Monday, October 21, 2013

To the Weary, Rest

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!
-John Newton

Soothing words, comforting words, gracious words, words of life and peace. Words of rest . . . it was one of those days, those days of “struggling” through, of waiting until quarter to nine to put the baby to sleep, and breathing a sigh of relief when I finally laid her in her crib. Sometimes the soul craves rest more than other times. Sometimes it reaches out for peace and that sense of security that only comes from the throne of grace, and sometimes it feels like you’re groping in the dark. Sometimes I have to struggle for peace and sometimes my attitudes of worry and frustration and fear only go, as Oswald Chambers says, by “kicking.” Peace can’t live next to agitation; the clods of the soul need to be broken and raked over, and the soil tilled. Only then can the sweet seeds of peace be sown.

Sometimes I need to ask myself--Is Jesus really my peace or am I looking for comfort in anything and everything but Him? And am I content in the day-to-day situations that He places me in, or is there always an undercurrent of frustration?

Having a child changes everything. You no longer have “free time,” time to spend alone in solitude (at least not for very long), time to journal as often, time to pray without interruption. I used to write in a journal almost every day; now I look months back to see where my last entry has been.

Everyone needs an outlet, or so “they” say . . . the proverbial “they.” You need time to yourself with no interuptions, “free” time, time to kick back and relax and let someone else take care of things for you.

My “outlet” used to be cleaning or weeding the garden. I feel relaxed when I clean and like it when things are being put back in “order”.

Now, I Iook around my room and there is a pair of pink-Debbie-socks on the floor, a pile of laundry waiting to be put away, dust in places that I never imagined possible, and various other miscellaneous items.

Never before would my uptight person have stood for this, but now, there are weightier things to contend with and the mess can be gradually dealt with on a day-to-day basis. If I need to fold the laundry perfectly, then I might not be able to read as many books to my daughter. So I do what is most important, and then leave the rest to grace, picking things up along the way and sometimes just laughing when I can’t keep up and then doing it later.

Sometimes you need to give up your “outlet.” Sometimes you can’t hand the child to someone else when you are overwhelmed and you just need to cry out to God for His grace in your present need. Many times, for me, frustration is a means to escape, a chance to let someone else deal with what has been given to me. I complain to evoke a response and then I go away and sulk while someone else picks up the pieces. “Children are a treasure from the Lord” . . . until their teeth are coming in, or they are fussy and cranky, until they are sick and whiny and tired.

So we look for comfort . . . we feel frustrated, we feel overwhelmed, so we look for an outlet, in whatever form it may take. Maybe a glass of wine (if you are someone who drinks), maybe a shopping trip or a spending “indulgence,” maybe a plate of cookies, maybe turning on the TV or watching a favorite movie.

And there is nothing wrong with any of those things, per se, but if I am looking for comfort in any of them or seeking to escape from my problems through them, rather than depending upon the God of all Comfort, then I am worshiping a different god, a strange god, a god who “heals the wound” slightly and makes me feel better only for the moment.

When the movie is over, when the cookies are gone, when the husband is frustrated that he’s been handed the baby for too long, when the credit card bill comes in, then the emptiness comes back, with a dull ache that wasn’t there before. Because now we must face whatever we were running from, without our little god to hide behind. And nothing about our circumstances has changed; the same frustration and angst are there and they won’t easily be sent away.

Now I am not saying that there is never a time that we can take a break from the "daily grind," or step away from a situation to find respite and peace and refreshment. What I am saying is that we shouldn't be dependent upon these outward escapes for our sense of well-being; our dependence should be upon the Lord, who at times, will refresh us through whatever means He allows in our lives. Otherwise, we come to need/depend upon these other avenues of satisfaction rather than Him alone Who gives all good and refreshing things.

Having a child sometimes “forces” one to realize that there are times when you cannot run away from a situation. Sometimes you have to take care of the kids when you feel so sick that you can’t stand up or so tired that you don’t think that you can keep your eyes open or have the energy to cook dinner. Another life is dependent upon you and you can’t drop the ball and take a nap.

Having children is an opportunity to build “tensile strength,” as Elisabeth Elliot calls it, an opportunity to learn discipline and perseverance and sacrifice in ways that you never may have imagined.

And it is worth it . . . raising a child in the love and the fear and the reverence of the Lord Jesus is worth it, and there are no regrets. It is worth the forfeited trip, the lack of showers, the dirty laundry, the fragmented times of prayer that somehow the Father picks up and hears and answers. And He “giveth more grace” when the burden is heavier . . .

It is getting late, and I hear the sweet sound of the crickets and feel the dark, lovely night wind and I know that He is here. His presence soothes and I am safe, without any outlet but Him. “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” and His gentle love anoints my head with grace.

Photo credit: <a href="">Peewubblewoo</a> / <a href="">Foter</a> / <a href="">Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)</a>

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