Recipe for Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

 

Are you tired?

Are you worn out?

Does your grief exhaust you?

Is “burn out” looming ahead of you?

Do the holidays bring anxiety?

Rest. That seems to be what I want most right now in my life. This widow-life makes me weary. Every once in a while I will text a widow sister and say, “It was fun while it lasted (not really, and she knows it). Now can I have my life back?” I am just flat-out tired. Doing all I do as the only parent is exhausting.

Let’s look carefully at these words of Jesus as they pertain to us specifically.

  • Come to Me: Have you avoided spending time in God’s Word because you are angry with God?  Avoidance of Scripture doesn’t help your weary soul. Ask me, I know… Jesus opens His arms, saying, “Come back to Me, sweet daughter.”
  • Weary and burdened: Grief wears a person out. We understand weary. Add the burdens of life, and we have the perfect recipe for exhaustion. Burdens of caring for aging parents. Burdens of our own health or the health of our children. Burdens of relationships. We have burdens, right?
  • Take My yoke upon you: We need to remove the yokes we are currently wearing. The yokes I pile on are “image”, “sin”, “expectations”, “busyness”. What are yours? I imagine myself with all these yokes on my shoulders while Jesus stands there with a yoke made for me, fitting perfectly. I am weighed down under the yokes I have placed on my back. They don’t fit my shoulders, they rub sores, and they don’t provide any kind of relief for my weary soul. I can choose to keep piling on the yokes of my own making or receive the one made by my Creator for me specifically. That probably includes giving up control–such a challenge for me. What yokes are you wearing that are not from God?
  • Learn from Me:  I need to study His life. He is “gentle and humble”. Probably the two words we need most as a widow, when you think about it. Gentle with those thoughtless comments and lost relationships. Gentle with those who don’t understand grief and loss. Humble when needing help, and we do need help more than ever before.  Where do I need to use gentleness and humility so I can be more like Christ?
  • My yoke is easy and My burden is light: Yokes are heavy by their very nature, so how can Jesus say His is “easy” and “light”? I believe it goes back to taking His yoke on our shoulders. Perhaps it isn’t as heavy as it looks. The yokes I am wearing most days are not easy or light. They are heavy and wearisome. I want to shed these heavy ones and wear the easy, light one He has for me.
  • “And you will have rest for your souls.” Isn’t that what we all want anyway? What we are longing for? Especially during the holiday season.

Let’s follow the recipe He gave us and find the rest He offers. It isn’t merely jumping on a wagon of  “positive thinking” or just faking it. He PROMISES to give rest in exchange for taking His yoke upon our shoulders. Let’s shed the yokes we put on ourselves and take His.

Lord, You are our Creator. You promise rest if we follow Your guidelines. Help me stop looking everywhere else for rest. I want to be still and turn to You for rest. I hand over the cumbersome yokes I have been wearing for far too long. I need the rest You offer. Amen


 

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Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

 

Looking for another article on peace? Click here for an article titled Applying Peace by Lori Streller.

Looking for articles on dealing with the holidays? Click here 

 

Weed or wildflower?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? Look at the wildflowers in the field. See how they grow. They don’t work or make clothes for themselves.  But I tell you that even Solomon, the great and rich king, was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers.

If God makes what grows in the field so beautiful, what do you think he will do for you? It’s just grass—one day it’s alive, and the next day someone throws it into a fire. But God cares enough to make it beautiful. Surely he will do much more for you. Your faith is so small!

 “Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

That’s what those people who don’t know God are always thinking about. Don’t worry, because your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 

 What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries.

Matthew 6:28-34 (ERV)

 

 

I’ve always loved flowers.

Some of my earliest memories involve lazy Sunday afternoons, spent on my granny’s farm near Symsonia, Kentucky, exploring the pasture and yard for flowers.  Dandelion flowers made the best necklaces and bracelets!  One day, I ran into the pasture, picking some of the most beautiful daisy-like flowers I had ever seen.  When I brought them to my grandmother, she laughed and called them “weeds” (black-eyed Susans).  I didn’t care what they were.  I just saw their beauty.

Isn’t that just like life?  One person sees wildflowers.  Another sees weeds.

One person views nothing but obstacles in their path.   Another views the obstacles as opportunities for growth.

Some see a rainy day thwarting outdoor plans.  Others, especially those of us in drought conditions, silently thank God for the rain, sometimes even getting outside to dance in it.

Some see death as an ending to a loved one’s existence.  Others see death as the beginning of their loved one’s heavenly life, one which will be unimaginably glorious.

My point is this:  no matter your situation, where you find yourself, whatever life mess you may be trudging through—you have a choice.

I, for one, am guilty of sometimes looking at my life using binoculars.  I squint through the long magnifying cylinders, hoping to see how it’s all going to turn out.

But God wants us to put down the binoculars and soak up the here and now.

His plan and purpose for each of us can’t be seen using mere binoculars.

With Him, you need to view your life as if you are in the world’s largest IMAX theatre.  Soak in the vivid colors, be amazed at the different dimensions, stand in awe of the immense possibilities He has–all just for you!  They’re all around, some close enough to touch, others may take a bit of a journey to accomplish.

It’s easy to get caught up in the infinitesimal minutiae of our lives.  Sometimes you really can’t see the forest for the trees.

Troubles are troubles, that’s for certain.  The good Lord knows we all have our share.  But troubles can help develop patience.  Patience leads to endurance.  Endurance leads to virtue.  Which builds character over the long haul.

Some look at a flower and see a weed.  I choose to look at a flower and thank my Creator for its beauty.  And its resilience.  It’s anything “but” a weed in God’s eyes.

Training yourself to look for the good in the midst of the bad, the flower in the midst of weeds, the opportunity disguised as an obstacle, takes faith.  And not just any old faith…a faith put into practice on a daily basis.  Practice makes perfect.  It takes at least 3 weeks for a daily activity to become a habit.

I challenge you to take 5 minutes each day to examine your life.  Are there weeds present which can be viewed instead as wildflowers?  Is that glass of water half-empty or half-full?  God can show you how to embrace it all.  Just give Him 5 minutes for starters.

He’s waiting to reveal his plan for your life.  He will make it beautiful in His time.

Father God,  Help us to choose beauty, to choose faith whenever our lives seem like anything but beautiful.  Show us the way of grace.  Teach us to look around us, to appreciate the here and now.  You can turn weeds into wildflowers, obstacles and hardships into opportunities, and endurance into integrity and character.  Remind us to slow down, and to thank you, regardless of the circumstances.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Finding Joy In Trials

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure.

And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing.

James 1:2-4 (Voice)

Tests and hardships.

No one is immune from them.  You walk this earth long enough, and you will come up against a situation that literally takes your breath away, making you question if your faith is strong enough to get through.

The apostle James tells us not to run from it.

Tell that to the young family whose daddy is fighting a recurrence of cancer.  Or to the couple dealing with bankruptcy. Or to the spouse caring for their beloved, who is battling dementia.  Or to the widow, suddenly alone after almost 50 years of marriage.

Life isn’t easy.  It’s not perfect.  Bad things happen.

Every family deals with less-than-ideal circumstances at times.

By doing the opposite of running away–embracing–whatever situation or circumstance we find ourselves in, James tells us we will ultimately find joy in it.

How do you ultimately (eventually, over the course of time ) find joy in a cancer diagnosis?

In a death of a loved one?

In the midst of financial difficulties?

There’s only one way–by giving it to God.

Lock, stock, and barrel.  Nothing held back.

Empty yourself of “self,” open your tight fists with the problem or hardship you have a death grip on, and release it into God’s hands.

Palms open, uplifted to Him, so He can see you’re not withholding any piece of it.

It won’t be easy.  And it’s often not too pretty.

There will be times you may think you are slogging through quick sand; you simply cannot go one more step.  You’ll pray for the test to just be over, the circumstance to be reconciled, the hardship to be fixed.  But it is in that very moment, when the pressure is at its greatest, you will blossom.   Your faith, deepen.

I like to think of joy as the fruit of a close relationship with God.  It doesn’t necessarily equate to instant happiness.  Joy doesn’t fix everything, wrap it up in a neat, tidy bow, at least on this side of heaven.  But it is the underlying current in a Christian’s life.  We know Who wins in the end.

Joy will cause your faith to blossom, your patience to be taken to new levels of endurance.

And in the midst of the pressure, the chaos, the swirling of the hardship–the undercurrent of joy can carry you.

Life is a journey, with the ultimate destination on the other side.  How you handle the tough stuff on this side is up to you.

James exorts us to endure, to choose joy in bad times, in order to complete the journey with maturity, lacking nothing.

God gives us free will, the ability to choose.

As for me and my family, we choose joy.  In every circumstance.   How about you?

Dear heavenly Father,  We come to you seeking joy.  Joy in every circumstance, in every situation life deals us.  Life is hard.  But You are greater.  You win in the end.  Keep reminding us of that, as we sometimes struggle to find joy, even in the difficult parts of life.  In your blessed Son’s name we ask it all, Amen.