Permission to Rest

The unknowns are an ocean beneath me
I am on a cliff, watching them
s w i r l i n g
The power of each thought as it cycles through the mind
Will I let myself fall into the whirlpool
Or will I remain distant
The power of our emotions, our thoughts
We must not let them pull us down
Under the current of circumstance
We must remain atop the cliff
We must surrender to the power that is higher than I (and eye)
We must stop attempting to control the elements
“Part of our problem is that God has access to all the information where as we do not. I heard someone (not a Christian) say that a fundamentalist is a person who treats a partial truth like it were the whole truth. In this sense, we often think like fundamentalists. We keep forgetting that we’re finite beings, trapped within one culture, located in one time with a singular set of experiences. We keep thinking that we’re like God.” (Gospel Coalition )

Are you easily overwhelmed? Emotionally confused?
There is something I am learning:
If we place too much weight on self, on our own strength, our ability to make decisions,
We live in fear as though we have the potential to stuff up God’s plans. To thwart his purposes.
We place stress and pressure on ourselves to perform. To meet standards that no one else has set.
We run ourselves down. We fatigue.
All because, inside, the guinea pig wheel is running, running, running.
Worrying, worrying, worrying.
Overthinking everything.
Attempting to chase certainty in the face of consistent and continual uncertainty.

I don’t know about you, but for me this whole year has been a blur. My anxiety has reared it’s head, but thankfully no severe panic attacks… Only constant blows to breaking point. I realise the reason I am unable to say “no” is because I feel that there is pressure to say “yes”.When I analyse and question where this pressure is coming from, the source is my own perceptions of people, and not in fact the reality.

Of course, when promises are made it is important to keep those, to commit to those, to meet expectations within reason. But. There is a predominate line of distorted thinking in my rationale. It is as though I am waiting for someone to give me permission to say no.

I’m running on this guinea pig wheel, desperate for someone to save me …. When I’m the one resisting gospel freedom and the true salvation of my soul,
living as though I need to keep chasing certainty rather then stepping away from that destructive cycle and surrendering.

Only when I choose to stop do I start to see.

There is only one constant, one sure identity. When I surrender, I see how fear has stolen my gaze, my feet slipping from my faith foundation in Christ, the solid Rock on which I stand. When I surrender, I step away from uncertainty and toward that which is certain: the love of the Father in sending his Son, the promise of the Father in sending his Spirit, and the victory of the Son in that he has overcome.

 So. What’s stopping me?

I realise that no one needs to grant me permission to say “no” and step off the guinea pig wheel. No one else runs my life but me. I have free-will and the ability to make choices. In fact, the One who has a greater will, authority and control gives me permission to rest …. In fact, he gives me a place to rest.  He invites me to find rest in him, to abide in him, to come to him, to live in him, to be with him for eternity. His rest is rest for the weary soul, true rest, an answer to the inner pleas for someone to save me, to stop me, to free me from this chase for certainty.

The only one who hasn’t given me permission to rest is me. I haven’t allowed myself to say “no” . I haven’t allowed myself to disappoint people – and to be ok with that, because it is not my place to satisfy their needs, to people-please. Maybe in their disappointment they will turn to Jesus with their need.

So. I am the one stopping me.

I have been holding on tightly, in fear, in control. Not allowing myself to rest. Feeling guilty if I do rest. Feeling obliged to say yes. Feeling like I need to “do”. But that is works. That is moral blindness. And even if I do it out of the right heart and desire to share God’s love, I cannot continue in this pattern of over commitment, because I do not allow time to rest in his love, to rest in his authority, to step back and step into his word – longer and deeper – to match these aching and grasping parts of me that just need to be settled by the Spirit.

I am terribly controlling, and I need to learn the art of surrendering. To stop chasing so I can start seeing.

Whenever I go interstate to my family, I reserve this time for rest. But I realise that three weeks in a year is not enough time devoted to rest. That’s not sustainable. I need to learn what it means to live rested and to live rested in him, in all things and at all times in all seasons.

I returned to Psalm 23 the other week, for the first time in almost a year (see Friday 23: Psalm 23). I was with friends, as we read and prayed over this passage before a project meeting. What stood out to me this time was verse 2:

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters”.

How true it is, that I need to be MADE to lie down, to stop, to rest…

So. What am I waiting for? 

He promises to restore my soul (3). This is not a temporary rest. This is a deep-rooted, sustained, everlasting rest. An invitation to be a part of his flock, under his care. Naturally, we want to take the lead in our lives. But slowly you realise that there are so many things out of your control. So knowing that the Lord is in control AND offers to take the lead is a great reassurance.

If I fear people more than him, I am paralysed by the possibility that they might get disappointed, that I might offend or hurt or damage them. But. I am not the one responsible for other people’s recovery or restoration. There is a root of people-pleasing and moralism in this tendency of mine to avoid letting people down in the name of being sacrificial and servant-hearted. But. I am not serving my Lord well, not loving him well, not living for him well if I am forcing myself to go-go-go-go and be Jesus to people. I am not called to that. I can’t live up to that. There is gospel freedom in saying “no”, in combining love with truth, which doesn’t always mean playing nice and saying “yes”.

This is a lesson I have been learning more this year and we see it in the book of Galations too. In Galatia Paul found Jews who were zealous and tickling the ears of people, sacrificing the truth of the gospel and the cross of Christ for what was acceptable in the eyes of man. Oh, what an empty chase!

I pray that if you are a yes-woman or yes-man that these ramblings may resonate with you, that together we can find true rest, true freedom, true trust in the face of uncertainty and true wisdom in how we spend our time, learning to only say “yes” when we can invest and to say “no” when we are carrying heavy loads.

To finish, I had to share a song that has been the chorus of my heart lately, a beautiful reminder to rest in him, to run to the secret place where He is, to be restored by him and him alone – “Secret Place”


Respond from the Heart