Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Only Cure for Restlessness

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

We walked briskly to the stable as early morning sunlight peeked through the trees. The thick August humidity had been ushered out by an unexpected storm, and the sky was a crisp blue. A small group of us gathered in front of the barn. It was our last day at Family Camp, and God had been softly whispering to my tired heart all week long. Years had passed since I’d ridden a horse, but I felt excitement rather than fear rise up within me, a sign I was ready to embrace whatever God had planned for me out on that trail.

Swanee, the head wrangler at Pine Cove, paired me with the tallest, strongest horse. I took note of his monstrous feet as I hoisted myself up into the saddle. Moon Pie obviously got his name from his smooth chocolate coat. I would have never pegged him as a gentle horse, not for all the strength I could see he possessed. 

As we rode across the field, between trees with sagging branches and down rocky paths, I was overcome by the reality that this horse trusted me. He was completely at rest, every ounce of his strength in total submission. Words from the book of Isaiah- God’s words to a people bent on running away- churned in my mind that morning. Somewhere out on that trail with my new friend, Moon Pie, God’s whisper met my restlessness with this:

There is no rest without trust.

All four gospels record Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the day we now call Palm Sunday. Jesus didn’t come as most expected. He rode an unbroken colt through a noisy crowd of people waving palm branches everywhere. Hardly ideal for a first time ride. (see Matthew 21:2, Mark 11:2 & Luke 19:37-38) He could have picked a fast stallion, but Jesus never rushes, and He doesn’t rush me either. He is patient to earn my trust. He allows my will to run wild, but He knows how to handle my heart. Jesus isn’t interested in using force, nor is control His tactic. His gentleness compels me to drop my guard and trust.

Five days after His humble entry into Jerusalem, Jesus hung on a cross and finished what He came to do. John’s gospel tells us that those closest to Jesus were at first confused. (see John 12:16) They didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t take the city by storm, ride in on a war-horse, overturn injustice and make everything right. They didn’t realize that this was God's way of making all things right. This king cared more about relationship than He did appearance or fame. This king was from a whole different kingdom, and He trusted His Father who sent Him. Jesus rested in God’s love, the same love that raised Him from the grave three days later.
“Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” John 8:25-26

God is worthy of my trust.

Who else offers love regardless of the condition of my heart? Who fully sees me, fully knows me, and fully understands me better than He who made me? Who else is both willing and able to bind my wounds? Who weeps when I’m hurt and remains close enough to catch my tears?  Who else gave His life for me? As if all that were not enough, words recorded centuries ago reveal promises He’s kept, promises we can all rest in.

I will defend you.  (Jeremiah 50:34)
I will never leave you.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I will not reject you.  (Psalm 94:14)
I will protect you.  (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
I will heal you and set you free.  (Isaiah 61:1)
I will rename you.  (Isaiah 62:2 and Revelation 2:17)
I will carry out my plan for you.  (Jeremiah 29:11)
I will return for you and bring you home.  (Revelation 22:20)

Trust is the only way to bridge the gap between “I will” and “you.” If rest involves trust, then rest must be about relationship. Trust is the glue that holds relationships together.  As we trust Jesus to capture our wild hearts, insecurity is ushered out and a quiet rest settles inside us instead. Our impulse to run is slowly replaced by a desire to cling.

Rest isn’t something we learn to do; it's Someone we learn to trust.

May we search long and hard and deep, knowing we will always find Him faithful and trustworthy and true. May we recognize that living in relationship with a gentle Savior is the only cure for our restless hearts.

Because Jesus loves you,


Friday, October 16, 2015

The Beautiful Ordinary

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

She leans over her windowsill and carefully counts twelve new blooms as I braid her long, blond hair. Deep purple petals spread out from the tiniest yellow centers. Every morning, she sings over them. The song varies day to day, but it’s usually one she’s made up on her own. I tell her that her voice will help her plant grow. I’m not even sure if that’s true, but my mom told me something similar, and it’s stuck with me ever since. It seems like something worth passing on. When I was her age I had an African violet, too. I lived in Africa, so I mistakenly assumed they were indigenous. I had no idea this common plant was so ordinary.  All I could see was beauty in this thing I nurtured. I was a quiet girl, so I often wonder if my mom’s suggestion to speak to my plant was a disguised effort to coax my voice out of hiding. My mom taught me much more than how to care for a plant; she taught me to embrace the beautiful ordinary by watching God move in the small moments of life.

Tucked away inside the smallest, most ordinary occurrence is a beautiful God making Himself known.

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