Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. – Psalm 116:7
Covered in 3 blankets, wearing my winter coat and hat, holding a bottle of hot water to my chest and I’m still freezing. Outside my home it was 45 degrees. Inside my home it was a thrifty 67. Yet my internal body temperature was 104. If anything has the ability to get your attention — 104 written in small digital letters on a thermometer will do it. As I lay there that Wednesday night at 5 p.m. I realized two things: #1 I wasn’t going to go back to lead an evening meeting as I had planned to do. #2 God was getting my attention.
It had been a long and demanding season. There is always the usual busyness of work, family and church responsibilities that we all have. But this was one of those “extra” seasons. There was the “extra” burden of a coworker’s death this summer. There was the “extra” stress of discovering and dealing with the theft in our church community. Life doesn’t stop for the extra things that happen and neither did I. I ran hard. I did everything I could to make things better. I tried to help as many people as possible. I tried to calm and soothe as many painful situations as I could find. And now I’m lying in my bed, freezing with a fever. I had been able to avoid rest for months, but finally on that early Wednesday evening, it was clear. I was done and I could only blame myself.
God was saying again, “find rest for your soul.” Rest has never come easy for me. Finding rest meant that I would have to stop running from one activity to another, from one responsibility to another. I would need to stop chasing the temptation to fix everything I could, as quickly as I could, whenever I could get a free moment. I would need to hang up my superhero cape and again become a follower of the Messiah, not trying to be a messiah myself.
My act of faith is to stop, to pause, to slow down. Trusting God looks like returning to the practices of reading Scripture, resting from work (Sabbath), and connecting to God in prayer. It might not seem like that requires much faith, but when you feel stressed and lost, overwhelmed and behind, stopping to pray requires both faith and discipline. It requires that I trust God to provide in the places and spaces that I cannot. I am invited to live with the conviction that God is good and kind and loving and powerful. And if that is so, then I can find rest for my frantic soul.
So I talked with my wife and made some practical plans.
- I won’t listen to my car radio until I’ve prayed for wherever I’m going next.
- I will read a devotional at my desk before I start each work day
- I will take a 24-hour break from work email, meetings and assignments every week.
Like so many of the stories to be recorded in this book, this ending is yet to be determined. But the best stories always end without a conclusion. The great stories always go on!