“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
It’s been a long day. After a full nights sleep, you rose early, labored at the office for 8 hours or more. Maybe you got a chance to squeeze in a workout. You come home to dinner, time with the family and their night time routine. You have at least an hour of required reading you need to get done, not to mention spend some quality time with your spouse. Did I mention you’re exhausted? All you really want to do is put your feet up and find a good movie to veg out to. You don’t have time for a movie so you settle for 15 minutes of a a show on your DVR before forcing yourself to your books. This is a typical day. You desire a feel-good moment with no responsibility and a break for your mind. But what you really need is rest.
Not sleep, but REST!
We all need it. Our days are full and seem to be getting fuller. This isn’t the first place you’ve read that the more technology we acquire to make life easier the busier we become. In the part of the world I live in it’s popular to work and be busy. It’s not uncommon for someone to work 60, or more, hours a week. Not everyone has a family life, but if you do, these relationships take time and energy. (Hopefully, they are fulfilling and life-giving relationships but they still take energy.)
If you are a stay-at home type then you might be more tired because you don’t leave your “job.” Cleaning, cooking, planning, shopping, managing, loving, educating, did I mention cleaning. You get the idea. There is much to do. We have friends, volunteer work, ministries and homes to maintain. We’re busy, we’re full, we’re tired.
Are you not busy? Maybe bored? That’s another kind of exhaustion that also manages to drain us of energy.
Yet it seems like so much effort to “come to Him”. We feel too tired to receive the rest He promises. It may seem like one more thing to add to the to-do list. And the additional “work” drives us away to the remote control, the refrigerator or the bed.
We are bid to come to a promised place of rest. A place free of burden and worry. A refreshing place of peace. This place is full of everything we need: strength, healing, wisdom, joy, comfort, vision, creativity, LOVE. It’s where dreams are imagined and hope is born.
You don’t have to climb a mountain to find it
or look miles away in some meadow of flowers.
You don’t have to travel to an island’s distant shore
or paddle across an abandoned lake.
It’s only as far away as our next deep breath.
Media, food nor pillows (nor any other go-to subsistence) will ever give you the rest and comfort you are really needing. It may get you through. It may help you cope one more hour or one more day but it will never get you there. So, how do you get there? How do we come to Him?
How do we enter His Rest?
Desire REST over coping.
Take the drive and strength that we use to get things done and lay it aside. We have to take off our self-reliance and self-sufficiency like a coat. This is one of the hardest steps for me. Sometimes I feel like if I take off this “coat” I’ll fall apart – as if this coat is what’s holding me together. Jeremiah 9:23-24
Get quiet. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
Have confidence that with your desire for Rest, the removing of self-sufficiency and becoming quiet that He will meet you. The place of rest is not a location it’s a communion. “In quietness and trust (confidence) is Your strength” Isaiah 30:15 (italics taken from KJV)
Lean on Him. Allow God to be the one to hold you together. Depend on Him for your strength, wisdom, and joy. Proverbs 3:5
Love on Him and receive Love. Share with Him, worship, listen, be filled. Psalm 36:7-10
This can be done in a few minutes or over long periods of time. Rest can be found in moments. He wants to give you rest. He wants to remove your worry and stress. He wants you to be whole, have vision and be filled with His strength. He wants to refresh you.
I am including a song below. The video is not much to look at – which is fine because you might do better to have your eyes closed. May it help you find that place of rest and remind you of His great love and promises that abound in His presence.
Copyright ©2012 makeitplainontablets.wordpress.com
Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you cannot see. Faith is trust between lovers. But I had turned it into a negotiation technique: if I believe a thing and act accordingly then God is obligated to act on my behalf. This is not faith and this is not a love relationship. This is false intimacy – an illusion of closeness. And it’s this illusion that caused me to fall so hard after the loss of my two little ones. Looking through Grace allowed me to see God and rebuild a relationship again without my illusions.
This was probably one of the hardest times in my life but it’s one of my favorites. God and I came into a relationship I only talked about before. He allowed me to feel whatever grief I needed to and I allowed Him to show me His love and wisdom through Grace. He got my head screwed back on straight and helped me through the process of healing.
We had decided to go ahead with our last round of IVF instead of waiting until Jonathan returned home from his deployment. Our last two little ones who had been frozen for a few months were my final hope of starting a family. Looking back now I know it was my anxiety that just wanted to push to get this over with. Success or failure didn’t really matter – I just needed to move on from waiting.
It snowed that November in Seattle. Old friends who just happened to move to the area let me stay with them for a few weeks over Thanksgiving. They were renovating an old house and they let me sleep in the basement bedroom – one of the few rooms that still had a floor. The house was cold, drafty a shell of what was soon to be a fabulous home. Most of their things were in storage until the house was finished but they did have a couple chairs, a bed, a small TV and a very fabulous coffee maker. My friend told me it cost more than her first car. It’s the kind that grinds the beans fresh for each cup with a touch of a button. You can choose the strength and it even has one of those steaming gadgets if you want to foam your milk. I surely drank too much coffee those days but it was nice to curl up with a cup in one of the two chairs in the house and chat with my friend. It was also at this time, fabulous coffee in hand, that I started to write about Grace and destiny.
I have to admit I didn’t enter this round of IVF with as much Faith. Last time it had honestly never crossed my mind that it wouldn’t work. But this time I had a different perspective. I went in leaning much more on Grace than Faith and simply hoped that “Perhaps the Lord might act on our behalf”. Though I slept on a blow up mattress, Grace remained my featherbed. As I fought off worry, Grace was a comforter and support. Despite my brokenness I felt a certainty. I no longer struggled with whether or not God was good. I knew He was. I didn’t wonder if He loved me. I knew He did. And no matter what the outcome of IVF I knew God was for me wanting to see me reach my destiny.
I can’t tell you exactly how I came to be so certain. But after I opened myself to see God through Grace something happened. I lay there sobbing until the tears were all gone and I found a vulnerability and dependency that said, “I trust you.” I trust that your goodness is not dependant on my favorable circumstances. You are unchanging. I trust that you love me now and always because you said nothing could change that – I was the one who added the rules of performance. I trust that you are bigger than me, see better than me, know more than me, so no matter how it looks you are on the sidelines wanting the best for me, not trying to see me fail or teach me a lesson. Anytime I started to think about something that didn’t line up with these truths I knew my thinking was wrong. These will never change:
God is Good
God loves ME and
God is for me not against me!
I did everything just like they told me. Count these days, take these tests, and show up for this procedure. It felt just like last time. But I left the office with a glimmer of hope, “What if THIS was IT!?” I knew what to expect this time for the “Two Week Wait” but it didn’t make it go any faster. The nervous anxiety clung to me everyday until my blood was drawn. It just so happened to fall on my birthday. When she called I could tell in the nurses tone before the words came that the results were negative. I wasn’t pregnant, again.
I got that call while traveling with family on the East coast. We were touring DC and that day we visited the Holocaust Museum. I grieved but there’s nothing like the Holocaust Museum to put your life in perspective. Reading and viewing life size depictions of Holocaust victims made living without children like an easy sacrifice. And I left feeling grateful for my life.
I decided to spend the rest of Jonathan’s deployment traveling and visiting family and friends who would help strengthen me while grieving. I did a ton of soul searching and spent countless hours in prayer, worship, and writing. I got back into kickboxing – an old love – and reaped the physical and therapeutic rewards. I don’t know of a better way to work out frustration than to pummel and kick a bag with all your might. It was a cleansing and clarifying time.
When Jonathan returned home after seven months away we focused our attention on reuniting and rekindling our connection and not on family building. Although deep down in our hearts we had a hope that God would do something supernatural that wasn’t something I wanted to put any emotional or mental energy into. We even found ourselves dreaming about the benefits of life without children: more free time, more money, less stress, more sleep. We integrated back into our church family after both having been gone. I rejoined our community but stayed out of volunteering for a little while. Most everyone there knew our circumstances and despite my request for people to stop praying for me to get pregnant and have a family, they didn’t. Obviously I still had some unresolved anger, but I was working on it. Slowly I got back into ministry. It just felt good to be giving to people and I had so much to share about how God had been with me in hard times.
I think we had been home about a year when someone from church came up to me and said, “I think I have something that will change your life!” I was hesitant but asked what it was. She explained how she knew someone who was pregnant and was considering adoption. I thanked her for the news and said she could keep me posted but I wasn’t initially excited about the idea, even more so since it was just a “what if” situation. Jonathan had always been open to adoption. Not just babies but children from around the world. He has such a big heart. I, on the other hand, wasn’t interested. I’m still not sure what my issue was – no doubt it was based in fear of something. Regardless, I told Jonathan about the news and allowed myself to be a little excited about the prospect of a baby. Hardly anyone knew about the woman, she went to another church in town, but still some talk about her situation could be heard that made me guard my heart against hoping. I didn’t need anymore disappointment. I trusted God; as I said before, I knew He was good and that He loved me, I just wasn’t sure I could hear Him clearly on this issue. That was not the case for those around me; they prayed with faith for things I wouldn’t allow myself to dream of anymore.
It was February when I got a phone call from the woman, I’ll call her Mary. She knew I knew about her and her situation so without explanation she asked if Jonathan and I wanted to meet her and her husband to talk about it. We set up a time for later that week. I was nervous but allowed myself to get a little excited. My position at church was a public one. So Mary knew me but I didn’t know anything about her except what others had told me.
That day we drove just a few short miles from our house to a little shop where we met Mary and her husband. After a few handshakes and brief introductions we sat down at a small table. She looked over at me, gently laid her hands a small blue hat box and pushed it across the table saying, “God, told me to give this to you.” Inside the box was a DVD of her ultrasound and a small crocheted blue blanket she had made for the 20 week old little boy that grow in her womb. Mary’s story of regret and redemption is a beautiful one. One that is not for me to tell perhaps one day she will write it herself. Until then let it be said that she sought God’s guidance for the destiny of that little boy and she found His finger pointing at us.
My heart leapt! But I grabbed it and stuffed it back into a safe place of doubt before moving on. I took the box without knowing what to say. “Thank you?” I actually don’t remember what I said. I remember us talking about some realistic details and the four of us prayed together. From that moment on, to Mary, I was the Mommy. I went to every midwife appointment and ultrasound. We visited and got to know each other. She asked us to name him, said she’d call him Mr. Wigglesworth until we did. When time came for delivery she called Jonathan and me and we were with her the whole night.
My eldest son was born by an amazingly strong woman, her husband and closest girlfriend by her side. Jonathan cut the cord and from that moment on he was ours. In a instant I was a mother.
I hadn’t dreamed of it this way but now I couldn’t dream of it being any other. And the miracles didn’t stop there. When our firstborn was 5 months old I got pregnant without clinics, drugs, planning or trying. I know I know you hear this all the time. Someone adopts a baby and then they stop thinking about getting pregnant – they are so relaxed it just happens. I don’t know how many people told me I just needed to relax and “it” would happen. But I was not relaxed and that is not what happened. Motherhood was an identity I had to adjust to. Being a mom is hard. The exhaustion alone caused emotional and physical stress, Jonathan got orders to deploy again and a legal battle around the adoption was ensuing. Relaxed was not the word to describe me. No. This was an outright miracle! My 13 year long medically documented infertility, blocked fallopian tubes, had been healed! And nine months later: our second son was born.
We were in awe of God’s sovereignty. His Love, Grace, and Mercy amazed us. Even when I was faithless He was faithful – I just didn’t understand it, I just couldn’t see it. But hindsight vision is 20/20 and I never again struggled like I did back then. Even when trials came I had these miracles to remind me that God is faithful, like the Israelites had the 12 stones from the Jordan River as a testimony of what God had done.
After yet another military deployment Jonathan and I discussed having another child. We didn’t even consider whether or not we could. We simply decided and nine months later a little girl joined our crew.
My family is a miracle. The creative hand of God at work. I continue to live each day by His Grace, my Faith ever growing, and knowing that there is still so much more to come.
Copyright ©2012 makeitplainontablets.wordpress.com