My January Rest: 01.07.21 Slow Progress

One week has passed. One week of My January Rest. One week of COVID.

by Angel Ambrose

As I sit in my room, in the middle of one of the most beautiful and interesting Winter Wonderlands I’ve ever seen, I wrestle with this virus for my health. I wrestle with my flesh over its wants and desires, and I wrestle with the heartache of suffering (so much illness, broken trees, power outages, and yet more social unrest). My January Rest is supposed to be slow: it is designed to slow me down, so that I pay attention. And if I am honest, The Rest isn’t as much about how much I accomplish, it is more about progress in the right direction. I’ve had some right direction momentum and some misdirection. That is how it goes.

Surprisingly, I haven’t read nearly as much as I thought I would. Anyone else like that? I love to read, but I am not a fast reader. Or a focused one apparently. When dusting by my bedside (isn’t that what you do when you are stuck in a room for a week?) I found a small book that needed dusting off. I am notorious for beginning books. This one, Lessons from a Sheep Dog, was another unfinished casualty. When I realized it was written by Phillip Keller, who wrote one of my all time favorite books, A Shepherd Looks at the 23 Psalms, I paused. Curious I opened it to the bookmark and wondered if I stopped mid-chapter. Upon opening I discovered a new chapter called, “The Test of Faithfulness.” It was the perfect size for a before sleep read.

What he wrote arrested me.

His beloved sheep dog, Lass, had a problem: she had a problem following his command to stay. She would get annoyed with dive-bombing birds and take off chasing them with all kinds of gravity defying antics. But the problem was that she left her post and that meant the sheep strayed where they weren’t supposed to, putting them in danger. Lass also chased the sparks from the fire clearing the fields. She was a sight to behold, entertaining even, but the problem came that, yet again, she hadn’t stayed: she wore herself out chasing strange fires. She hadn’t been faithful to her call and because of that, the whole of their mission (sheep business) suffered.

The admonition was: what are the distractions—those pesty, noisy, distracting birds you want to chase away, or fun, fanciful, flighty sparks of fire that you want to play with? What are those things that seem harmless, but they are actually keeping you from obeying. From staying. From sitting still.

Sitting still. Obeying and sitting still. Often we don’t because we thing there is something more important or more fun to do.

And yet, that might be all He is asking of us for a season.

Here I am, sitting in my room. A time out (I have COVID), in the middle of a time out (everyone is supposed to be isolating). Maybe I just have COVID. Maybe. Or maybe God is calling me to stay. Sit. Maybe as the chapter is titled, it is the test of faithfulness. Will I stay long enough to figure out what He is asking of me (and asking me not to do) in order to obey: in order to make sure our “sheep business” operates as it should.

The timing isn’t lost on me. I’ve had that almost finished book for about a year. It has been sitting in the same pile. And I decided to dust. And read—that chapter—in the middle of my COVID-ladened My January Rest. I’m listening. I’m “staying put”. I’m hoping to be faithful to His call, my Father’s Sheep Business, and whatever role my staying put can offer.

I’ll circle back around, and share how my progress is going based on The List soon. Until then, I’ll be sitting a bit and I hope you might join me in reflecting, this January, on what might be your greater good. God used a dog to teach author Phillip Keller some valuable lessons and he in turn, teaches me using different words—birds and sparks where I’ve used the words lessor things. The application is clear: we can chase after those lessor things, that seem fun or even worth chasing away, when really, we should chase the better thingseven if that means sitting still. And where God is concerned, hearing and following His call is the best-of-all greater good, even if the call is to stay.

Can we trust, that like Lass was commanded to stay, even though she didn’t fully understand, her staying had a valuable outcome. If you, like me, are in a season that feels like you have been sat out, (or benched, or perhaps even overlooked), can you, with me, agree that there must be some purpose and trust our Master’s plan?

Help us to hear You clearly. Help us to stay when You say stay and come when You call. Thank You that You are The Good Shepherd of our soul and we can fully trust in Your commands. In Jesus name. Amen

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