Rest First

by Michele McCarthy @MicheleRMcC

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. Matthew 11:29 NASB

God’s call to rest isn’t crawling into bed with a good book (though who couldn’t use a day or two of that now and then)? It’s a much greater call—to live from the place of rest every day. It can take the form of relaxing tense, scrunched up shoulders, choosing to breathe easy in the slow lane of the store or freeway, or trusting Him to promote the call on our life as we keep our focus on our Father.

I have been learning that for me, rest is choosing to be still and listen for daily direction.

While attending a short ministry school, one of the staff members asked me if I wrote. Sure, I thought, grocery lists, to do lists, and the occasional prayer journal. I shrugged and told her, “I kind of write.”

“You should write about your journey to help other people,” she suggested. As outlandish as the suggestion was, and as insignificant as my story was, her words stirred my heart. So I began to write.

I completed my amateurish, boring, sad story of my journey within a few months (book writer skills not included). Pounding computer keys, I put on paper what I thought I was supposed to write. The End. Then I voiced, “God, I’ve written the story, it’s up to You now. I’ve no idea what to do next.”

God’s next beat anything I could have done on my own

I met Linda Evans Shepherd in California, both of us from different states. I misunderstood her to say she was a publisher, since she’d “published” several books (no snickering, I’m new at this). Because of her comment, I knew she’d know how to publish my book, right? So of course, I had to introduce myself. She graciously invited me to the AWSA conference the next month as a protégé.

Attending AWSA felt like I found home. These ladies loved books and loved the Lord even more. I began to wake up with children’s book ideas. The Lord led me to begin working with a writing coach. I felt Him nudging me to attend two different writers’ conferences. My appointments there encouraged me in my projects. I even met a publisher who expressed interest in my book.

All of this was the result of simply obeying what I believed the Lord had called me to do. He’s done the rest. Which brings me to my point.

Rest.

God calls all of us to enter into His rest. First is the rest of salvation: trusting in the work Jesus did on the cross to cover every one of our sins; accepting His gift of grace, understanding we are saved through no efforts of our own. “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Hebrews 4:9-10 NASB).

But there is a second kind of rest. We need never strive while following Him in obedience. As Greg Winfield wrote on faithmessenger.com: “Entering into God’s rest takes place after we have done the will of God in any given situation and are waiting to receive the promise.” We can rest in His power and in His wisdom, trusting that He will be faithful to complete what He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

Our work is to rest in Him.

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Rest First – wisdom from @MicheleRMcC on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

michele mccarthyAbout the author: Michele McCarthy is married and a mom to two sons and Gigi to five adorable grandchildren. She is a Texas Christian University graduate with a degree in Education. She attended Lifestyle Christianity University in Watauga, Texas. Michele is a co-founder of LWT (Living Write Texas), a Christian writing group for women. She loves reading, painting, all things witty, and hot fudge sundaes.

Michele’s book Daddy and Me, is the story of the unconditional love of the Father. Every child is free to picture their own daddy and most importantly their heavenly Father; the Father who loves them perfectly, without reserve, no matter what, while gently holding each child in His hand.

Join the conversation: What does God’s rest mean to you?

Invitation to Rest

by  Leigh Powers

The file folder in my pool bag was calling my name. I’d played with the kids in the water for a while, but an hour sitting next to the pool and enjoying the sun sounded like a good opportunity to look through the research for my next writing project.

I pulled out my highlighter and kept one eye on the kids as they played water tag and slid down the water slide, patting myself on the back for maximizing my productivity. I made it about a third of the way through the stack before I felt the gentle prompting I’ve learned to recognize as the voice of the Spirit. Pause. Rest. Breathe.

I stopped midsentence and looked around the pool. Really, Lord? Here? The pool was crowded with families. The air was full of cheerful babble and the occasional tweets from the lifeguards’ whistles. It wasn’t the place I would have chosen for a quiet interlude.

The gentle whisper came again like a butterfly-soft caress. Rest. I put the cap on my highlighter and closed the folder, then leaned back against my lounge chair. As I sat quietly, I started to take note of details I hadn’t paid attention to before. Bird song flitted beneath the rise and fall of the conversations around me, and the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle mingled with the sharp smell of the chlorine. A familiar verse came to mind: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:2). I felt God’s presence with me. Those few moments of quiet stillness made my soul feel refreshed and restored.

It made me wonder how many times I miss God’s gentle invitation to rest. Life is full of deadlines, to-do’s, and my Mom’s Taxi Service part-time job. Yet I dare not get so busy in my pursuit of what needs doing that I miss God’s invitation to engage with what is eternal. As our Good Shepherd, God knows the needs of our souls. He guides us to what we need—even when what we need is simply a few moments of rest.

Today, be attentive to God’s gentle promptings. Look out the window. Go for a walk. Simply be. Rest in the power and beauty of God’s presence, and let the Good Shepherd restore your soul.

“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.” Matthew 11:29

leigh powersAbout the Author: Leigh Powers is passionate about helping women find hope and healing in God’s word. An author, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mother of three, she loves digging into Scripture and helping others find their places in God’s great story of salvation. Leigh is the author of Renewed: A 40-Day Devotional for Healing from Church Hurt and for Loving Well in Ministry. You can read more from Leigh at her blog, www.leighpowers.com.

Photo by Koko Curio on Unsplash