Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Learning to Rest

On August 3rd I had a long conversation with God. I had been seeking Him all summer for some answers and on this day, as I sat in a lovely little coffee shop in Garden Valley, TX; I told God I wasn't leaving without hearing from Him.
That comment in itself was scary enough to me to drive me over the edge.
I was just back from India. I had said "good bye" to my wonderful team the day before. I was jet lagged beyond belief.
But I was determined to wait on God until He showed up.
It gets scarier when you consider what I was seeking God for. The questions I was asking and the decisions I was facing made me tremble with fear. I knew that I had to hear from God, because with out hearing from Him I would never truly know I made the right choice.

Looking back... had I known then what would happen in the weeks that followed I don't know that I would have been so eager to hear from Him. I may have been content to just stay where I was. Thank God that He knew better!

After some intense conversation with God and picking through a passage He gave me until there was nothing left to analyze, I threw myself into the answer He gave me.


I heard Him very clearly call me to a season of rest.

What this looked like for me...

August 24th I officially stepped out of leadership.
Not because of any sin or struggle in my life.
Not because I was tired of being a leader.
Not because I wanted to do my own thing.
I stepped out because I valued my relationship with Jesus more than I did a title or a position.
I stepped out because I wanted to fling myself into the arms of my Savior.
I stepped out because I just wanted to love Jesus.


It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.

It didn't make sense.

But I knew.

Let me teach you how to rest.

I heard Him call me, in the most inner parts of my heart, to rest.

My Lord wanted to teach me how to rest.

In my mind, a season of rest sounded wonderfully pleasant.
Rest was laying on a fluffy, white cloud, singing songs to Jesus.
Rest was a peaceful, calm season where nothing bad happened. I love Jesus, Jesus loves me.
Rest was the next best thing to heaven itself.


In the past couple days I have looked up to the clouds that I am supposed to be floating away on and screamed, "God, what are you doing?! Where are you?! This is NOT what rest is supposed to look like!" more times than I am willing to admit.
In the past couple days I have fought God through many tears.
What do you do when circumstances make it seem like God decided you are the exception and He is not longer going to keep His word to you?

Well, what I do is throw a fit.

I throw a huge fit full of snot, tears, and angry words.

I get in my car and drive 2 hours in one direction screaming and crying the entire way.
Venting all the pain and confusion that is locked up in my heart.
Then I scream at God for not punishing me for my tantrum.

God just whispers,

"I rejoice over the honest expression of your emotions. 
I dance over you when you are fully alive." 

Once I am satisfied that I have let go of the anger, I turn around and drive the 2 hours back home.
(I am convinced I experienced more freedom because of that 2 hour drive back home than I have in any other setting in my life.)

Rest, beloved.
How do you rest when everything you have ever known seems to have been ripped from under you? How do you rest when your heart has been broken into a million pieces. How do you rest when you are shaken to your core?

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." 
And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
And they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" 
And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" 
And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?
And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, 
"Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
-Mark 4:35-41

Beloved, come and rest with me. Take my yoke.
My yoke is easy. My burden is light.
You are safe with me.
Jesus and the disciples left the crowd. They left what they knew.
They entered one of the biggest storms of their lives, and Jesus called them to rest in the middle of it.
Jesus rested. He was so confident in God's ability to sustain that even in the most frightening, dangerous, painful situation he rested. 

Once they crossed the sea and got out the boat Jesus set one man free. 
Then they got back in the boat and crossed back over.
One man.

The storm they endured...
That was so that ONE man could be freed.


Was it worth it?

That storm.
The pain.

Is it worth it?

Abba, change my perspective. 
This storm. It's worth it. For one to be freed. 
For me to be stretched.
For your to be glorified.
It is worth it.

This is not the only story of resting in the storm. (Believe me. I tore the Bible up looking for all I could find.)

My favorite "walking on water" story is in Matthew 14:22-33
You know the story.
Jesus sends the disciple on across the sea while he goes away to pray. 
They start rowing and this huge storm comes up. 
The Bible says that Jesus SAW the storm. 
He walks across the sea to where they are. 
Disciples freak out... It's a ghost! 
Jesus says "Don't panic, It's just me." 

Matthew is the only gospel that talks about Peter walking on water with Jesus.

Peter calls out, "Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you." 
Jesus says, "Okay go for it. I'm right here."

Peter steps out the boat and starts to walk. 

At this point, the storm is still raging on. 
Wind blowing, rain beating down on them... 
I'm sure it was not a pleasant spring shower.

The word says that Peter sees the wind and waves and becomes fearful and begins to doubt. 
When that happened, he began to sink. 
Peter does what any sane human would do... Screams for help!

Jesus reaches out, grabs him, and asks him why he doubted.

Well, Jesus, it's not normal to walk on water...
They get back in the boat together.
The winds and rains stop immediately.

John 6:16-21 adds that as soon as Jesus got in the boat, the storm ended and they arrived at their destination. 

I could take that several different directions, but for now, I'm going to leave it there. 

The point I want to make is back when Peter began to sink.

If you have ever fallen out of a boat, or into a pool you know that something about you has changed when you get out. 
Obviously, you look different... You are soaked.
However, if your sinking was unexpected, you may have lost something you had held pretty close to that point.
A cell phone, fishing pole, sunglasses, flip flop...
Something is different.
Something is missing.

Sinking can be beneficial. 
1. You realize that you need someone to save you and you cling to them.
I'm sure Peter clung to Jesus pretty tightly until his feet were firmly in the boat again.
2. Things like doubt, fear, anger... they get left in the water. 

Abba, Drown my doubt. Drown my fear. Drown my unforgiveness. 
I don't want to come out of these waters the same.
I don't want the wind and waves to stop until I have changed.
Give me grace to rest in this storm.

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