Resting Joy

hammock

I often wonder about a lot of things and I find myself coming to the same conclusion each time. Now I’m not talking about the cure for cancer, or the national deficit, or the latest bargain price for broccoli.  This isn’t a post to tell you my vote for President.

The two words “I’m busy” make me wonder and create a contradiction in my soul. I also wonder how many busy signals God hears. I’m busy blogging, writing, editing a book or two, writing another book or two, recording some radio stuff, cleaning, eating sleeping, and exercising. I get it. Me too.

I run to God constantly but sometimes I am distracted with problem solving on my own. Then when this happens…it’s as if there’s a tap on my little shoulder.

“Please rest in Me.”

Here I am in a season of busy activity and it seems super unproductive to take a siesta or halt to a stop with all this activity around me. I’m used to doing for myself, producing, and meeting deadlines. I’m used to feeding and dressing myself, but one idea I’m not good at is resting. So why would I need to rest now?

I found myself saying, “I’m too busy to rest.”  And the conflict comes down in my soul.

Then….I came to my senses through the help of the Holy Spirit. Needless to say, I repented of my wrong thinking, refocused my mind and put my thoughts back on Him. And now I can see more clearly, I’ve learned that rest is more than a season. Rest is an attitude I am adopting into my life permanently.

I don’t know if you have thought about rest in this way, perhaps you have been too busy. I believe God planned rest from the beginning of time and created a whole day intentionally for rest. I know you’ve read this over and over in Genesis, but I realized it was the very component I needed. To help you be more productive, more focused, and more intentional with your time, you might need rest to be more than just a season.

So I ask you, what would it take for you to stop the whirling world you live in and give yourself a long soaking rest in God? I get it…I thought I was too busy also take a long time to rest. Then once I experienced true rest, it’s now a part of my life I can’t live without. Try it, even if you think you are too busy.

God is trying to reach you in your busyness. And this just in…He wants to be MORE than a crisis manager to you. He specializes in perfecting the very details which seemed to go unchecked when you are busy. I let him manage my task list, my clock, and my seasons from now on. It’s important to Him, and I can rest on Him knowing He knows more about my needs than I know myself.

“Who you spend time with is what you value the most.”  – John Gray

I get it. I know. I see. Rest isn’t just a suggestion from our Creator. Rest is a place to center your will back where it belongs, in His rest. He gets it, He sees you, and He knows you need it.

Take my word for it, it’s worth it.  I dare you to try God in this too.  It’s better FOR you than you know.

How to Count It All Joy

girl joyful

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:2-5

As Christians we can easily slip into the lie of “life gets easier as we mature” in Christ. After all, it’s the good work of Christ who is completes His work in those who walk by faith.  And on top of the work of completion we are encouraged to be brave through all the changes.  And one more step…count it all joy.

No deeper truth can be said and bears repeating …life is full-on hard! We already know about hardship, troubles, afflictions, and understand those aren’t easy. Life is full of pain, heartaches, and loss of life. Living as a believer, it is often harder to have faith and hope in the midst of doing life, especially when hard problems hit.  So how can you love this life while embracing conflict, hardship, and adversity?  How about when you are in the heat of the battle of shame, pain, and messy habitual sins?  Do those situations have to count too?

By faith, we are encouraged to ask God for everything we need. Yes, we ask for strength to make it through crisis after crisis, strength and endurance to make it out alive.  We ask God for pain to subside, for healing, and even ask for miracles. How many times though do you consider trials with joy?  How is joy really possible when bravely embracing hardships, adversity and problems?

I’m still counting how this works, but I do know life becomes easier with joy.

Friends, it’s taken me years to figure out a simple truth.  When we attack each day with joy, hard things are easy, painful things fade, and our strength is renewed without asking. To count your joy, consider everything in your day a gift of joy and watch your joy unfold.  Joy is second to God’s love in how the Spirit helps us.

Love generates joy.  Did you catch it?  Joy helps in making life’s adversity embraceable.  Joy helps us live brave.  Joy helps us make hard days count.

I remember the funeral of my brother-in-law.  It was a sad occasion due to suicide.  Like most families we didn’t understand why.  We were all heart-broken with grief.   My husband and I were leaving the service, and when it came time to say good-bye to his wife, I was at a loss for words.  All of a sudden, my father-in-law stood up to do the same and his pants dropped to his ankles.  We all stood, the whole family, stood with jaws dropped when this happened. We weren’t sure what to do, given the occasion.

Enter my mother-in-law’s next simple statement, “Well, Lloyd, where is your belt?”  We all burst with laughter at his forgetfulness.  It was a perfect tension-breaker  and now a joy-bringing memory to a very sad moment in our family’s timeline.

Joy is powerful. It helps us navigate through adversity, trials, and hardship.  In using God-given joy, it gives purpose to our pain, helps in our letting go, and heals our hurts.  The joy God bears in our lives enables us to live bravely through each tough occasion.  His love generates this kind of strengthing joy which reaches all the way to Heaven and back.  That’s joy you CAN count on!

No matter what hard thing you are looking at, try to hold to joy which only God can give.  Receive it – no it won’t make sense, but it will surprise you in how easy it is.  This kind of joy will lift your burdens and warm God’s heart.  He can see you smiling right now too!

When I didn’t know I needed rest

finding joy

It was a season that I was unprepared for and didn’t know what it would look like, though it was exactly what I needed.  I had just given my all at a job for 13.5 years and had resigned my position to pursue full-time writing.  My new season wasn’t exactly what I had signed up for.

Honestly I didn’t know what it would look like except it felt good to sleep in past 3:45 am.  I did have some expectations going into this new thing that God was doing in me.  I was ready for a change.  I thought it would be easy.  I thought it be great and grand.  I thought I was already prepared.  I thought a lot of things.

I didn’t think it would look lonely, or leave me with a feeling of insignificance or make me feel marginal in anyway.  I didn’t realize I needed any rest and thought I could transition to one season to the next.  I wanted to know results to feel productive.  I didn’t think I had to dig so deep to discover my purpose.

This new place I was in was the exact opposite of my previous work environment.  May I be bit transparent here?  I felt a bit weak in this type of rest.  I thought I knew what this was about, but God showed me His more important things to accomplish as I prepared for the coming season.

Have I told you that I have a hard time being still?  It’s difficult for me to rest.  I didn’t realize how worn out I really was.  Emotionally I didn’t realize how spent I was on the inside.  The transition from a very public personality to a full-time writer was challenging for me.  As a people person, I used to talk to people for my job and the moment I left that position, intense isolation and loneliness set in.

I remember feeling so unproductive in my new found reason for rest.  I couldn’t hardly wait for God to launch the next step of His grand plan for me.  I believed it was around the corner, but at the same time, I missed people in painful way.

So I asked God where was His joy in this resting?  Where’s the joy in my feeling isolated?  Where was His joy in my new found freedom?

Because I was dealing with doubt, I re-evaluated my decision again and again.

Because I was looking for the fruits of my labor eveywhere, I lost my motivation to share my weight loss story in book form.

Because I didn’t see His value in my purpose, I couldn’t find joy in my writing.

It was a couple of months in, when I realized that God was working on His time frame not mine.  I slowly began to regain a right trust for His timetable with His plans for me.  My preparation season was my stilling my heart’s desire before the Lord.  Only He knew I needed that kind of rest first to project me into the next phase of this writing journey.

He knew that I need to build strength as a writer, He knew I needed a new dose of courage and He knew that I my confidence needed some encouragement.  He knew what I needed even though I kept telling Him what I wanted.

I often think about how we try to jump ahead of God or try to produce our own little spin on His great purpose for our lives.  There are days that I wonder what God is up to, but I know I can trust Him to meet my needs more than I can supply the words to wrap His ways.

I am mostly left in wonder that my Father, who has no needs, can anticipate all of mine no matter the season.

Once I realized I could trust Him in my new found season of rest, I felt His release to my new phase of ministry.

Once I realized that I was stepping into my calling, I received the joy that He had waiting for me.

Once I realized that I was never alone on any day, whether it was a public setting or not, I sensed His presence in a ways that I can’t describe.

Once I found joy in my freedom, I felt His peace that passes my understanding.

As I draw on His strength,  I am assured of His faithfulness each day.

Once I dropped my expectations of what my life should look like, healing came like rain from heaven.  I saw the fruits of my labor and I stepped into my purpose as His daughter.  I took my place in the kingdom and never my doubted decision again.

It is well with my soul and I’m breathing deep in His grace.  That’s true joy friends, not happiness as the world teaches us, but true and abiding joy that lasts.

Finding His joy in the freedom of your calling is a beautiful thing and helps define your identity in so many ways.  Finding purpose for your life is joyful, finding rest in due seasons is healing, and finding a deep trust that empowers your faith is life-changing.

How do you look for joy?