first year, the ones you’re supposed to stick to a onesie and click a cute pic so you can look back and see your child’s growth? Yeah, Georgia will be seven months this weekend, and I’ve done exactly one of those. And it was three weeks late. I would tell you these are third child problems, but, truth be told, I got maybe two or three of my older girls during their first year. I finally caught up on the photo books I (try to) make, this last one having about two years of pictures because that’s how behind I was. Then, I saw that it was going to be $54 even with a promo code because it’s so stinking long, so, yeah, I haven’t ordered that yet. And I’ve apparently found a new version of Russian roulette where you wait until you are completely out of diapers and then make the trek to Target hoping you won’t have a blowout on the way. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not going to win any awards for Most On Top of It this year. (Or any year–let’s be honest.) But while our picture books might be a couple years behind, I’ll keep coming to this little place to write our story. And, Georgia, this page is for you.

I know it’s cliche to wonder where the time has gone, but that saying about the days being long and the years short is truth. Parenting in this season, while the hardest thus far, is my favorite. With every child, I’ve had to release my white-knuckled approach to life a little more and a little more. So that, by you, Georgia Ray, I have finally surrendered (at least on most days) to dirty floors and overflowing laundry bins, sticky fingerprints and snack requests every 3.7 seconds. Often, you and I will leave the big girls and their play dough/watercolor/mud pie/dance party explosion and steal away to the nursery for a few minutes in the afternoon. That’s when the light comes in brightest through your window. We rock in the glider and listen to old hymns. And you do what you always do–smile and laugh. Maybe it’s following the type A and firecracker sisters or maybe it’s just being the third child or maybe you take after your daddy, but you are as easy-going as they come. You watch everything with this look of awe, and nothing makes you laugh like your sisters. (Nothing makes me laugh like them either.) Sometimes you wear this funny expression like you’re still trying to figure out how you ended up in this crazy, rambunctious family. But, goodness, I can barely remember life before you.

Like the best books with layers of plot twists and turns, each of you, my precious daughters, has added a new narrative to this story we call family. Lydia’s life is writing a story of hope in a God who never leaves us. Charlotte’s a story of faithfulness and trusting in God when we can’t understand His plan. And you, sweet Georgia Ray, with all your peach-colored ink are writing one of abundance, of a God who loves lavishly. This weekend, we will gather our family around the table, and your daddy and I will publicly dedicate ourselves to live before you a life that makes you want to know this God who knew our names before the creation of the world. This Savior who redeems all our brokenness and makes us beautiful. This Holy Spirit who lives within us changing us from the inside out.

In my prayer journal I have a page for each of you girls. Granted, yours isn’t typed like the others but rather a welter of verses and promises I pray for you all scrawled together in my part-cursive/part-print handwriting. One day I’ll get it orderly and looking pretty–or maybe I won’t because I’ll be spending my time in the rocker with you and that gorgeous afternoon sun. But I’ll pray them for you daily and whisper them in your ear often. I love you, Georgia Ray, and I pray that your different colored eyes never stop gazing with wonder at Your Maker and His creation.

Your verses…

Matthew 9:35-38//And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” 

Georgia, your name means “farmer,” and while we were in the hospital God brought this verse to mind. When I first read the meaning of Georgia, I thought of my Papaw. My Papaw loved two things–God’s Word and God’s people. I pray you will labor for the only harvest that matters, that you will love lavishly and give generously.

Leviticus 26:11-13// Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

Your middle name Ray means “strong protector,” and it was the name of your daddy’s late grandfather. The only thing scarier than saying yes to God is saying no. God often asks us to do things we don’t understand, but He has broken the yoke of fear and worry, and He promises He will make His dwelling among us. Press on in faith, sweet girl.

Isaiah 49:1-3// Listen to Me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. He has made My mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me; and He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver. He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel, in Whom I will show My glory.”

A verse I pray for all my children. You are His arrows, His glory–not mine.

Isaiah 61:1-3//The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

I pray you will be planted deep, your worth coming from the life-changing truth of His Word.

John 10:10//The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Life abundant in Him alone. My prayer for you and our family, Georgia Ray.

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