Much like learning how to walk, rest takes practice. From a young age, we have had to formulate some kind of ritual or routine that teaches our bodies when it is time to fall asleep. Our need for sleep reveals to us that we have limits. We are unable to defend ourselves at all times. It exposes the reality of our weakness. We need a guide and a guard. We learned this in verse 1 of Psalm 23, when God, our Good Shepherd, rescues us first.
This may be a weird question, but has anyone else felt personally victimized by stillness? I was born with only productive bones in my body. Stillness tends to be my worst enemy because even when I have a million and one things to do, my human need to rest eventually kicks in. It’s a reminder that I am finite and God is the only one who never sleeps or slumbers. In verse 2, He doesn’t condemn or judge us after the rescue, but rather He leads us to green pastures where striving ceases.
My pride has repeatedly attempted to shadow the power of Calvary just by simply striving to do it all, manage it all, and carry it all (parenting, friendship, wife-ing, boss-ing, etc) -- to a standard that God has never set. Striving produces worry, then worry produces stress, stress becomes burden-bearing, burden-bearing turns in to relying on self, and that turns into total depletion! I need regular reminders that this behavior severely cheapens and devalues His triumphant work for me on the cross! He took on all my burdens, all my failures, all my shame. He took it all and freely gave me new life. He gave His life so that I could live in His provision of rest! He's got it ALL!
In a world where the holiness of rest and unproductivity feel foreign, we are called to submit the humiliation of our limitations to the All-Sufficient, Limitless power of God. I default to doubt and partake in criticizing what the Lord is doing because it typically doesn't look anything like how I would be doing it. We are prone to embrace a faith that if full of thrill, but we won't get away with practices of self-reliance and delusions of personal strength for long. We have to learn how to approach a Savior who invites the weary to come to Him to rest.
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
God’s greatest and most profound work is founded in our restoring. One of the more difficult places to recognize God’s faithfulness is when God’s plans don’t look quite like ours. If He has called you into a season of restoring broken places, be encouraged that something magnificent is on the brink. His pursuit of your broken heart and soul demonstrates that He has so much more in store for you.
Restoration is anything but easy. It’s not an overnight fix. For me personally, restoration of a shattered soul and broken mind has taken years. There was once no integrity in my soul. It was in two pieces. So after witnessing and experiencing God’s supernatural and miraculous mending of those broken places, I can say with full confidence that the Lord is most certainly in the business of restoring souls. The pain is all worth it. The processing through the trauma is necessary. The breaking down of each issue we have and rewiring the soul to Him, His ways and His full redemption are paths well worth the fruit that comes along the way. This is the fullness of love at its greatest extent. He longs to make you whole and to heal you fully. He is developing a “Glory Story” for you to share with others!
Let the redeemed of the Lord share their story! – Psalm 107:2
There is a theme throughout scripture that should bring us great hope: the imagery of trees, seed-planting, harvest and fruit! Restoring a “desolate land” takes time. It has to be cut down first, before it can grow much fruit. In the same way, His restoration process is the foundation of producing a great and abundant harvest in your heart and life. There are so many promises in these nuggets of truth that we desperately need to cling to when we are in a restorative and rebuilding time in our lives.
"Never again will you be called "The Forsaken City" or "The Desolate Land." Your new name will be "The City of God's Delight" and "The Bride of God," for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride." Isaiah 62:4
Look, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. -- Jeremiah 17:7-8
The threshing floors shall be full of grain; the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. He WILL restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. – Joel 2:23-27
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. -- Hebrews 12:11
Those who sew in tears, will reap a harvest of JOY! For though they may weep while going forth to plant their seed, if they persevere, they will undoubtedly return rejoicing—bringing their sheaves with them. – Psalm 126:5-6
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. -- Psalm 1:3
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. -- Psalm 61:3
In my absolute FAVORITE passage of scripture, Isaiah 61, boldly says God will "rebuild the ancient ruins that have been devastated for generations". Read: this Psalm applies to you! No matter the depths of trauma in your life, the stress, adversity, depression, anxiety or addictions. You are never too far gone for the Almighty Redeemer to step in and radically change the situation on-the ground. He longs to produce a harvest within you. He longs to produce fruit from your life that He can pour out into the lives of those around you. But first, we must be securely attached to "the vine" (John 15). Before our cup can overflow, we need to rest and be restored. We need to have that replenishment at that table with Him, and then everything that comes next is some of the most beautiful, redemptive, life-giving, resurrection-minded things you could ever imagine.
Lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven. Eternal rewards are promised when we walk through painful situations (read Romans 5:3-4). Our pain is never for nothing. Our suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope. Through the sanctification process, we begin to look more like Him. The reality of your Truth in scripture is always greater than the reality of your circumstances. He never has a plan of scarcity, but one of abundance of treasures, fullness, purpose and of so much good.
And when you walk out of that thing He rescued you from…head up child! Hand over your shame, your fear, your stress, your doubt to Him. Simply "be still", rest in His presence, relax in His perfect timing, press into the waiting and enjoy the outpouring of restoration, renewal and full redemption He has for you! What's waiting on the other side will blow your mind!
May your past propel you into your purpose-filled future! I can hardly wait to share with you what comes next in the triumphant, expectant and provisional promises in Psalm 23,
***And yes! To all those reading, our Psalm 23 bracelet has sold out TWO times! I am in awe! But don't worry, more are coming and will be back in stock next week! So be sure to stay tuned for that "back in stock" email! They will go quickly!