It’s that time of the month for me, the time where I come clean about where I am in My January Rest. Before my confession begins, I have a lot to say. For that reason, I am breaking this post into two parts: Big wins and fails, then the rest of the story.
It is amazing to me, that the month is nearly two-thirds done already! Only 11 more days of January.
Rest has been my biggest win and rest has been my biggest failure. When my journey began this month, I said that my soul cries out for rest! Rest for my soul has been the biggest win of My January Rest!
God is giving me that rest! One of the books I’ve been intentional about consuming, is W. Phillip Keller’s A Shepherd’s Look at Psalm 23. Guess what the chapter was titled today? He Makes Me Lay Down in Green Pastures! Seriously—Makes! There is that word again!
When I wrote about “Making Room”, I hadn’t read He Makes Me Lay Down yet: But, I had written about the word make. Then I read the whole, yummy chapter, about He makes me lay down. Why does He make me lay down? TO REST! Sorry for shouting, but yes, I am that excited!
If you think about the line from Psalm 23:2, He makes me lay down. It doesn’t say encourages, instead it says makes. Make takes effort! Make is active. In his book, Keller writes about the four things that keep sheep from resting (the bible mentions sheep around 500 times in the Bible: they were a valuable asset and there are numerous similarities between us and sheep!). Keller said we cannot rest unless we are free from these four things: fear, tension (with our own kind), aggravations (being “pestered” by pests and things, and hunger. Yes! Keller seems to know me well!
The last few MJRs have been much more difficult to rest. Stressful situations have caused me fear. I have felt assaulted by life and circumstances. I’ve had difficulty with some key relationships, like my teenager. Who doesn’t have some difficulty with a teen. And my dad when he was so ill. He hallucinate due to his blood gasses being off. Trying to reason with him sometimes caused conflict. Then, with all my stress, I’d snap at my husband. Who doesn’t have some relational conflict? And yes! Keller is right. It is harder to rest when I don’t have peace. Keller said it is the presence of the shepherd that allows the sheep to rest. It is in the presence of The Shepherd that His sheep can rest.
It feels wonderful that God is instructing me about rest. Knowing His heart leads me to rest.
However, my biggest failure also is about rest, physical rest. We all have our version of our lives. We may have varied schedules and experiences. Some of us are more regimented. Some are more routine than others. But, we all have some clue as to what works for us and some manner of routine to accomplish that. Right? For example, I do not watch TV. I’ve been asked twice by the Nielsen Ratings to share how much TV I watch. I wrote zero. I wonder what percentage of people wrote zero! In my 20 years of marriage, we’ve never had cable. Seventeen years before that, I never had cable. When we built our house, we said no TV on the main floor, and none in the bedrooms. We have one in our basement. Safe to say, TV watching hasn’t been a priority in my life. I prefer music and saving money! And quiet!
That changed to some degree with a child. I certainly watched more because of her. As she aged, we started family movie nights. Then came Netflix. And I watched a bit more. Then came a teenager and binge watching. Her, not me. Then me, binge watching with her…
Still that is rare, like over a break. I know myself well in this area, but my routine changed. Because of our daughter’s surgery, our bedroom (my girl and me, her nursemaid) is in the family room. Since she can’t be up much and stairs are tricky, my husband brought up the TV from the basement. That means we have a TV in our “bedroom”. I’ve been up late with her on the CPM machine and then the ice machine. All the while, watching TV. Late.
When I wrote My January Rest’s List, I couldn’t see the future. I wrote that I’ll watch zero TV. I didn’t know we’d have a TV in our bedroom and that we’d be up so late! My entire previous routine was rubbish. Non-applicable.
TV watching is up. At least I am not having to get up in the middle of the night, to give her meds with food, any longer.
Sleep is lacking. Apparently disciple too. Or at least better organizational skills. Or perhaps if I had more militant mom skills, I could get all her protocols in before midnight hits and the carriage turns into a pumpkin. Or a little magic to help me manage our schedule better.
And yet, there has been a bit of magic. There is an element of rest amongst the lack of physical rest. I’ve had a quasi-slumber party with my girl. I still remember the day when she was done with slumber parties with me. I didn’t realize I even liked them that much, until they were off limits. One day, she simply aged out, with no warning.
After her surgery, I slept on the couch by her blow up bed. And I—loved—every—minute! I prayed. I savored it. I praised God and prayed some more. Admittedly quality time with my girl, is valued more than physical rest.
I’ve had a few wonderful naps! The time I’ve spent with my girl, although sometimes tiring and challenging, has been a gift. How wonderful that her surgery was in January!
In the middle of the machines (for hours a day), and protocols, and a mess of crutches, a walker, clutter, school work, chargers, piles of stuff (especially soft blankets), pillows, and dishes, there is something of value—an oasis. Webster says an oasis is something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast.
In the middle of my mess there is an oasis. That oasis is relationships. Relationships are our primary food. They nourish our souls and good food nourishes our bodies. Many have been the friends who have checked in on me, or fed us, or prayed for us. They refresh and restore me!
And Jesus, my Shepherd undoes my fear, restores relationships, deals with and helps me deal with my aggravations, and provides for me.
He makes me lay down and rest.
While I admit I am physically tired, in Him and because of him, I have rest. And, I’ve been restored and nourished by relationships. I’ll share more about that in my next post about more wins and failures!