Serving from rest

THEREFORE -
{because you have everything you need
from a heavenly Father who loves you
and hears your requests} -
“THEREFORE, whatever you want men to do to you,
do also to them…”
Matthew 7:12

We are free to serve when we realize that our needs are met in Him.

I want to serve from a place of resting in His grace and not my performance.

When Israel wandered so long, it was because of disobedience, fueled by unbelief. We can guess it was their natural response, to be distrustful of a Good Master who promised rest in a new land and freedom from the unending making of bricks. When all you’ve known is slavery and quotas, you get nervous with a seeming idleness.

When we don’t believe God is good and gracious and that He knows our needs before we even have a hunger pang, we tend towards disobedience. We scramble for manna as an insurance against want. We grumble about the better life we could have and forget the marks of slavery, the harsh task masters, the unbearable work load. We don’t believe the concepts of rest and trust, because everything comes by hard work.

We can’t serve from a place of rest when we are so concerned about our own particular needs.

If I give, where will the groceries come from?

If I go, who will take care of what I leave behind?

If I am vulnerable, who will cover the broken mess of me that will be exposed?

Most fear – maybe all of it – is rooted in unbelief. We don’t believe our needs are significant enough to merit God’s attention, or we don’t believe what His word says about seeking first His kingdom and gaining all we need along the way. We don’t believe what we have is enough, is a gift, is for others, is for His glory.

We don’t believe and we don’t enter His rest.

And because this is the case, in a world where everyone’s deity says to do, do, do, the God of Israel says to stop. The air we breathe of this fallen world is anxiety: Keep busy and stay nervous. And it’s into this mess, striking through the smog like flashes of lightening, the fundamental message of God’s salvation resounds: Trust me and rest.”   Jonathan Parnell, desiringgod.org

*****

I want to serve from a place of resting in His grace and not my performance.

So when the opportunity to serve comes and I look at my dirty floor, the burgeoning pile of laundry, the dust and dishes and duties I’d have to leave behind, it’s a choice to walk out of the slavery of serving my own  glory.

In an interview with Kat Lee, Elisa Pulliam says that our overflowing laundry baskets are signs of a life lived. Serving from rest might mean we let the house go for a time in order to keep up with the time that is going, the kids that are growingand the real life that needs servants and not slaves.

And we look at the laundry piles as evidence that real life is happening here.

I want to serve my family and friends and complete strangers from the gifts God has given me, not from some gifting I’m greedily grasping at, one that is not my own but another’s. The restless run in dizzy circumference around Christ, the center, and they gobble up the works meant for others, and we all lose that way.

Serving from rest means knowing opportunity when it comes and recognizing the good works prepared beforehand, because the Church is not a many-headed bride. Some serving is for hands and feet and hearts sitting still.

When I look at the ways others are serving and compare my service with theirs, it’s hard to rest. Someone is always doing more, doing different, doing better.

I want to serve from the rest that comes from pleasing Christ first, others second, myself last. And the crazy contrast is this list that doesn’t leave me last but circles around again and again – Christ, others, me, Christ, others, me, Christ…all my needs are met in Him.

 *****

We just finished our church’s weekend-long Creation Camp, where 100 or so kids camped out for 2 days and nights, played water games, did skits, learned new songs and dances, and are were generally bathed in Jesus and His love.

For the first time in 17 years I had no responsibilities at camp. None. I showed up only a few times to check on my youngest and to deliver missing gear to my other children.

did donate my three oldest children as counselors/sign makers/garbage emptiers/general help. But I was able to come and go as I pleased with no one depending on me at all. It was a mix of guilt and pleasure.

I rested from serving, I suppose.

Other posts in this series:

From a Place of Rest

Parenting From Rest

 

Desire

I have a child who is the silent-type.

One thing I know about the silent-types: just because the lips aren’t moving doesn’t mean the mind isn’t churning. Sometimes everything lines up just right and words come up from the deep, feelings and thoughts and dreams. Desires.

I am floored at the depth, and also scared by the holiness, of thoughts that percolated so long.

The children always see it how it is, silent-type or not, and adults rarely give them credit for this.

desire-2

I want to walk fearless but I bumble along and the silent-type sees. Maybe more than others, silent-types see your mistakes and what I fear is that down in the recesses of memory, all that is stored are the mistakes.

I appreciate the silence though, in regards to my multiple failings.

The one desire that keeps me most humble is that my children would walk in the truth. That they would love more than I love, serve more than I serve, live more than I live.

And the fear of all my mistakes can threaten to temper that desire.

I fear that my life might be an inoculation against real faith – that a lukewarmness would settle over silently and no heat would rekindle the flame of a mother’s prayer -

that they would walk in the truth;

that they would long for Jesus more than anything;

that their life would not be too safe or too dry or too sterile.

But I don’t live out of fear and can’t love out of a desire for perfection – in myself or others. I can only bumble, stumbling, getting up again to the bumpy road.

It’s a fearful thing to love someone so much. It’s a godly fear that keeps me in repentance. It’s hope that doesn’t disappoint, even a hope that my children will climb the mountains of my mistakes and see more clearly through lessons they’ve seen me learn.

I’m so thankful for the mutual sanctification that comes in a family.

For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. {3Jo 1:3-4 NKJV}

Writing with Amanda on these prompts for July.

Soft

I’m at the kitchen sink cutting flowers when she asks me to help post some pictures. She wants to sell her comforter, make room for something new and something she’s picked just for herself.

Selling her comforter is good stewardship and worth the effort, but not my effort. Not today when I’m in the middle of a thousand things, important things like cutting flowers, when the table is strewn with a year’s worth of school books and the floor is dusted with a week’s worth of dirt.

I’m irritable when things aren’t simple and rarely, very rarely, is anything ever simple with the blasted computer.

This inner conflict is welling inside me because I want to want to help. I want to be the patient mom teaching her daughter how to post a picture online and write a nice, concise description, choose a fair price, and hope for a buyer. I want to want to drop everything to help my child.

I want to do those things, but not right now.

soft soft-5 soft-4 soft-3 soft-2

I want to encourage my daughter for taking the initiative and trying to do this on her own, but inside I’m battling frustration.  I’m fighting down words and nailing shut the doors where selfish beasts have decided they could live.

I start to say it out loud. I’m really struggling right now because I hate…I’m so frustrated by…I get so mad when we try to sell things online. I don’t want to deal with ebay and shipping and loading pictures and… And it all sounds so stupid and childish oozing out between the cracks in the door I thought was nailed tight.

The soft and gentle answers I want to give are smothered and murderously trampled by the beasts gone wild.

The flowers stand together in a jar and I hear my own heavy sighs run away, am disgusted with my own childish behavior, and force back the beasts of My Schedule and My Plans and My House – those brutes who reduce me to checking boxes.

The pictures load seamlessly, the description is short and sweet. We’ve decided Craigslist is the best option (avoid the shipping hassle, please) and in no time at all the ad is placed, and all that’s left is to hope.

Sometimes there’s work to be done on our part before the hope has room to root. The work of mothering and living and just being a kingdom-being happens so much in our hearts, where dragons are still breathing fire and no knights come to rescue, save One.

We spurn the One who comes sometimes because the way He slays dragons seems like the death of our Selves, our precious and busy Selves. We want the dragons gone, want the beasts locked away behind dungeon doors. But a beast caged is always a beast fighting to be free.

And oh how I can be the beast.

I still don’t understand the whole inner-conflict that goes on when someone else’s desires collide, headlong and head strong, with my own. I don’t understand how a woman 38 years in the making can revert so quickly to a selfish child.

Sin is a deceiver and hardener of hearts, for certain.

I take hope in the fact that I want to want to, even if I just don’t want to right now. I want to give soft answers and be a soft heart and have a soft presence, even when all is hard.

The beasts of Self and Schedule may yet live to fight another day, but victory comes in steps.

Thank you, Amanda, for daily prompts to find the groove.

 

 

Parenting from rest

Life goes so much better when I’m rested.  The burning eyes and pounding heart of too-little-sleep make me excessively crabby, not so pleasant to be around. Coffee is no help at this point. Coffee only accentuates frayed nerves.

Lately I’ve been getting more rest, or maybe just resting better, and it really does wonders.

It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For  so He gives His beloved sleep. ~ Psalm 127:2 NKJV

On this theme of rest again, I’ve been contemplating parenting.

rest

When my kids were younger I liked to have a lot of rules in place, a lot of rewards and consequences and everything spelled out in black and white. This seemed like the easiest way to produce order and obedience, and to influence consistency on my part.

If I could just put the right rules in place, everything would fall into order and decisions would be automatic and peace would come. Right?

If love covers a multitude of sins, more rules only uncover what is lurking, waiting to pounce, eager to devour our orderly little lives. I finally learned this – probably more by frustration with not having my rules followed than by wisdom – but parenting from a list of shoulds and should-nots only increased my anxiety.

Shortening everything down to Love God, Love your Neighbor  has increased my ability to rest.

Parenting from rest must come from a security in God’s work in myself and my children, from a daily throwing of myself and all my expectations at His feet.

But there are still insecurities.

The way my child is behaving at this moment is not necessarily indicative of the adult they will become. That’s the fear I sometimes have, that the tantrum they are throwing or the fit they’re pitching is exactly how they’re going to respond at 30 when someone cuts them off on the freeway. Or that the selfishness/crabbiness/slothfulness of today is going to be the poverty of their adult years.

My children have moods and struggles and immature ways of dealing with dislikes and disappointments. I am mindful of them, I correct them, and I realize that I was that little girl thrashing her legs on the bed in a rage of 9 year-old fury. I was that teenager in her room with the door firmly shut to reason, the young adult who forgot to be thankful for gracious opportunities.

I only have to reflect on my own behavior, past and present, to realize the work of grace in each of us. Looking at my children’s behavior today and projecting it into their future only accentuates my rule-keeping, anxious, white-washing tendencies.

I have to rest in the process God is taking us all through, none of us born mature or complete, all of us on a path of sanctification.

It is vain to stay up late with worry, to be anxious about things beyond my control, or to provide such a safe life that my children are unable to think for themselves. Our teenagers may feel like we try to keep them home 24/7, but they are stretching their borders more and more.

My husband and I are frequently bombarded with can I go? questions and dilemmas about new technology, books, friends. Every question is an opportunity to teach our kids to have dominion over those things that have the potential to overtake them.

Our tendency might be fear, but being afraid of new things or scared of change only handicaps us from taking charge.

Fear gives that thing power over me. Rest enables me to be secure, and when I parent from a place of rest I am in the place of authority and stewardship God has given me – no more, no less.

Rather than simply being a reactor to all of life’s curves and disappointments, parenting from rest reminds me that it is God who is in control.

O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. {Psalms 16:5-9 NKJV}

What aspect of parenting causes you the most anxiety? What ways are you learning to parent from a place of rest?

Bringing words under subjection {Sonnet}

I’m trying to find my groove again, after over-burdening myself with writing commitments that were good  but not the best. 

I like to tease my husband about learning to say no. When you’re a handy-man with great wisdom and spiritual insight, like he is, you can live with the phone attached to your ear and your hands may never rest from the abundance of good things you can do.

My problem is not one of being too-handy or wise with counsel. My problem is a brain that thinks it can handle more than my coffee pot can keep up with. Or, to be more spiritual, wanting to do things that God hasn’t necessarily called me to.

But He always teaches me in it, because nothing is wasted in His economy.

I have no regrets from the commitments I took on actually, and I have no regrets from stepping away. It was a great relief when my phone told me Tuesday, “Article due today”, to push cancel and laugh in the face of a deadline that no longer had authority to suck life out of me.

I’m just not a prolific writer, not a fast one or a newsy one or one who writes best under pressure. The best lesson I’ve learned from a season of deadlines is that I have to carefully choose the areas of my life where I need pressure.

Writing is not one of them, at this point.

So in trying to find my groove again, I’ve re-visited some writing prompts here. A groove occurs from following the same path again and again, so you may see more of these in the days to come.

Sonnet

Today’s is sonnet.

How appropriate.

A sonnet is a beautiful, but ordered and very specific, thing. Very specific rules. Very limited space. A poem of 14 lines.

A sonnet takes the beauty of words, meter and scale, rhythm and rhyme, and disciplines them all into obedience.

It’s so the opposite of what my writing has been lately, but order and beauty go together well even if a rebellious spirit wants to be free. Order and beauty bring all of life, all the kingdom, all the wild and the free, into a place where well-laid plans meet spontaneous song and dance. Merging, growing, laying down rails on something that could be dangerous if unchecked.

Sonnet.

It’ll take a little discipline, a little finagling and goal refining, but I’ll bring words under subjection and maybe something beautiful will happen after all.

 

 

From a Place of Rest

There are reoccurring themes in life, things that God repeats in His ever-patient way, and it does me good to stop and reflect on them. Especially those times when I hear something on the radio, then read it a random book, later I find it in scripture, and then again on a blogpost.

Lately  it’s been this:

Teaching from a place of rest.

Parenting from a place of rest.

Serving from a place of rest.

Living from a place of rest and security, instead of anxiety and worry.

Writing things out helps me process and is really one of the best ways I’ve found to truly understand something – so I write not from a place of expertise, but as an adventure of figuring it out as I go.

I hope by the end I’ll have a better grasp.

*****

Beauty is important.

Efficiency is good, but true beauty lasts so much longer than multi-tasked items on your list.

Beauty is a quality that speaks to me about rest more than any other. Jesus’ words in Matthew 11 are about the beautiful, the lowly and gentle, the rest that comes from being in the yoke of Christ.

come to me

All you who labor and are heavy laden.

The heavy-weighted burden of working hard for a better life, the shoulders laden with an exhaustion that rule-making and keeping and following brings, and the slogging through a life that is meant to be seen for beauty, all of those burdens we are invited to dump at the feet of Jesus.

I will give you rest. 

Not a better set of rules. Not 12 steps to live by. Not just margin at the edges of what keeps you busy. Jesus offers a rest through life in Him that doesn’t guarantee all the stresses of a normal life won’t afflict you, but rather, a rest that puts all that matters securely in His hands and perspective.

The greatest crime of busy-ness may be that it keeps us from seeing what is beautiful in our everyday life. It sucks up so much of our imaginative power to be busy beyond the point of rest – real, fruitful, mind and spirit refreshing rest – that we lose sight of the gift of beauty God has given each of us.

It takes imagination, and we are too busy for that.

Sloth is… a busy-ness that veils us from the difficulty of actually thinking about what our purpose is.

- Andrew Kern, Teaching from a State of Rest 

Come. To. Me.

It’s an invitation into a life of rest, where we work the works He has prepared beforehand and in them, find rest.

I am gentle and lowly in heart. 

And did Jesus not have the whole weight of the world on His shoulders? Did He not have reason to be heavy laden, to be overwhelmed with the labor of birthing righteousness into a world of sin and rules and burdens that never brought us peace?

And still He was gentle and lowly in heart.

I don’t think He sets an example that is out of reach to us. I know we are mere mortals, but He, being fully God, offers to teach us from a place of gentleness and tenderness.

Whatever His yoke may be, His invitation in it is to learn from Him and He assures us His gentle guidance and tender mercies.

Rest for your souls.

I just need to breathe that in.

Exhale the heavy burdens you carry in your soul and think about the rest He has already given you there, if you are in Christ.

SOUL || the seat of the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires

Jesus offers a rest in the deepest place. In the calloused-over and hidden parts, He offers to release us from the burdens we struggle to carry because we feel like we need to try harder, work harder, and fret more.

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How does the rest that Jesus offers translate to our parenting? Our teaching? Our serving?

No really – I’m asking. I’m not finished with this and your thoughts and insights are part of the reason for this public ‘adventure’ of writing to figure out what I believe. So chime in, if you feel so inclined.

Adventures are better with friends.

 

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