Saturday, December 1, 2007

Finding My Place Of Rest

Dawn Critchley

Even serving God in a place that serves the body of Christ in renewal it is still possible to get dry. We certainly hadn’t planned for our hearts to grow cold, but last year Rob and I noticed it happening gradually over a number of months when life had become busy and we had become so caught up in ‘the doing’ that we had forgotten to just ‘be’ in His presence. Hebrews 3:11-19 says that a hardened heart cannot enter into God’s rest, so we knew that in order to find the rest we were looking for, we would need our hearts to be softened first. The question was how?

It was on New Year’s Eve, that universal time of reflection, when Rob and I took a very thorough look at where we were and decided that we needed to make some life changing resolutions. “What is wrong Lord? What is it that is missing in our lives?” we asked. He answered by calling us to learn to abide in His presence.

We took hold of Jesus’ promise that if we would come to Him weary and heavy laden, He would give us rest. We also asked God to stir a new hunger in our hearts to spend time getting to know Him again. The response we got was almost instant, as if He had been waiting, sitting on the edge of His throne, saying, “I thought you would never ask.”

The following day was a wonderful beginning for us. One of the first things that we felt we needed to do was to dedicate a place in our home to spending time with the Lord. We have called it our “God space”. We employed some creativity in making it a calm, relaxing spot, the kind of place where you would sit and visit with a welcome friend. We could tell immediately that God was pleased, and He started meeting us there. We’ve also taught our children to love our “God space,” and we have had some very precious “family God times” there.

We initially felt that we needed to just soak in God’s presence in order to soften our hearts again rather than striving after Him with an agenda or even a prayer list. Instead of trying to flex our “mighty man of God” prayer muscles, we decided to wait in His presence. Our mornings began with listening to worship music. We allowed the Holy Spirit to wash over us letting the words and music refresh us.

We also discovered the value of putting our love for one another into action by soaking each other in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to come and fill the other with more of Him. As our hearts began to soften more each day, the atmosphere in our home began to change, and it transformed our relationship with our children.

The prayer in that song, “Draw Me After You,” was being answered, and we found ourselves longing for our mornings with Him. Our “God times” would set the tempo for our days. Consequently, we have been able to handle the pressures and stresses of life much more easily because we have been learning to fall back into the Father’s arms and rest in Him.

Our desire is to remain there. Hebrews 4:10 says that if we want to enter into God’s rest, it means resting from works. Rob and I took a thorough look at our lives to determine what works we needed to give up. God-given responsibilities and good works can become an area where we strive to find God’s approval and fall out of rest. We need to see what our Father is doing, to hear what He is asking of us and focus obediently on doing only those things. This has meant that we have had to learn to say “no” even to seemingly good activities so that we don’t miss God’s best for us. It is much easier to hear Him from a place of rest then a place of striving. He promises that if we abide in the Vine who is Jesus and do what we see the Father doing, then we will be fruitful (John 15). Why strive when it only brings weariness and stress with little or no fruit? What a relief it has been for us to learn that we can rest and yet be fruitful. I’m learning that “One handful of rest is better than two fists full of labour and striving.”(Ecclesiates 4:6)

How To Enter God’s Rest
How then, do we remain in a place of rest when life seems to press down on us from all sides? If we make our choices based on God’s values, we are off to a good start. He loves intimacy and has designed us to be intimate with Him. We must seize the time to let Him stengthen us with His reassuring love. When the tyranny of the urgent and unbearable weighs in on us, we must remind ourselves that our right response is to fall back into Him and allow our hearts to trust and confide in Him. Like King David, even in the face of adversity we must value waiting on the Lord and inquiring after His counsel. Rob and I are learning to give up control and trust Him with circumstances daily and are enjoying greater fruitfulness and rest as a result. Our work is more focused and inspired.

In a day when the number of burned-out and stressed-out servants of God is on the rise, the Father is calling us to a better way. He is still saying, “Cease striving and know that I am God,” Isn’t it time for all of His beloved children to find rest in Him?


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