I'm not particularly good at resting.
I've been feeling convicted lately--that I've been giving my "yes" to far too much. Giving away my "yes" with barely a thought.
And it's been wearing me out.
So, if I know I'm exhausted by the "yes, yes, yes..." then why do I keep landing here, again and again? What's at the restless root of my lack of rest?
I'll tell you what I know. It's more than a battle with a difficult circumstance. It's beyond than the constant nature of this season of life with small children. I think it's even deeper than, "I have a lot on my plate."
Because there's something rooted in my heart that's keeping me from resting.
Sally Clarkson reminded me, beautifully, in her podcast last week that when we can learn to prayerfully say, "no," we're leaving room for God's better "yes" in each moment.
(Lysa Terkeurst, this would be a good time for me to hang my head and admit that The Best Yes has been sitting on my shelf for a year and a half, waiting for me to pull back its pretty chalkboard cover. This would also, apparently, be the best time for me to finally actually read it!).
Some of my "yes, yes, yes" happens because I genuinely want to do ALL the things and I know they're great things that God can do great things through. Some of it is because I believe the lie that I'll "miss my chance" if I don't keep up with everything I've assigned to myself. Most of it, I'm finding, is because I feel like I'm going to let somebody, somewhere down or because I feel like I have something to prove.
And, on top of it all, I'm all-in when I'm in. I give more than 100 percent. I don't know how to do anything half-heartedly. But something's been telling me that my unrest has more to do with my heart than anything else.
Oh wait. I guess I do know how to do something without my whole heart.
I half-heartedly seek God's approval.
Because I'm so wrapped up in trying to please everyone around me. Ouch. That's a hard hit to my soul.
"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ," (Galatians 1:10, NIV).
- Do you wrestle with people-pleasing?
- Do you find yourself constantly taking on too much or trying to check everything off of a list that's far too long?
- Do you make certain decisions because you're more concerned about what someone other than God might think?
I want to please God. To run after Him, wholeheartedly. Why do I keep looking for approval in anyone but Him?
Here's the really incredible thing:
Pleasing God doesn't require a check-list of all the right things we do for Him any more than it requires a check-list of all the right things we think we need to do for any other reason.
We please God when we have faith in Him through the blood of Jesus, poured out for us. That's it. We please Him when we follow Him--the only Way, the only Truth, the only Life. We please Him when we walk with Him. And with Jesus covering us, God says that we're enough.
Ok. Here's where I start talking insanely quickly because I get so excited about what I'm about to say. If you're not already speed-reading, this could be a good place to begin...
In Hebrews 11, we learn all about people who pleased God with their faith. The were ordinary people like you and me. And they had faith that pleased God.
But what does that mean--to please Him? Because these people made plenty of mistakes. They gave away their "yes" to plenty of things other than God on more occasions than one. They were a far-cry from perfect.
Take a quick look at Hebrews 11:5-6:
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: "He could not be found, because God had taken him away." For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him," (NIV).
This passage was originally written in Greek, and the word for "please" here is aresko. But the author of Hebrews is quoting Genesis 5:22 in reference to Enoch. And the Genesis passage wasn't originally written in Greek. It was written in Hebrew. So, naturally, it used a different word when it talked about Enoch.
The author of Hebrews was quoting the Septuagint, which was the Old Testament-translated-into-Greek-from-Hebrew the people who, in those times, very commonly spoke and wrote in Greek).
The phrase that Genesis uses to describe what Enoch did isn't "pleased God." It's, "walked with God." When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the word for "walked" was replaced with "pleased."
Stay with me.
Enoch doesn't play a huge role in Scripture. He only shows up for a whopping FOUR verses in Genesis 5. But he stood out, in his generation and the generations before and after him, as someone who "faithfully walked with God." And that was a pretty big deal at the time, because we're talking about the generations leading up to Noah, when the world was a pretty huge mess.
How did Enoch please God? By walking with God.
How do we please God?
Is it by doing everything perfectly? Or by doing ALL the things? Or by trying not to ever let anyone else down?
We please God by walking with Him.
Which makes it all the more refreshing and amazing that this kind of walking comes with REST. People-pleasing is exhausting, right?
But Jesus says:
"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 any my burden is light," (Matthew 11:28-30).
Pleasing God means rest.
And, if we look at the Greek again, the word for rest in Matthew 11 is a constant word. The kind of rest Jesus offers us isn't a rest for someday when we die. It's a rest for now. And a constant one, at that.
I love this description of the kind of rest Jesus is talking about:
"Christ's 'rest' is not a 'rest' from work, but in work, 'not the rest of inactivity but the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections--of will, heart, imagination, conscience--because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development," (W. E. Vine, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).
To walk with God is to be at rest in Him.
And to be at rest in Him isn't to quit doing everything else. It's to let everything else find "satisfaction and development" in Him completely. To let Him be our voice of approval. It's about giving our "yes," with our whole hearts, to the One who really is best.
"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing," (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV).
Some thoughts to ponder...
- Do you feel there is rest in your life?
- What do you think gets in the way?
- Do you need to lay down any efforts to find your approval in people, rather than God?
- Where can you say, "no" to something for the sake of God's better, "yes"?