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The story is told of a contest in which the artists were to paint “perfect peace”. Of the many paintings submitted, the judge liked only two. One picture was of a calm lake, perfectly mirroring peaceful towering mountains and a blue sky.
The other picture was of a dark angry sky filled with flashes of lightning. Down the side of the mountain gushed a foaming waterfall. Peering closely, the judge noticed behind the surging water a tiny bush. There a mother bird sat secure on her nest. The judge chose this picture. “Because,” he explained, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.” *
Don’t we long for peace and rest, free from heavy responsibilities and worries? Time to relax and renew our spirits? God does give us these needed times. Even Jesus told His disciples: “Let us go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).
However, Scriptures focus more on resting amid storms and burdens. “Come to Me, all you who are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said (Matthew 11:28).
How can we find that rest?
I can sometimes get tied in knots with worry. Several years ago I was pressured with too many duties and worried about how I would accomplish everything. My devotional reading one morning mentioned a woman who felt the same way—pressured, worried, and exhausted. The Lord whispered to her, “It's not all the work that’s wearing you down, it’s your worries.” (I don’t remember the wisdom or advice God gave her.)
I went on my prayer walk, knowing full well that God didn’t need to remind me of my worries. But what would He say? Hardly had I gone two blocks when He quietly outlined the next steps to break down my projects into manageable pieces. I walked home refreshed and began tackling the next things. I discovered that when we bring our worries to God, He gives us His word: a promise or direction or how to restfully handle our dilemmas. And then we can go on.
Several InScribe bloggers last year also gave us an insight into their agitated spirits and how they found rest and peace.
Sharon Espeseth shared what God was teaching as she cared for her husband. “We may not have all the answers about Hank’s ill health, but we are thankful for what we have.” And then Sharon listed eleven points for praise and thanks—(a “must-read”)! She knew then that giving thanks clears our minds from debilitating fear of the unknown and gives us patience and a rested heart.
When Alan Anderson chose “Rest” for his word of 2020, he posed the question: “What is the answer to all this weariness, this reality of being ‘heavy laden?’ Is there an answer?”
Later in the year he wrote that he was tired, tired, tired. Admitting his weariness, the Lord’s gentle words reminded him of his deep need for Jesus’ promised rest. “This is not an elusive emotional longing, but a stated result of an honest heart after God,” he added. As a writer, Alan found emotional healing and rest when he wrote, giving hope to others in their own grief and hardship. Alan illustrated the principle that doing something engaging and interesting releases our minds and bodies from weariness and tensions. Endorphins pour into our bodies and bring about euphoria and well-being. They help us relax, release energy and productivity. And then we can move forward, fulfilling part of God’s purposes for us.
Pam Mytroen shared: “The stress from my job and family situations had been building like black angry clouds, and swirling into tornadoes of anxiety. After much prayer, the Lord showed me that I was trying to meet everyone's expectations, which was impossible. He showed me that I needed a new mind-set.”
She began to stop thinking about the “what ifs” of job difficulties, to let go of unrealistic expectations, to accept that she can't be perfect and please everyone, to stop worrying about her family, and to be thankful instead. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), Paul said. Brain science is now catching up to what God told us those millennia ago—developing new patterns of thinking regrooves the brain and nervous system with new patterns. But it takes time. Pam added,“Switching one set of thoughts for another takes self-discipline. I am amazed at the freedom and the space in my mind that was once taken up by stress and anxiety.”
My prayer for you is that you’ll discover Jesus’ rest from worries, tiredness, and people’s expectations. Rest to a new mindset, thankfulness, and new steps in God’s purposes for you.
What is it for you?
How has the Lord come to you when you’ve been burdened? What has he taught that you can pass on to others who are careworn?
Or perhaps now you’re struggling with an issue and the Lord is challenging you to enter into rest (Hebrews 4:11). What are you learning?
How do God’s promises in Matthew 11:28-30 (or other scriptures/insights) give you peace and rest in what you have faced and/or are facing?
Tell us your story.
(*Note: This story of a mother bird on her nest in a storm is only one of a number of variations I’ve read.)