I did it again. I fretted. Loudly. Emotionally.
“We’ve got to do something!” I told my husband. He sat there calmly and said, “I am doing something. I am praying for a miracle and resting in the Lord.”
Now my problem is I can’t tell his resting in the Lord face from his avoiding a discussion by playing solitaire on the iPad face. All I want to know is if he is taking this crisis-de-jour seriously or am I going to have to do all the pre-trusting-in-the-Lord wet hen flap dancing all by myself?
Well, yes, I am. He doesn’t flap. He’s unflappable. He knows it’s pointless. So do I, but I do it anyway, not as often as I used to, but still often enough to have to apologize to the Lord later for my lack of faith. It’s my over-developed sense of responsibility again. I know I need to pray from a place of rest and trust in the Lord, believing that he has made a provision for every problem, but… but…but…
I also need to know that somebody cares. To me that means investing in some emotional expression. I want some compassionate tears or groans or something. A little sympathy pill. Failing that it means doing something, anything — making a list, googling for information, shopping for extra batteries — some indication of extending oneself. That’s how I show caring. But not everyone communicates the same way. I know that.
There’s another trap that I have fallen into far too often. In the absence of the proper person for the job I have the bad habit of rushing into somebody’s-got-to-do-it mode, jumping in without checking with the Lord whether this is helping or enabling or just plain meddling. It’s time to change that.
I have been reading in the book of Hebrews about the importance of rest. “…whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:10-11 ESV)
Now I have to tell you the instruction to “strive to enter God’s rest” has always seemed a little crazy-making to me. It feels like one of those damned if you do/damned if you don’t scenarios played out with frustrating bosses or elderly relatives who cannot be pleased. Are not “strive” and “rest” words carrying opposite meanings? What do you mean by that, Lord? Do you want me to strive or rest? Pick one. It’s another thing that has made me sputter in frustration. But this week I think I may be able to understand this passage and its importance a little better.
I was down at the Falls. I watched autumn leaves float down from the tall trees overhanging the water. Some fell into the water and were carried by the churning stream around and around the eddies then picked up by the torrents and whisked over a series of small waterfalls until they disappeared over the cliff with the big waterfall. Some of the pretty coloured foliage fell on rocks and rested there. Being inanimate objects they didn’t have the option of throwing themselves into the drama and chaos of the river and then, when they were emotionally spent, crawling back out to a resting place. They were still or they were not.
We, on the other hand, need to concentrate — strive — to remain in a place where God is our total sufficiency. It’s so easy to slide off the rock and join in the words of complaint or dismal predictions. It takes effort to stay in a place of rest.
I’m afraid I still get sucked into not only my own drama, but the drama of people around me. I think I’m showing compassion, but maybe I am just riding the currents of fear, swept away with emotion.
I asked some people who are father along on this journey than me what they do when they genuinely care, but want to remain in a place of rest where they can hear our heavenly Father’s heart for his children. Some said they just withdraw and refuse to respond to panic. Some said they explain that they do care, and they are praying, but they believe God is good so they don’t need to verbally rehearse how bad the situation looks. He knows. They want to hear how Jesus is interceding so they can join him, and for that they need to cease from offering their own solutions and reactions and seek the Lord.
As Graham Cooke said, “We need to learn to pray as brides and not as widows.” We are not alone or abandoned to our own devices to solve a problem. If we lack wisdom we can ask, simply because he loves us.
Rest is not passivity or fatalism. It’s connecting with God first, and trusting him. It’s realizing that we can quit relying on our own efforts to save ourselves or others, and let God be God. He has a plan, and it’s a good one.