I Need a Vacation!
(for my soul)
July 9, 2014
Jennifer Hagler Photography
By Buffy York
Written by Laura DiFatta
Summer is supposed to be a time of rest and relaxation. Or so we thought! I keep hearing from almost everyone I talk to, “this summer is so busy!” Busy, busy, busy. Busy in the Fall, busy in the winter, busy in the spring. Busy in the summer?! Say it isn’t so! But, I admit, I feel it, too.
Don’t get me wrong, I like to be productive and I have the sticky note to-do lists to prove it. The daily list on my iPhone just isn’t enough. Shortly after I get up most days, my agenda is already forming in my mind…as is the question of how I’ll get my three boys–with agendas of their own–to conform to my “plan.” Sound familiar?
But, for the past four years, God has been teaching me a lot, including how to be ok with not being “in the middle of everything.” I have actually been learning a lot about how to not define my worth by my to-do list or how busy I am. He has been helping me learn how to not rely on being approved of by others for my self-worth because of what I am involved in or not involved in. I didn’t know how much I needed this long stretch of “different.” It’s been hard at times. I’ve even felt stuck and useless. But with the perspective of time, I’m beginning to see the blessings! In a way, I feel like I’ve been weaned. And like a young child that’s been weaned from its mama, I’m not clamoring for activity all the time to feel like I have worth. I want to do what God wants me to do. That may look different from what I used to think was “most useful.” That’s ok. There’s peace in that.
One of the verses that speaks to our deep need for quiet soul rest is found in Isaiah 30:15: “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” I hear a lot from moms about being fearful and nervous over their children. I understand. I do. But, I also understand the importance of pursuing God’s Truth and filling myself with it in order to counter that fear and anxiety with the Truth. It is an incomparable help for living in this world.
It is imperative that we learn to listen to God. I am able to listen to God best when I consistently spend time with Him. And when I spend time with Him, through prayer, through reading the Bible and sometimes sitting in silence, I experience refreshment. When I allow the Spirit and His Word to show me where I have gone “off-road,” –where I have sinned–I repent. Sin is when I’ve lived out mistrust in Him. Repentance is simply turning from my way back to His, trusting that God, who loves me most and best, has the best plan for my life in every area. It is a humble realigning of myself with Him. Though I can’t unearn my relationship and standing with God because my faith in Jesus Christ, my sin puts barriers between us and affects my ability to hear Him clearly. Seeking God and living in step with God brings peace even if my circumstances are very difficult. My soul can “rest” knowing that He’s got me, He’s got my family, He’s directing us. That rest is deep–at the soul-level. There is no amount of money or pleasure that can bring peace like that.
The times that I have experienced the clearest “hearing” of God’s message are the times when I have been the quietest, when I’ve been “still.” (Do you feel like I am speaking a foreign language right now using words like, “still” and “quiet?”) In moments of stillness, I have gotten clarity on issues I’d been praying over, understood scripture in a fresh way, been comforted, strengthened, guided and encouraged. Practically speaking, this has looked most days like starting my day with prayer, reading the Bible and just sitting quietly thinking on what I’ve read before the boys get out of bed (well 2 out of three, anyway.) Now, you might be thinking, “I would go insane sitting quietly for 10 minutes straight knowing I could be getting a) more sleep or b) something “productive” done or c) checking my iPhone. I just have this question: how’s that working for you? What I can tell you from personal experience is that I never regret the time I spend with God. Never.
Over the years and through consistent times of quiet with God and with His Word, I have learned about Him, about His character, about His amazing, beautiful, sacrificial love about His vast and intimate plan for humanity and how very personal He is. I’ve learned He can be trusted. I’m not suggesting this is one more thing that should feel like a burden on your things to do list. I’m suggesting that it is the very thing that you need before you start your things to do list, before you start your day’s interactions. And I know that as you get to know God better, it will be something you desire.
Friends, we have to be deliberate or as we know very well, we will do as we’ve always done and miss the soul rest. We will miss the reminder that we are loved by our creator God, who knows the end from the beginning and through Christ holds all things together. You are a better you having experienced soul rest. You are better in your relationships having experienced soul rest. Even when we mess up, there is tremendous peace knowing that the same God who says, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest,” is the One who longs to spend time with you, to draw you into the most important relationship of your life. He thought you were worth sending His Son to earth for you. He thinks your worth it now.
If someone invited you to a spa, you’d be excited at the prospect, right? Me, too. Well, I’m inviting you to spend time with the One who knitted you together, who created your eternal soul; the One Who knows you inside and out and loves you. This is not about religion, it is about a relationship that will leave you filled, not empty.
I’d like to leave you with some “soul vacay” verses.
Say, “ahhh” anytime you like…
Jesus’ words: “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
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus’ words from John 14:27
“I have told you these things,so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus’ words from John 16:33
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’.” Matthew 19:26
“When I am am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4
“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you…” Psalm 55:22
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Romans 8:1
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Romans 8:28
This is a prayer you might pray:
“Dear Father God, thank you for the grace through which you have given me peace with you, through Jesus. Thank you for the precious gift of His life, for the forgiveness of my sins and that you maintain our relationship. Thank you that Jesus lives to intercede for me and all the believers, according to your Word. Thank you that you are for me, that I can come before you in confidence because Christ has made the way for me. Please forgive me for neglecting you for lesser things. Thank you that your love is so perfect that you welcome me with open arms as the prodigal son’s father did. Thank you that your love for me is active and powerful. Thank you for not ever being finished with me until the day that I am complete in your Presence. Thank you that you are near to those who call on you. Again, I thank you, Father, that you are for me. I ask for your peace that passes all understanding that you promise will guard my heart and mind when I bring my cares to you and when I rejoice in you. You are my very great Reward. Help me to want to be still before you, to listen to your still small voice, to value and obey your Word. Help me to trust you and when I don’t understand, to trust you still. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”