Do you have a motivational poster or inspiring saying posted somewhere around you? I was never the one to have a ‘Hang in there’ kitty poster, but I remember distinctly the poster in front of my desk in Geometry: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm!”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
(I enthusiastically struggled for a B. I enthusiastically looked forward to returning to finding x and the height of the parabola with Mrs. Bixler, an outstanding math teacher!
When I prepared to welcome Secondborn, I knew I would need encouragement. The 3 am feedings wear you out, especially when the other one starts his day at 5:30 when Dad gets up. Over the diaper changing station I wrote on a notecard Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
A few weeks ago I stared up at those words as I groggily snapped little buttons and heard Firstborn’s good-morning ruckus. Exhaustion ached through all of my body after nursing the entire house back to health for a week. It was then I realized something was glaringly missing from that verse. As an English teacher, I taught students to look at writing and ask the 5 W’s. This verse did not say WHEN. When will Christ give me rest? Immediately? When I die? When the kids are grown? With a sigh I prayed, readjusted my armor of God and headed down the stairs to face the day.
The problem is that juggling life- which to me looks like military life and raising two boys and learning the ropes of all Trisomy 21 entails- is exhausting. I can start off enthusiastically ‘standing on the promises’ but by the missed nap-time I am ‘leaning on the everlasting arms’ and by 9:00 pm I am all about crowning Him with many crowns and hitting the deck face-down with the angels (Crown Him With Many Crowns). *These are hymn jokes. Inside I am the 80 year old church lady with pink hair.
Well, today I received an answer. I had my butt kicked by a 75 year old woman, and I have it on good authority I am NOT the only one. Kay Arthur guided me to Hebrews to take a detailed look at the concept of “God’s rest”. The problem was my definition. I thought of rest, even resting in God, as clinging to the comfort of God so that I could persevere…maybe even being encouraged enough to feel strengthened until I could collapse into bed. I was wrong. Today I had a divine look into the “rest of faith”.
Rest isn’t a feeling or a state- it is a place that can be entered. Angry with the Israelites’ disobedience in the desert, God said ‘They shall not enter my rest.” To them, the rest was an everlasting possession of the promised land but that kind of rest is more than a trip to the middle east can provide. It is still a place we can come to- a place faith brings us. The Israelites didn’t believe what God said. They didn’t have faith or apply it to their lives, so they literally spent their remaining years lost. We have that same risk and opportunity, according to Hebrews 4:2-3. “For indeed, we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that REST, just as he said.”
Rest is uniting the Word with faith and living in it at that very moment. The Word of God must be united with faith! To know God’s Word is one thing, but to live by it, apply it, trust it, act on it, cling to it, that is another thing altogether.- Kay Arthur
This week I became overwhelmed with the combination of appointments, runny noses, demands for movies when our screen time quota had maxed out, and laundry beeping out, “I’m done! Fold me!” I was kicking myself for not doing the therapy exercises with Secondborn in the morning, feeling the weight of being primarily responsible for putting him on the right track in his early years.As I crushed up a pill for Secondborn and watched sandwich crusts fall off a highchair tray I literally said, “I can’t do this.”
As if someone were standing next to me, I heard the Spirit say, “Nope! You sure can’t! That’s what God wants you to admit.” So often I am guilty of trying to do it all and THEN letting God pick up the slack. I want to do things through His power and let him take control, but I am often at a loss on HOW to do that when so many things are my job. How do I have responsibility for these things but no control?
By believing. Lately I have been clinging to the story in Mark 9 of the father who had a troubled grown child. The father desperately comes to Jesus after a life of doing his best for his seriously disabled son. Jesus asks the father if he believes Jesus can heal his son. His cry was, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” I used to find this odd, but I now understand and cling to this. I can believe and yet still struggle to live in the faith. I believe God is fully capable of leading us, sustaining us, providing for us, and teaching us. His grace is sufficient. Now I need the Spirit to fill me so that HE can do it, not so I can do it. It’s hard to understand and even harder to live out. I’m still learning daily. The weakest faith in Jesus is still stronger than the strongest faith in yourself. (Pastor Tyler Davis)
I’ve realized that this week my mom-meter hasn’t been flying from “I am Supermom!” to “WORST mom EVER!” over a forgotten sippy cup or losing my patience with my child who refuses to speak. Those feelings were based on performance—and I am a type A firstborn through and through. Accepting that GOD gets all the glory and that I am only succeeding by his grace is important.
In Numbers, twelve spies looked out and saw unbeatable odds. The land they wanted to conquer was filled with ‘giants’ and heavily fortified. They knew God said they would be able to handle it with his help, but when they returned to camp and briefed Moses in front of the people everything went awry. (HUGE military mistake…brief privately first so leadership isn’t undermined! Little tidbit!) 10 of the spies were ready to sound retreat, but two young whippersnappers named Joshua and Caleb rolled up their sleeves and said, “We can take ‘em!” (Actually, they said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” Numbers 13:30) Humbling words when I feel outnumbered by two children under the age of two.
Life has challenges. Life is HARD. It requires faith for every moment and situation. When we lack faith and don’t live as though we believe God can and God will, we disobey. We throw “God didn’t do what I want or understand” hissy fits to rival my toddler’s. We try to do it all by ourselves. We try to do things FOR God instead of letting God do them through us. No wonder asking for rest doesn’t work. We have it all wrong!
The people of faith didn’t just receive rest. They didn’t simply take a “Holy nap”, though that sounds appealing. They “entered into rest.” That implies action and movement. They were on the move and yet still receiving rest. Today my circumstances remain challenging, but I refuse to be a kitten clinging to a tree branch. I want to climb down and conquer the things that seem impossible. Nothing is impossible with God. My children, especially my Secondborn, show me that daily. We are more than conquerors, my friends. May you believe and find rest. Oh, and hangeth thou in there, Baby.