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Girlfriends in God - July 30, 2007

July 30, 2007

No Time for Rest

Mary Southerland




Today’s truth

Psalm 23:1-3 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul…” (NIV)


Friend to friend

For most of my adult life, I have wrongly equated being busy with being productive. I am guilty as charged when it comes to living each day in overdrive. My Day Timer has, at times, been my Bible. The result has always, always been exhaustion, burnout and watered down living. Everything looked great on the outside – but when I was alone, just God and me, we both knew that the façade I had so carefully erected was a spiritual monument to self promotion and pride-filled goals. The house built upon the sand seemed like very familiar digs - and I was not alone.


We are all masters of rationalizing our way to approval. The problem is that the approval we gain comes from impotent and lifeless sources. I am convinced that if we are willing to surrender our lives to the tyranny of the urgent, the enemy will keep them coming – people who need you immediately, those who clamor for your attention above your family and personal relationship with God, the person who can talk to no one but you, and the list goes on. What ego strokes they offer! And what futility.


I have always loved music and began taking piano lessons at the age of five. I will never forget that first piano lesson with Mrs. McKenzie, a very sweet, elderly woman who played the piano beautifully. Her hair was slightly blue, her house smelled like lemon drops and she had clocks that chimed and rang every fifteen minutes. I was so excited and so ready to play the piano like my sister who played for our church worship services. Betty was amazing and I was desperately hoping that same musical ability ran in our family.


"Let's get started," Mrs. McKenzie said. I climbed up on the piano bench, waiting for her brilliant instruction to begin. She placed a bright, red piano book in front of me and invited me to open it to the first page. I was disappointed to see only little, black pictures. Where was the music? Where were the songs? Mrs. McKenzie smiled as she patiently began to explain the musical symbols pictured in the book before me. I soon grew restless. "What's the matter?" she asked. "I want to play the piano, please," I sweetly responded. With a knowing smile, she said, "We'll get to that." I wasn’t happy. On and on – for what seemed like hours, Mrs. McKenzie pointed to funny-shaped black symbols, named them and explained their meaning. I was not impressed. I just wanted to get my hands on that keyboard.


Sensing my impatience, Mrs. McKenzie pointed to one of the symbols on the page before me and said, "Mary, this small, black box is called a 'rest' and is one of the most important symbols in music." I simply didn’t care. It did nothing but sit on a page in useless and unproductive silence. I wanted music. "Do you know why rests are so important in music?" she persisted. Obviously, I had no clue. She then said something I remember to this day, "The music that comes after the rest is the most beautiful music of all." At the time, I didn’t understand the deeper meaning of those words, but life and time have illustrated their importance and their truth.


The best part of life comes after we rest in God. The most beautiful service follows time at His feet. Rest is a powerful part of our life song. Just as the rest in music prepares the listener for what comes next, time spent in rest is an invaluable time of preparation and restoration. Yet, we often buy the enemy’s lie that to rest is a waste. The psalmist disagrees when he writes, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures…He restores my soul…” (Psalm 23:2-3) Understand that if we refuse to rest, the Father will “make” us rest. The good news is that time spent in rest is the prelude of God’s restoration.


For years, I filled every waking moment with activity. I lived by the principle that busy people are productive people. It was only after I crashed and burned that I learned the eternal value of rest and stillness. This pivotal life lesson is stated in the simple words of a shepherd: Psalm 23:2 “He leads me beside quiet waters.” The psalmist writes this soothing promise from the perspective of a shepherd tending his flock of sheep. A good shepherd understands the truth that sheep are never fully at ease around rushing water because every sheep innately knows that the weight of their wool – when wet – will drown them. A wise shepherd understands that he must lead his sheep beside still waters, to a place of rest. The sheep only has to follow.


Let’s pray

Dear Father, help me to accept and understand the fact that You created me with a need for rest. Help me to be obedient and not feel guilty when I do rest. I want to do what You want me to do, Father. I want to do Your will and follow the plan You have for me. I accept the physical limitations of my body and choose to honor You with it by setting aside time to rest. In Jesus’ name. Amen


More from the girlfriends

I am just terrible at this rest thing! I start well…early bedtime…naps when tired…right amount of sleep…and then a writing deadline looms or preparation for a speaking engagement calls…laundry mounts or…you get the idea. All of my good intentions go right out the window and I end up exhausted again. You know what I do? Start again. Don’t give up and give in, girlfriend. Start again! Today, make the commitment to carve out a daily time to spend in rest. Sit at His feet. Allow Him to restore, replenish and refocus your heart and mind. Then rise to walk and live by the “quiet waters” of rest.


Now it’s your turn

Choose a time and place where you can rest.

Give yourself permission to rest, remembering that the choice to rest is a choice of obedience to God.

Read Psalm 23 every day and record the benefits of rest in your life.


For more on this topic, check out Mary’s CD Experiencing God Daily.




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