After Battles, Do Rest At The Resting Spots

August 4, 2014

When we have been in a gigantic battle, especially one that has lasted seven years or yes, even twenty, and especially when we see that it is truly over and God has led us to His green pastures beside quiet streams (Ps. 23:2), we must rest. And we should take joy and contentment in the rest. We should not look for more battles or feel guilty that we are not up wielding “the Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) as we were doing for years on an almost continual basis. There is a time for hard-working pastors to take time off every year. There is a year for committed missionaries to go home from the field and spend time relaxing with their families. And there are times for all of us to be quiet, to rest, to lay back and enjoy the puffy clouds moving across the blue sky. Our bodies, as well as our minds and our spirits, are not made to be in high gear continually.

Jesus tells us that when we come to Him, He will give us rest. (Mt. 11:28-30) This means He will give us the rest we need –for our bodies, our minds, our spirit. If we have pain, He will soothe it. If we have worries, He will give us assurance and reminders about His promises. If we have fear, He will give us courage. If we have storms, He will gives us peace. If we are weary, He will give us rest.

One thing I’ve learned about the Lord is that He lets the battles go on waaaaayyyyyyy longer than we anticipate that they’ll go on. But, I’ve also learned this: That the pauses, the rests, and the wait-times also go on much longer than we would have them.

I (and our whole family) had a big lesson in this area back in the 70s. Several of the missionaries who had come to the Philippines about the same time that my parents had, were on their last stretch of finalizing their New Testament translations. Not that they were in any race, but it looked like my dad (who has always given 120% of his effort and dedication to projects) would be the first to finish. But whoop! Down the Lord laid him –stuck to his bed in neck traction. I really don’t remember how long that lasted –many months, though, and with visits from other missionaries who would say things to my dad like, “Wow, God is teaching me so much through your situation.” My dad still jokes about those comments –and about his answers –ones like, “Well, could you pray that the Lord would use some other way to teach you?”

It was a hard and scary time for us all, and for a kid, the duration of watching my dad lay there in pain, and the loss of the excitement he created with his fun ideas and activities seemed endless. But, one day he was healed, for God suddenly righted the pinched nerve. I remember the feeling (still) of relief and joy as I walked with my healed dad around the “circle” of the mission center as he tested the validity of his healed neck. However, the battle-pause was short-lived, because a few months later my dad came down with a terrible illness that kept him on a death-bed for another half-year or so. Needless to say, my dad was not the first to get his translation done.

So why that long pause? Well, God knows how to keep us humble. And He knows how to teach us to trust, to be patient, to rest, and all sorts of other things we need for living a lifetime committed to godliness. Besides, a whole set of different circumstances would have happened. For example, my dad may have entered his Ph.D. program at the University of Hawaii a year earlier, which would have changed my life and my husband’s life dramatically. For we wouldn’t have ever met in that new kid’s classroom then, would we have? Truly, I can’t even comprehend how many other things would have gone differently had the Lord not forced my dad to rest a year in bed.

So, when the Shepherd leads us, orders us, or forces us to rest, we should accept it gratefully, even if there is pain involved. Because He knows what He’s doing and why. But there’s not always pain in the rest. Sometimes it’s just quiet streams and plenty of fresh green grass. Such times are to be enjoyed, our fellowship with God deepening in the meadow just as it was doing on the battlefield all those many years.

with love,

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