Faith is Rest

I’ve been continuing to think about the things I explored in my previous post on fear and faith. [Read it here]

I was particularly struck by something my Mum said recently as I related a worry to her.  After a flood of anxious words from me about “trying to trust God in the situation”, she looked at me calmly and said “Naomi, faith is rest.”

This stopped me mid-rant, because Mum had pinpointed a key thing that I had failed to recognise! Although I was talking the talk, when it came to faith and trusting God my anxious striving demonstrated that I hadn’t fully grasped the concept. To trust God is to rest from anxious striving,  because we know that he is in control and that he is good and worthy of our complete confidence. We can rest, because he is at work.

What a simple powerful truth, yet how difficult it can be to put it into practice!

Unbelief Disguised As Efficiency

Fear and worry bring out the control freak in me. I like to tell myself that “I’m just being organised”, but if I look at my heart I know that often what lies behind is unbelief disguised as efficiency.

I  replace trusting God with tangible human action, as though I’m wiser or more capable than God himself! And while careful control of all the variables might get me through a situation, or allow me to feel ‘in control’, I know that I’ve traded list-making and relentless action for the peace and rest that come from faith.

Of course it’s not really either/or.  We can be both trusting and organised, resting in God and active!

 baby- psalm 130

A Child with its Mother

Faith is rest.

Yet this is not about inaction so much as right attitude. Psalm 131 provides a helpful model:

My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

We’ve all seen sleepy toddlers snuggled contentedly with their mothers. They have no troubles because she provides all that they need, making them feel safe and loved.  Any need will quickly and trustingly be communicated to she who is constantly engaged in loving, protecting, and guiding her child.

What an astounding truth that our powerful, eternal God is willing and able to give us that same security and provision, causing the psalm writer to say “I have calmed and quieted myself like a weaned child with its mother.”

We, like Israel, would do well to humbly put our hope in the Lord and rest in him instead of proudly trusting in our own abilities or worrying when we know they aren’t sufficient.

Join me in cultivating this attitude towards our faithful God in pursuit of his rest!

Cast your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
Psalm 55:22

 

Nim

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Ice Cream, Escapism & Worshipful Rest

Last week I had a ‘holiday at home’ and it was blissful! My sister came to stay, we ate good food and shed loads of ice cream, stayed up late watching superhero films, and gloried in doing nothing of consequence!

icecream escapism

. . .And yet last week I also felt a disinclination to prayer. I was self-satisfied, self-centred, and worshipless.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that rest is bad, or that happiness and fun are unspiritual! I’m so thankful for time off work and good things to enjoy! I’m just saddened by the effect that it sometimes seems to have on my relationship with God.

I compartmentalise things, as though time with God is reserved for when I’m feeling serious or ‘spiritual’, or when I perceive that I’m in need. And yet if we approached our human relationships like this, how deep and authentic would they really be? When you are truly close to someone they share the complexities of life, but also the times of joy, rest, and random conversation.

What’s more, with God comes an element that doesn’t enter our human relationships, yet defines his with us. Worship.

When I look at the worship of the Psalms, God’s people are joyful in him, their happiness and enjoyment is increased when it takes place in his presence. They are quick to worship and praise God for his character and ways, and not just his direct blessings. They love to spend time with him in worshipful rest:

Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. Psalm 65:4

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Psalm 62:1 

Those who look to him are radiant . . .Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:5,8

This is a dimension that I need to cultivate! What can I do about this unhelpful tendency to exclude God from my leisure and rest, and neglect worship in my downtime?

Worshipful Rest
Firstly I think it’s right to acknowledge my sin in this. God deserves my heartfelt worship all of the time, I dishonour him when I divorce rest and enjoyment from relationship with him. I need to repent and I’m begging God’s Spirit to perform spiritual CPR!

Secondly, perhaps I don’t hunger for God in my rest times because I’ve already filled my belly?

We all remember our mums telling us “if you eat sweets now, you won’t have room for dinner!” Sometimes we let lesser enjoyments spoil our appetite for a truer and deeper enjoyment of God. Even in my rest times, I need to create room to hunger for God. If my holiday routine is an endless search for entertainment – a constant carousel of Facebook and Instagram and Netflix or a solidly booked social calendar, where is the space for worship and rest in God’s presence?

Of course worship doesn’t have to be formal or scheduled, and it can be good for us to rest from our everyday routines when we’re on holiday. Our worship can continue in enjoyment that praises its source, heartfelt thankfulness to God, and unrushed time spent in prayer and in his word.

Richer Foods
Finally, instead of just filling my days with mindless escapism and ice cream, I can be training my palate to crave the richer tastes and lasting rest of contentment in God; filling myself with the food of his wisdom, character, and kindness, and his thrilling promises for the future. I suspect that in eating my fill of these, I won’t feel such a desire to ‘escape’ in the first place (although it probably won’t affect my ice cream consumption!)

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

This is something I’m still thinking through, so if you have wisdom to share, let me know!

Nim