Rest For Your Soul

Every day, it happens. Usually several times, and almost always during a rare moment of relaxation. The little nag inside my head gives me a poke and says, “You should be doing more.”

“You’ve made a summer schedule. When’s the last time you looked at it? It’s almost July, and you haven’t done a single math game with the kids! And how about the towers of outgrown clothes in the shed – the ones you said you’d sort through this summer? Still towering. Oh, and the kitchen cabinets? Nope, still haven’t learned to clean themselves. WHY ARE YOU SITTING DOWN? Snap to it, young lady!”

And then…a gentler voice. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

But…the Nag is right – those are things I really need to do! They would help our household run more efficiently, enable me to be more patient, educate my children. I mean, some days I don’t even get them out of their pajamas. I have to get on top of all this. I need to get it all together, and every moment lost represents one more step down the road to failure. Back to work – now!

Then once again, like the voice of a mother soothing a frantic child, another reminder from God’s Word gently calms me: “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:14)

And the more I reflect, the more I realize that God never tells us to hurry – or to be superheroes. Instead, He invites us to “find rest for [our] souls” (Matthew 11:28), and promises that “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock…He will gently lead the nursing ewes” (Isaiah 40:11).

If we look around, we will always find something that needs to be done. Or, at least, would be helpful; an improvement on the way things are. And if we allow ourselves to believe that things won’t be “right” until we get through our to-do list…we will never stop. Yet, when I remember that God knows my weakness – not just intellectually, but experientially, as the One who came in the flesh to live with us, as one of us – I realize that many of these demands and deadlines are self-imposed.

I don’t mean to suggest that we should just be indolent; we can find plenty of Scripture that endorses the value of work, and the importance of making the most of what God has given us in the form of time, talent, and even material things. When we cross over into perfectionism and workaholism, though, we doom ourselves to frustration, exhaustion, and failure, setting ideals for ourselves that God never demands.

Does God call us to honor Him with our lives? Absolutely. BUT…does He fold His arms and tap His foot impatiently every time I let a day get away from me…let the clothes pile up for a few days (or weeks) too long…neglect to follow through on a consequence the children have been told to expect for breaking a certain rule? Goodness, no. God’s grace covers and redeems all my failures, real or imagined; “His lovingkindnesses never fail. They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

And so I remind myself anew to take one day at a time. To remember that some things can wait until tomorrow. To gratefully accept the gift of rest that God has given us. And to revel, every day, in His crazy, unimaginable grace.

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