Rest

In today’s society REST is a four-letter word. Everybody, and every body, needs it, but no one wants to admit they took it. People almost feel the need to apologize for taking time off. My students use a resource in class, an article titled “Toxic Work World” by Anne Marie Slaughter in The New York Times, which speaks to this issue. It talks about a work culture that requires more and more time at work even if it is not quality work in order to not only succeed, but sometimes to even keep your job. It is a culture that frowns on taking vacation days. If there is a family emergency, many people are afraid to take off time to take care of things in fear of losing their jobs. We have taken competition to an extreme level to the point stress and anxiety are at epidemic levels. What is to be done?

Isaiah 30:15 says, “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”

A writer pointed out that people have written sermons and devotionals by the thousands on the subject of returning or repentance, but very few talk about the second part: “In returning and rest shall ye be saved.”Even God took a day off. On the seventh day he rested. We even take the Sabbath as a day to be busy, running from one thing to another.

We need to take time to rest at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, and just soak up His presence. We need to draw from the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to reflect on Our Father’s blessings.

The Christian walk is a journey, not a competition. Everyone who completes the race is a winner, but, like any journey, we need to take breaks along the way to sleep, to eat, and to rest. Otherwise, we will run out of fuel and be forced to stand still. So, take time to rest…mentally, physically, and spiritually. Ask God and he will give you rest for your soul. Then, you will be prepared to be his example in a world of people who long for what He has to offer.

 

One Step at a Time

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by something on your To Do List? You know it needs to be done, and there may even be a deadline approaching, but you just can’t seem to get started? I have several of those projects staring me in the face. Some days I procrastinate, and some days I can’t even bear to think about them. Today I had great plans for tackling at least one of those projects but was diverted by a problem with my car that took up over half of my morning. One of the biggest issues is planning to do it all, or most of it, in one day. That approach rarely works because of days like today, so we should take a page from Nehemiah’s playbook.

Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. It was a daunting task that two other groups had failed to complete. Nehemiah approached the problem differently than the other groups, and that approach can be applied to any project. First, he started with prayer. There was nothing he did that wasn’t preceded by prayer. Next, he looked at the project objectively from every angle to see what needed to be done. Then, he designated out sections to different groups. Finally, he followed through despite obstacles and opposition.

Starting with prayer is always good advice for any situation we may encounter, but sometimes we don’t think about in when doing practical everyday tasks. God wants to be involved in even the smallest details of our lives.

Looking objectively at a daunting task can be overwhelming at first, but until we get all of the details down, we won’t know exactly what is required or the best way to approach it. It is like cooking a recipe. You need to know what ingredients you need for the recipe to see if you have them all in the kitchen. If not, you need to add a shopping trip to the list.

While you may not have other people helping you with a task, it still helps to break things down into smaller jobs. That way if time is limited, you can still accomplish part of the job. Progress of any kind is still progress.

Finally, it is just a matter of not letting the world and everyday problems get in your way. You have to keep working until the project is done. It may take longer than you first thought, but it doesn’t matter as long as it gets done.

Take advice from Nehemiah and tackle big tasks one step at a time. Don’t let naysayers get you down. Focus on the goal and keep moving. Let God lead and he will help you through step by step until you get to the finish line.

Doing Your Part

We’ve spent Monday nights in April studying the story of Gideon in the book of Judges. One concept that was discussed was fulfilling your role. Gideon was given a battle plan from God. In order for it to work everyone had to take their place and do their part. Like our physical bodies, if one part doesn’t work right, the rest of the body suffers and doesn’t work at its optimum capability. It has to make up for the missing or damaged part.

At the same time we were doing the Bible study, I have been working for a company online. During my shifts, there are managers who monitor the work. In previous years, I either ignored their presence or got irritated or discouraged when they gave me feedback, especially when it was negative feedback. I took it personally and got frustrated. I wanted to quit.

I also teach online and get frustrated when I give students feedback and they ignore it, or they get defensive. I am only trying to help them improve their writing and their grade. I’m just doing my job. Why aren’t they listening? I tried to make it clear that I was here to help. All they had to do was ask, but they rarely sought help or applied the help I tried to give in feedback.

It hit me that the monitors were also only doing their job and trying to help me improve and do my best so that the job was done correctly. They were there to give me help if I needed it. All I had to do was ask for their input and listen to their feedback and apply it. Why hadn’t I listened?

The Holy Spirit also works to give us feedback. He lets us know whether or not we are doing our job and doing it so that it will be most effective. The problem is we often don’t listen because we don’t want to do the job, or we take the constructive criticism too personally and get our feelings hurt. We each have a job to do for the Kingdom. If we don’t do it, the church has to take up our slack and suffers for it.

What is your job? Are you working to the best of your ability or are you refusing to do the work? Are you an employee of the month or a slacker? Doesn’t God deserve our very best effort? It’s time to find the job you were meant for and become the person you were meant to be…me included.

#LessonsfromGideon