Rest

Rest is good. But for many of us including myself, we want to avoid it as much as possible and as long as we can hold out. That is, until we are burned out. Or until we hear the voice of the Lord calling, inviting us to His presence where we can find rest and peace for our souls. For the strong who move about in the world “spinning yarn into gold” day and night, they may find rest in their plush hotel rooms as exhaustion catches up with them. What they have is physical rest which their bodies so badly need.

AT THE CENTER. My unfinished strawberry painting. I am dismayed that, after examining my heart, this project indeed bears my fingerprints and not the Lord Jesus'. It's a deep-in-the-heart thing I need not divulge :( .

AT THE CENTER. My unfinished strawberry painting. Although the name was inspired by one of my favorite praise songs,”Jesus at the Center”, I am dismayed that, after examining my heart, this project indeed bears my fingerprints and not the Lord Jesus’. It’s a deep-in-the-heart thing I need not divulge :( . Who or what is at the center of your life?

The owner of a large Japanese cosmetic ingredients manufacturer who is a supplier of our own company for the past two decades recently visited Manila. Before his trip here, he passed through China, his days dotted with business meetings. When Felix my husband met him, this ageing businessman looked so tired and haggard he was ready to drop. He recounted to Felix his many appointments before and after his visit to our country. He is so busy and always on-the-go that he got confused with which airlines he was flying in until Felix offered his assistance.

This man may squeeze in rest in-between his wildly busy schedule, but it will just be a physical rest, a few hours of sleep wherein his body ceases to do any activity. But at every waking moment, the mind zooms in automatically on the day’s agenda.

I believe that true rest is free of worries, fears, and anxieties. That the waking moments are sweet, to be relished and not to be dreaded.

True rest is finding a place where our bodies, minds, and hearts can settle in peace and comfort. I believe that it is in this kind of rest that our bodies produce and multiply healthy cells and we recover.

We know that, but often, we forget. I do.

Two weeks ago, about the time I was supposed to write for my weekly blogpost, I had already planned on a topic. But as I collected the thoughts in my mind, it felt like the cup wasn’t filling up. It remained empty. That was my cup. I was running on empty and the Lord wanted me to see that.

I cannot write about what I do not have. I cannot give away what myself is lacking and needing, because it isn’t even there.

Simply put, I cannot give what I haven’t received.

So, I decided to pass the week without a blogpost. I needed a writing holiday. It wasn’t about the writing per se, it was about being filled up so I have something to pour out.

I needed rest – my mind, my heart, and most of all, my body. I posted an unfinished strawberry painting project on IG and informed everyone that there wouldn’t be a new blogpost on that week.

It was very clear that the Lord was inviting me to rest. His rest. And I couldn’t deny anymore the fact that my weak and ailing body was crying out for it.

Rest is God’s gift to His children. Rest is His grace. Rest is His mercy. (For we could be so stubborn sometimes, ignoring the rhythms of our bodies and being cruel to them). To enter into His rest every now and then is an standing invitation. All we need to do is drop everything and enter in.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mat. 11:28-30)

These words of the Lord Jesus Christ show how compassionate He is toward us – the weary, the burnt out, the suffering, the stooped-down.

Why do we keep on spinning until we succumb to exhaustion, endlessly doing and performing and achieving and reaching and striving? No matter how much we deny it, we keep on doing because we want to leave a mark. We want our lives to matter. And I believe that is not a bad thing. But I also believe that our performances matter less to God than our deep desire to commune with Him and revel in His presence.

And maybe, we also unintentionally offend God when we work so hard to show to the world a stellar work, claiming it’s for God’s glory, but in reality, our marks and fingerprints are all over the place. We may not realize it but He knows our hearts more than we do. Our work should bear His marks and fingerprints. 

So, I entered into God’s rest and did my best to keep still and be not distracted by the world. It’s easier to do that when there is physical suffering involved. But entering into His rest also requires our humbling down and heartfelt confessing and repenting, if we know there are reasons to, like when we have made a god of our work or something. It is only when peace descends upon us that we can settle in His rest. And even if there is suffering, His unfailing love, His peace and comfort, will steady our hearts.

This is the reason why my heart grieves for those people who have not really known, received, and loved the Lord Jesus Christ and yet, still refuse Him in their sickbeds. I don’t understand. They want to be healed but they do not want to receive the Healer. They do not want to enter into His kind of holy rest. Is it maybe because they do not believe in the first place? Or they think they have been good they don’t need saving? Or they do not have enough divine fear? Or maybe mostly because they haven’t known and understood and didn’t hear enough? Seek enough?

But how can a fragile human being whose life is just a vapour which appears for a little time, and then vanishes away (see James 4:14) afford to refuse Him? How can a sick person find rest without the Lord Jesus’ presence, His love and peace? For all our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But this thing I learned: we shouldn’t give up in offering God’s rest – His salvation – over and over until we are heard and He is received. For in the Lord Jesus, there is rest from our labors, ailments, and sufferings.

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Awaken Your Spirit!

Meditating on Psalm 108.

For Your mercy is great above the heavens,
And Your truth reaches to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth. (vv. 4, 5))

I hate it when (I’m sorry to say that, forgive my choice of word) I find myself drifting away from the sweet holy presence of the Lord. There are long seasons when I just hunger for Him, when I thirst to feel His presence enveloping me and I cry both in delight and longing. In those times my heart is at peace and my soul seems to be full always. But I’m afraid that there are times that I feel far from His presence and I know that it’s my own doing.

Sometimes I find myself entangled in the busyness of everyday, delighting in my plans, chores, and even a little entertainment. I praise and worship in the mornings and evenings but my heart and mind are —- distracted. This brings me sorrow and disquiet.

I don’t want to worship with my lips alone while my spirit remains detached. I want that my whole being is engaged with the living God. And it pains me when I just can’t do it. Does this happen to you? Or am I hard on myself like that? But you see, I think we have these stirrings because we are to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and might. And don’t we find ourselves feeling guilty when temporary things, things of this world, occupy our hearts and minds, from our waking moments to the time we rest for the night?

Psalm 108 reminds us to awake to the fullness of the presence of God. Not only to rise up and dutifully sing praises but that our whole being is alive with the awareness of the living, breathing, loving God! I want that, though I may find myself busy doing chores or playing and having fun with the kids or spending sweet moments with my husband, my mind is aware of Him, that my heart beats for Him! That in the midst of my joys and happiness and busyness,  I gently whisper, “Thank you, Lord Jesus. I love You. Thank You for loving me like this.”

O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and give praise, even with my glory.

I will awaken the dawn. (vv. 1, 2)

For His love for us is unchanging. We receive His mercies – they are new every morning! Faithfully, He answers our prayers, yes, despite our blunders, failings, and shortcomings (and occasional foolishness!). Patiently, He leads us in the way we should go and does not come short in giving us inspiration and delight to pursue the things of God – spiritual things. No, He does not leave us high and dry in our arid places. He lovingly draws us back and waters our souls. Wonderfully, He enables us to accomplish His purposes and plans, giving us courage and wisdom to minister to others. He makes us worthy. He makes us to triumph.

Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies. (v. 13)

May the meditations of our hearts and minds and our words and deeds give glory to Him who never gives up on us.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,