Rest in the Lord

I’m not sure I know how to rest in the Lord.

On Sunday, my friend encouraged me to rest in Christ. He pointed out that I’ve been wearing myself down trying to determine the right thing to do, striving to make sure my actions fall in line with the Lord’s directions for my life. And while actions aren’t bad, he reminded me that I can quickly lose sight of the truth that Christ’s hold on me matters far more than my hold on Christ. To say it differently, the security of my faith rests on Christ’s finished work, not the pending completion of my unfinished tasks.

I don’t do well with this truth, though. I feel like I need to always be moving, always be working, always be pursuing some objective. Even when I rest, I wonder if I’m doing it right, if I’m resting the correct way. I’ve looked for ways to evaluate my ability to be passive, making even times of rest somewhat exhausting.

I’ll confess that this is a difficult problem to fix. The moment I recognize I’m off somewhere, I almost immediately try to discern what I need to do to fix it. But how do you fix the problem of always trying to fix the problem?

I’m not sure I have a good answer to that question. I tend to second-guess myself constantly, drowning in the what ifs and the maybes, making this situation somewhat tricky. But I think Psalm 23 may provide a way forward.

Some friends and I just began a study of Psalm 23. No matter how much time I spend in that chapter, I’m continually struck by the profound simplicity of the words. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Throughout the Psalm, David expresses faith in the sufficiency of the Lord, recognizing all the ways that God cares for him. As we discussed the first verse the other night, we noted our great need and admitted the ways we fail to provide for ourselves. Apart from a shepherd, we would all be lost. But with a good shepherd, we have all we need. We rely on the Lord for provision, protection, and purpose, and he gives these lovingly.

I’m not good at resting in the Lord, but I serve a God who loves me and cares for me even when I struggle to trust him. So I pray for grace and mercy, I confess my weakness, and I look to Christ and his strength. And I hope in him, knowing that he will sustain me.


Photo by Caspian Dahlström on Unsplash

Central and Primary

David’s example challenges me.

Yesterday morning, I read a few chapters in 2 Samuel. In chapter 5, David sought the Lord before two different encounters with the Philistines. Each time, God answered and gave direction, though his guidance was different each time. David listened and found victory.

In chapter 6, as the ark of the covenant was brought into the city, David danced before the Lord, worshiping and celebrating. Though his wife criticized him, he defended his actions as being done for the Lord alone regardless of who may have witnessed him. The Lord appeared to justify David here.

In chapter 7, the Lord made magnificent promises to David. David, upon hearing the word of the Lord, responded in humility and reverence. He prayed confidently in light of the promises of God.

Throughout David’s life, we can detect a pattern of reverence and obedience. God was central and primary to David’s life, Lord over all of his ways. David sought the Lord before he went to war, refrained from acting against God’s anointed, and lived with a recognition that God ruled over all things.

Of course, David wasn’t always faithful. We see him tempted to take vengeance when wronged by Nabal (1 Samuel 25), though we see too the faithfulness of the Lord in that story. Later, we see David fall to a host of sins, with devastating consequences (2 Samuel 11-12). Yet in spite of the depth of David’s sins, he consistently returned to the Lord, understanding that, “Against you, you only, have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). Even when he strayed, David eventually returned to a place of surrender.

The stories of David’s sins are instructive in that they illuminate how our own sins often work. If David’s strength was his commitment to keep the Lord central and primary in his own life, his weakness was his tendency to let something else take that central and primary place. So too with us. We err when we place anything else as first in our affections. Leisure, pleasure, comfort—each have their proper place in our lives. When we elevate them above their rightful places, however, shifting our hope from the Giver to his gifts, we move our entire trajectory from the pursuit of the Lord to the pursuit of self.

But David’s heart for the Lord is a worthy example for us. Let us be people who hold the Lord higher than anything else, who keep him as central and primary in our lives. Let us be people who seek him first, love him first, and order our lives around him. Let us be people who see God as God and who respond accordingly.


Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

Easter

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Father, let me ne’er forget the story
Of the cross, the tomb, the third day’s glory.
For after those four hundred years so long,
Elijah’s call was heard throughout the land.
“The kingdom comes! Repent! Make straight the way!”
And with his words, John pointed to the Word,
The spotless lamb of God, the virgin’s son,
The heir to David’s throne, the promised one.
He brought us peace yet also brought a sword;
The people were divided in that day.
They cried. He died. They did not understand.
He rose, and this is evermore our song:
The king has won the war we could not fight;
The darkness has not overcome the light.


Photo by Laura Vinck on Unsplash

Promises and Pledges

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In high school and college, I saw a number of people set boundaries on their lives for the sake of holiness and purity. Friends of mine would declare a “Facebook fast” and would deactivate their accounts for months at a time, citing their need to strengthen a relationship with God as the motivation to abstain. Other friends would declare a year of singleness, determining not to date for twelve months in order to refocus on the Lord. Others set boundaries on existing relationships (“we will not be alone in a bedroom together”; “we will not hang out past 11:00 pm unless others are present”; “we will not kiss until marriage”). At the outset, hopes were high for the excited individuals, each one intent on drawing nearer to God. But not every promise produced the desired result, and not every pledge proved effective.

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