It has been quite a week. Sometimes the reality of living in a restless, fallen world is like that. Unexpected things have happened that have broken my heart. Good things that were expected didn’t materialize. Delays and disappointments have been the norm along with a variety of other perplexing circumstances popping up at exactly the wrong time. It’s been one of those weeks where the cares of the world have pressed in from every side and tried every which way to steal my peace.
But it’s not working. It’s not working because I’m learning to live in the strive free zone. Really, I’m learning to live in rest.
Don’t get me wrong–it hasn’t been a stress free zone. Not by a long shot. It hasn’t been fun and it hasn’t been easy. I haven’t always been in a good mood and I haven’t always been filled with faith. My heart has been hurting and I’ve been more than a little confused and discouraged. But one thing I haven’t been is anxious or worried.
Really, the bottom line is that I can’t fix any of the things that have been pressing on my heart. If I could, trust me, I would. Maybe the past couple decades or so of learning–often out of necessity–to let go and leave things in the hands of the only One who can truly “fix” anything have actually had some sort of impact. His ways are not my ways, and his timing is rarely my timing–but he has also never failed me.
It has been so tempting to dwell on what I might be doing “wrong.” It is tempting to question why certain things have happened, and also why certain other things have not happened. When you’re still waiting for breakthrough in many “near and dear” areas after years and years of praying every way you know to pray and doing everything you know to do, “What am I doing wrong?” sounds like a a pretty legitimate question! But a friend recently challenged me with an even better question: “What are you doing right?”
What I do right is seek his face. What I do right is hang out with him without an agenda. What I do right is long for his courts and hunger after the things of his heart. What I do right is cling to his word and hope in his goodness. And what I’m learning to do right is rest in his faithfulness.
Rest. That really is what it boils down to. It’s not giving up. It’s not giving in. Instead it’s running into him. The battle is for rest, because from rest the battle is won.
By my own efforts I will never get it all just right. So instead of striving to make things happen–no matter how good and noble those things may be–I’m going to put my energy into something that actually makes a difference. I’m going to be diligent to enter into his rest. Only when my heart is at rest and my gaze is fixed on him, can I truly seek his kingdom and his righteousness from his perspective. Then I’ll have the energy to keep putting one foot in front of the other–and the focus to simply keep doing the things he has clearly shown me to do.
I don’t control what happens in this “rest-less” world, but I can choose not to allow that restlessness to enter my own soul. I can’t make the world stress free, but I can live in the strive free zone. I can live in a place of rest. Jesus lived in such a place of rest that he was able to sleep through a storm that completely overwhelmed his disciples. Once they woke him up, he was able to calm that same storm with a simple command. I’m convinced we can learn to do the same. Bill Johnson puts it this way, “We only have authority over the storms we can sleep through.” In other words, we bring peace into any storm that doesn’t disturb our rest.
Hmm … sleeping through the storms of life. I’m not there yet, but I want to be. As a matter of fact, I think I might feel a little yawn coming on. Must be time for a bit of rest …
In the strive free zone.