Monday, November 08, 2010

Finding Rest in God Alone

This is my little Easton snoozing...this kid knows how to rest. Especially in his own bed. When we are somewhere else, the picture isn't quite like this.

I know a little girl who has a unique gift. Her family came over one night and as it got later into the night, we put our kids to bed and their daughter played on the ground. She was literally playing one minute while we were talking and the next minute we looked over and she was completely out. Snoozin' for a brusin'. She was laid out on her back, arms and legs stretched out, mouth open, enjoying her dreams. We all had a good laugh and then her mom told me that she does this all the time and she can do it anywhere. I was a bit envious, wishing my children had that same gift. Oh, how lovely would it be if my kids could actually sleep in the car, at church, at a friend's house when we are there late. Think about the eternal implications! This girl could be an amazing missionary! I love it.

"My soul finds rest in God alone." Psalm 62:1

As I was thinking about finding rest in God, I began to ponder what other places we find rest. I remembered this little girl. She found rest everywhere. In that aspect, amazing! In the context of our souls...not so good. Our souls don’t often find rest in God alone, they often find rest in wherever seems most desirable at the moment. They seek out other places to find rest. Our hearts attempt to find rest in things, people, places other than in God alone.

Where our hearts rest is a reflection of what our hearts and souls are worshipping. God created us to worship and serve Him and to experience an intimate relationship with Him. Adam and Eve severed that relationship at the Fall and their hearts longed for something else to worship. Ever since then, we have worshipped many things. Deception is real and our hearts fall for it all the time, leading us to seek fulfillment in things we think we can control, things meant to serve us that we eventually come to serve.

So, since you are reading this, and I have your attention, here's a few questions: what are you serving? What is your heart clinging to? Is it beauty, power, influence, money, achievement, recognition, social standing? Is it a blessing from God that you have made into an idol, like your husband or your children, motherhood, homemaking?

Or… do you cling to God himself and the peace he offers when you find your security in Him? Your soul finds true rest when your life, everything you do, flows out of the faith you have in Him.

You may be in a place where you are seeking rest in God PLUS other things. Or you may be in a place where your aren’t or you have never found rest in God. "What is REST?", you're thinking.

We have a perception of idols as something we actually bow down to...something bronze or golden, a statue or altar, but let me be idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”

So, what was the first thing that popped in your head? What are you striving after?

Is it a blessing from God that you have exalted? Certainly I've been there. Often our idols are good things but our hearts turn them into ultimate things and put them in the place of God. And the greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. We find ourselves turning to that thing or person instead of to God.

What thing or person do you turn to? You may be expecting your needs to be met there instead of in God. But the truth is, those things don’t satisfy. They are all false promises that say, “if only, then…” They don’t lead to true rest or satisfaction. After reading this verse in Jeremiah it seems silly that we would strive for these drips of "goodness" instead of turning to the Fountain of life and love.

"My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. " Jeremiah 2:13

I’ll give you an example. One I’m not too proud of. But I do want to model humility. Last year was a hard year for me. I became a pastor’s wife. Became a part of a brand new church. Had a baby. Added on to our house. New expectations I inflicted upon myself. Had 3 kids, 3 and under. Enough said, right? I could have written it off to circumstances for sure.

I was having a hard time coping with the stress and I began to rely too heavily on Allen. Everything he said and didn’t say completely rocked me. If he told me I looked beautiful and commented about my work around the house, it was a good day. If he failed to mention something important going on at church that I felt I should know about, it was a bad day. If he encouraged me or wanted my input, all was well. If he failed to notice all that I had to offer him, the kids, the church, my day was ruined. At that point in my life, security was an idol that I was trying to find in Allen instead of in God. I wasn’t allowing him to be human. If he fell short, I was appalled because I was expecting perfection from him.

But God, in His mercy, allowed me to see that what is supposed to be a blessing, my husband, had become an idol to me. And He redeemed the whole thing by opening my eyes to see that, as my husband falls short, it becomes a wonderful reminder of a God who will never fall short. And He showed me GRACE. Amazing grace.

"He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage." Psalm 55:18

“He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?” Rom 8:32.

He freely gives us all things because He loves us, but we have to keep from clutching those things (our blessings) too tightly and becoming enslaved to them. The battle is all around us...for our souls, our marriages, our children, our security...We have to know and rest assured of God’s love and delight in us so that we can rest our hearts in Him for our significance, security and anything that happens in this life.

His love is evident as you look to the cross. That’s where you’ll see that God did not withhold his only son from us. God can be both just (demanding payment for our sin) and justifier (providing salvation and grace) because He provided his son as the ultimate sacrifice. We can never be great, secure, significant, confident by trying harder, but by believing in the Savior who lived and died for us out of his infinite love and holiness. This makes it absolutely certain that he loves you.

So that's settled. Now the tricky to live every day, every moment in that truth. A famous preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones has this quote,
“ Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to  yourself instead of preaching to yourself?”

What he means is that we listen to ourselves, our emotions and feelings and let those things overwhelm us instead of preaching truth to ourselves. You know what I mean.

Example: Your friend makes an inconsiderate comment that you replay over and over again in your head. Your feelings are hurt and you come to the conclusion after a few hours of mulling it over that she completely hates you and wants nothing to do with you, you are an awful friend and no one would ever want to be friends with you, you are basically unlovable. Okay, maybe you aren't as extreme as me, but let’s take that example and preach to ourselves instead. This is what that might look like, “I am sure she didn’t mean it that way. The truth is she has always been a good friend to me, I have no reason to doubt her and I want to assume the best about her intentions. I have always been a faithful friend to her and have much to offer to our relationship.” See the difference? The second one is preaching truth to yourself instead of listening to lies or worrying about the unknown, saving you much mental stress and offering you peace.

I have four basic truths that have revolutionized the way I preach to myself. These will offer rest from the battle we have going on in our heads and in our souls (these come straight from You Can Change, a book I heartily recommend reading and going through with a small group)

  1. God is great – so we do not have to be in control.
When we worry, become easily irritated and frustrated, we are not trusting God’s sovereign control. We are trying to take control ourselves and frustrated when things don’t go the way we planned. He can use even the minor inconveniences to grow you.

  1. God is glorious – so we do not have to fear others.
Is craving the approval of people or fearing their rejection a controlling factor in your life? The bible calls this “fear of man.” Some symptoms of this could be: overcommitment because you can’t say no, fear of being exposed, small lies to make yourself look good, jealousy, envy, depression, anxiety, or comparison. The answer to fear of man is fear of God. Meditate on God’s greatness, beauty, holiness, grace, mercy, and love. Recognize whose approval really matters to you.

  1. God is good – so we do not have to look elsewhere.
Often we look elsewhere because the results are immediate and we don’t have to wait. Sin is real, it's pleasurable, and God is distant. But the truth is that the joy we experience in this life is but a shadow of the source of all our joy, God. If we would begin to think beyond the moment, we would see that there is no use looking elsewhere.

  1. God is gracious – so we do not have to prove ourselves.
We often feel we need to vindicate ourselves, we need to be proved right in a certain situation. Or we need to do good things to prove ourselves to God, as if Jesus isn’t enough. Maybe you are confident of your justification before God on the last day. But what about today and tomorrow and the next day? Are you still trying to prove yourself? Trying to do enough to be considered a "good Christian?" Rest in God, who no matter how far we’ve strayed (like the prodigal son), welcomes us home with open arms, embracing, welcoming and honoring us. Jesus has done all that’s required. If you have trusted Jesus, there’s no need to be busy proving yourself, trying to earn blessing and performing to earn favor.

You may think you already know those things. You probably do if you've ever been in a good church. You know it in your head at least. Do your actions prove that you know those things? Are you in the habit of preaching those things to yourself?

Whenever we know these things and our actions prove we know these things (as we preach truth to ourselves), we find rest for our souls in God. We don’t have to worry, strive, prove, be in control, fear, look elsewhere, we can simply rest in His truth.

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  1. This is great...i love hearing your heart on all of this and all of it is just oh so true! Thank you- Love to you and see you at chick fil a or target or something :)

  2. Beautiful post. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I had meant to look at that book after you recommended it but had forgotten, so I'm glad you reminded me. We really should get together more; it seems like God is leading us down similar paths right now!

  3. Kenners, I loved this! Thanks for the great reminder :)

  4. Wow - way to preach Kendra! It must run in the family; have you been writing Allen's sermons??? ;)

    Asking myself your question is hard. ("Do your actions prove that you know those things?")

    My actions so often betray my unbelief!

    Just further proof that head knowledge / intellectual assent and personal efforts are not sufficient. I need Jesus.

    Anyway, I needed to read this today. I'm new to preaching to myself & need help. Thank you.


  5. Anonymous3:26 PM

    Nice weblog

  6. Anonymous3:02 AM

    Great post


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