The glowing digits of my alarm clock tell me that I should be asleep right now. It’s one of those late nights/early mornings where sleep is elusive. It’s not for lack of trying or physical fatigue. The truth is that my body is tired and if I’m to be honest, my heart is too. Perhaps you’ve experienced nights like this. Your body needs to shut off, but for whatever reason, your mind struggles to do the same. One thought leads to another. Before you know it, p.m. turns into a.m., one hour melts into the next. Instead of drifting back to sleep, you drift into a new wave of worries, fears, or additions for your “to do list.” (I think I’ve dabbled in all three tonight.)
Ironically enough, several things I’ve read recently directly relate to the topic of rest. I finally flipped on a lamp to let some of these truths wash over me again rather than struggling alone with my thoughts in the dark. Perhaps they’ll help to quiet both of our hearts, regardless of what time it is.
- “The word Sabbath means a deep rest, a deep peace. It’s a near synonym for shalom–a state of wholeness and flourishing in every dimension of life. When Jesus says, ‘I am the Lord of the Sabbath,’ Jesus means that he is the Sabbath. He is the source of the deep rest we need. He has come to completely change the way we rest. The one-day-a-week rest we take is just a taste of the deep divine rest we need, and Jesus is its source” (Tim Keller, King’s Cross, p. 42).
- “…there’s a work underneath our work that we really need rest from. It’s the work of self-justification. It’s the work that often leads us to take refuge in religion. Most of us work and work trying to prove ourselves, to convince God, others, and ourselves that we’re good people. That work is never over unless we rest in the gospel. At the end of his great act of creation the Lord said, ‘It is finished,’ and he could rest. On the cross at the end of his great act of redemption Jesus said, ‘It is finished’–and we can rest. On the cross Jesus was saying of the work underneath your work–the thing that makes you truly weary, this need to prove yourself because who you are and what you do are never good enough–that it is finished” (Tim Keller, King’s Cross, p. 43).
- “The difficulty of coming just as we are is that we are messy…Nothing exposes our selfishness and spiritual powerlessness like prayer. In contrast, little children never get frozen by their selfishness. Like the disciples, they come just as they are, totally self-absorbed. They seldom get it right. As parents or friends, we know all that. In fact, we are delighted (most of the time) to find out what is on their little hearts. We don’t scold them for being self-absorbed or fearful. That is just who they are…This isn’t just a random observation about how parents respond to little children. This is the gospel, the welcoming heart of God. God also cheers when we come to him with our wobbling, unsteady prayers. Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who have learned how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wander, and I will give you rest.” No, Jesus open his arms to needy children and says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). The criteria for coming to Jesus is weakness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy” (Paul Miller, A Praying Life, p. 31).
Be still my soul
the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide.
In every change,
He will remain.
Be still my soul
your God will undertake
to guide the future as in ages past.
Your hope, your mind,
your will with nothing chained.
Oh now mysterious, shall be bright…
Be still my soul…