Archives For rest

“Faith is transferring your trust from your own efforts to the efforts of Christ.  You were relying on other things to make you acceptable, but now you consciously begin relying on what Jesus did for your acceptance with God. All you need is nothing.”
Tim Keller

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“The Christian life is not about the weak becoming strong; it is about the self-sufficient assenting to their own weakness. How horrible! How freeing…

Conventional wisdom tells us that suffering can either make us better or bitter. I don’t think it’s that simple. I think suffering makes us more. More of all the feelings; more of who we’re meant to be; more aware of our own weakness and, hopefully, the source of real strength, who doesn’t leave us to our own devices but carries us.
Stephanie Phillips

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“When we despair of gaining inner transformation through human powers of will and determination, we are open to a wonderful new realization: inner righteousness is a gift from God to be graciously received. The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. We cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.” Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline

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“We think of Jesus as a hero who dug deep down in himself to find the strength to push through.
But Jesus did not rely on willpower…willpower was not the source of His faithfulness. It was His deep, abiding relationship with the Father by the Holy Spirit.

We fall into the trap of thinking the Christian life is based on self-generated willpower…[that we need to] just try a little harder, come up with the right formula.

Jesus has called us to something deeper than self-help and personal resolve.. He has called us to more than trying our best to mimic his behavior. He has called us to abide in Him.” Jamin Goggin and Kyle Strobel in Beloved Dust

I often think of faith as something active, something that energizes. It propels me forward to walk on water, to bring a paralyzed friend to Jesus, to shout out to Jesus as He passes by. I want to ‘get more’ faith, ‘have more’ faith, ‘exercise’ more faith–for myself and for other people. I rue my lack of faith, because I view faith as a simple equation that reveals the poverty of my soul. Weak faith= on the verge of God’s wrath and judgment. Or at least self-condemnation.

And then I read about Hudson Taylor’s failure with faith and what he learned that revolutionized his spiritual life and ministry, fifteen years {!} after starting his work in China.

“I felt I was a child of God. His Spirit in my heart would cry, in spite of all, “Abba, Father.” But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless….All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was–how to get it out?

He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak. I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question… I saw that faith was the only requisite–was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it mine. But I had not this faith. I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to exercise it, but in vain.”

Then a sentence in a letter changed Taylor’s life. The sentence read:

“How to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”

“As I read, I saw it all!.. Ah, there is rest!” I thought. “I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me–never to leave me, never to fail me?” And He never will.

As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul! How great seemed my mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fullness out of Him! I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. The vine is not the root merely, but all–root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit…

It is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Savior, to be a member of Christ! Think what it involves.
Can Christ be rich and you poor?
Can your right hand be rich and your left poor?
Or your head be well fed while your body starves?

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how…His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me. ”
Hudson Taylor

This is how I ‘get more’ faith: Not by working at it but by resting on the Faithful One. Not by feats of great personal sacrifice but by remaining attached to the Vine and trusting that streams of living water will flow through me.John-reclines-on-Jesus-chest

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Refrain
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

“The literal translation of the words ‘pray always’ is ‘come to rest’…This rest, however, has little to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.”
Henri Nouwen in The Way of the Heart

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“Evangelicals have a very wordy, heady and busy faith tradition. We emphasize theology and word, knowledge and service. And yet we are starved… for rest, to know God beyond what we can do for him. We are starved for quiet, to hear the sound of sheer silence that is the presence of God himself.”
Ruth Haley Barton in Invitation to Silence

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“For the Rushed, Hurried and Afraid of Missing Out“
For I am convinced that neither
traffic, nor long lines;
nor needy children or demanding bosses;
nor crowded calendars, nor unfinished projects;
nor deadlines;
nor impossible expectations of others,
nor unnoticed accomplishments;
nor any other “hurry-up” thing
will be able to separate us from the
{timeless, eternal, enduring, patient, steadfast}
love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paraphrase of Romans 8:38-39 by a recovering hurrier

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The yoke of rest

July 21, 2016 — Leave a comment

I’ve been reflecting on what it means to rest in God–to rest in being His beloved, to find rest for my soul as Jesus promised in Matthew 11 when He said, “Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

That sounds like music to my soul, but the next sentence tends to jar my sense of peace: Take My yoke upon you. There’s nothing about a yoke that seems restful to me. In fact, the idea of resting and trusting seems to be the opposite of wearing a yoke. In my mind, a yoke chafes, to bumps, it constrains. It seems painful, tiresome, relentless.
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But that is not what a yoke is meant to be:
“A yoke, in ancient Palestine, was made of wood, handmade to fit perfectly to the neck and shoulders of the oxen to prevent cutting and chafing.” [Pete Scazzero in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality]

Or, as Jesus puts it in John 15: “Remain in my love.

Like a steering wheel, the yoke of Jesus keeps me on the good path, the path that leads to quiet waters where my soul is restored.
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“Take My yoke” is another way of saying, “Stay close. Stay attached. Abide. Rest.”
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I need to remember that the choice is not between having a yoke or having no yoke at all. There is no yoke-free life. Whatever track I am following is a yoke of sorts. And though other paths may seem pleasant at the time, there is only one directing me to my ultimate best. Jesus wants to bring me home and I can trust that the yoke He gives is going to be a good fit for me, a yoke of grace, love, forgiveness, comfort, shelter–and yes, rest.

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I’ve seen this in action. I’ve had the privilege of knowing saints who have taken the yoke of Jesus, and they are the lightest and most rested people I know. Their lives are full of peace and joy. They may experience trouble on every side, but they aren’t crushed; they may be perplexed, but they aren’t driven to despair; they may be knocked down, but they aren’t destroyed. They carry in their bodies the death of Jesus, but the life of Jesus is also visible in them, full of grace and truth.

They are able to rest in a storm, like Jesus sleeping on the boat in Mark 4:37-38. A furious squall came up and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. At rest.
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Thus says the LORD,
“Stand by the ways
and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:16
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