How God Used an Unexpected Trio to Teach Me About Rest

You know how occasionally God has to allow something fairly profound in your life to get your attention…well, it happened to me last week. It occurred in the form of a high fever and a stomach bug and a scripture in Isaiah.

One of the things I pray for myself continually is that I would have a hearing ear. I heard a sermon series last year about this, and the concept is from a Hebrew word, shama’, which translates “understanding/hearing ear.” 

It’s what Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 3:9 AMP.

So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad…

And I believe God is faithful to answer that prayer continually as I ask Him continually…and yet sometimes my hearing gets deafened. I have blogged about this before. In my natural self, I am a doer. This is probably why I need to continually pray to be a hearer! Then I will hear the truth and do that, instead of just doing whatever I think needs done in my flesh.

So, about the stomach virus. I mean really really, I did nothing but lay on the couch or in bed. My body hurt so bad and I was so incredibly weak. My sweet husband waited on me, my 2 year old was the best behaved he has ever been, and I rested. And I believe the Lord reminded me of something HUGE in my sickness. That I am not invincible. That I can do almost everything humanly possible to be radically healthy, and sometimes that means your body has to fight off a really bad bug, and mine did. He gently reminded me that I am not able to keep going and going and going without time to recharge. Being sick made me incredibly thankful for my health and for the fact that God allows me to stay well 99.9% of the time. And I kept feeling the Lord press on me how important it is for me to rest.

As women in general, this is not something that happens often in our lives. There is always something to be done, always someone to take care of, always a task to be accomplished. I think there are a lot more Marthas than Marys in our world today. But, I heard God reminding me that it is not okay.

I was exhausted last week, but the reality is that I was exhausted before I got sick. Are you exhausted? I know what you are thinking, “Heavens no! Don’t you see my perfectly ironed cape flowing behind me beautifully as I fly from one place to another, incessantly running to and fro serving, delivering, picking up, dropping off, grocery shopping, organic cooking, cleaning, working, typing, playing, reading books, helping my husband, organizing, teaching, planning, loving…”

And those things are good! And they are necessary!

And they are not to be done at the exclusion of stopping all the motion and commotion…and resting.

You and I need rest. Yes, that is what He taught me through a high fever, a stomach bug…and a scripture in Isaiah that He had me reading and studying for the 5 days BEFORE my affliction ensued.

Now, I fully believe as a New Testament Christian that we are free from the law because Jesus fulfilled it, so when you read this scripture in reference to my point, I am not suggesting that we go back into captivity under the Law of Moses and rigidly keep a mandate that we have been freed from under the cross of Jesus Christ. That said, there is benefit and blessing to be received when we observe Sabbath rest.

Isaiah 58:13 NLT:

Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.

Isaiah 58:13 from the Message:

If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, 
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, 
God’s holy day as a celebration,
 If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual, ’
making money, running here and there—

If you read my short post from last week “Who is your #1?“, you will remember this concept. As Jesus Followers we are to sell our entire lives out as worship to the Lord. I believe in 7 days-a-week, everything we do, 100% committed to representing Jesus in our homes, our cars, on our phones and laptops, on our Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest accounts, our church, our offices or places of vocation outside the home, in our relationships, where we shop, wherever we set our foot, in the mundane, and in the insanely important.

My point is this: Do we set aside one day out of seven where we really honor the Lord with a day of rest, where we truly do not pursue our own interests. Do we really enjoy that day, (if we ever really take a day of rest) and speak of it with DELIGHT? Do we resist following our own desires, do we resist idle words and chatter?  Do we tune-in and seek what He would be pleased for us to do that day?

In the past months, I have gotten really good at worshipping while I’m doing all my activities. For example, I honestly have been able to do mundane chores with joy because I honestly praise the Lord while I am doing them. It has been such a life-giving activity to exercise gratitude while doing dishes and overflow with thankfulness as I’m cooking dinner. But, when I was laying there on what felt like my death-bed for a couple days, and I read those verses in Isaiah over and over, I turned my face up to the Lord and I said, “God, I never do this, not ever for a whole day.” And He lovingly told me through His Word that He loves me so much and wants my obedience in this.  He wants my obedience in this because it is for my good!

And I’m going to tell you that it took a massive fever and stomach bug for me to do the rest thing, the stopping of all the doing.  And it worked. He was right. Listen to the verse that follows:

Isaiah 58:14

…THEN the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

 Listen to it in the Message bible:

Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
  Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
 I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
  Yes! God says so!

Yes, I believe God said so to me!  And I’m different now. Dishes can wait 1 day (well, let’s be honest, my dishes are accustomed to waiting 3 or 4 days, so maybe your dishes can wait 1 day).  The list of errands can wait 1 day and all the running here and there. Complicated menus can take a 1 day break. And I can enjoy a day like this. I can still love and give and serve but I can rest, too.  I have the freedom on this day to treat this day as a celebration of Who God is, to remember what He has done, and it can be a day of joy.  

Sometimes with our ADD society, I think we see rest as boredom.  And I am guilty, guilty, guilty!  But, what I have to remember is that God never asks us to do something that will not completely transform our lives for the receiving of more abundant blessing!

God promises that He will be our delight because of taking a day like this.  Perhaps few things are more important than our delight and our joy being found in NO OTHER PERSON OR THING but Our God Himself!

Immediately my mind goes to Psalm 37:3-4 AMP when I think about delighting in the Lord.

Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.

Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.

We can only trust our heart’s desires when our greatest delight is Jesus Himself.  He told us that the greatest commandment is to Love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength.  Not part.  Not what is leftover after we have spent every waking moment thinking about and checking-off our incessant to-do lists.  It seems to me that I hear God best when my life and mind are not jam-packed with so much I can’t think straight to begin with.

When you and I take 1 day to rest our hearts and minds and bodies and use that day to focus completely on God and His abundant goodness, that is what gives us strength.

Nehemiah 8:10 says that they joy of the Lord IS our strength.

And something really fascinating is that God delights in us, too. The reason He wants our uninterrupted attention and affection is so that we can be aware of His toward us!

Zephaniah 3:17 AMP  is one of my very favorite scriptures I give to encourage people who are feeling overwhelmed. I do this because God has used this scripture to minister to me so many times!

The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing.

Psalm 18:19 says:

He led me to a place of safety;
                                                                    He rescued me because He delights in me.

Nothing that you or I could do or accomplish can make Him love or delight in us more than He already does.

But, I know that I desire to delight in Him more.  How about you?

His promises are right and they are true. He tells us point blank in Isaiah 58:13-14

  • IF you and I want to delight in Him
  • IF we want to experience true satisfaction
  • IF we are to receive all that He has for us
  • THEN we should take a day to rest, He did in Genesis 2:3!
  • THEN we should stop our personal pursuits, idle talk, and life as usual for 1 day
  • THEN we should really enjoy and honor and celebrate the Lord for the whole day

IF we will obey…He will come through.  And sisters, when He is our greatest delight…that changes everything.  Are you in?   I’m praying for you as you walk this thing out, we are all works-in-progress, and our God is awesome and kind and His delight is all over you.  He is worthy and He is worth it.  Love y’all…

isaiah58.13coral

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