Time to Lay Down Your Burdens

by Julie Zine Coleman

He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23:2b-3a NASB

The longest river in the world, the Nile, flows 4,130 miles from its headwaters in Africa’s mountainous lakes region to the Mediterranean. Sediments from as far away as Rwanda are carried northward by the force of the water as it plummets over falls and sweeps through channels in relentless movement toward the sea. Near the mouth, the river meets the sea. Suddenly the water slows down, and at the loss of energy drops its sediment to the river bottom. Thousands of years’ worth of these deposits have resulted in the famous Nile Delta, an enormous landform easily seen from space.

Sometimes it takes slowing down before a burden can be deposited. David knew this fact well. He wrote about his Good Shepherd: “He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” Before David could be restored, he had to be brought to a place of rest.

I didn’t used to be much on slowing down. As I raced through each day, tyranny of the urgent ran my agenda. We were raising four children, and I was working full time, throwing my energy into my fifth graders. Even my service in the church held the same frantic urgency. The busyness eventually took its toll on me, and I began to experience physical problems related to stress. But even then, slowing down didn’t seem like a viable option.

Then I went to seminary. One of the classes I was required to take was on spiritual disciplines. I was a bit skeptical from the first time I walked in the door. I wanted to do biblical exegesis; I wasn’t big on topical study. I took it because I had to. But I wasn’t going to like it.

As the class dragged on, I began to count the sessions until it would be over. Then one morning, as the class neared its end, we were told to go find a quiet place in nature and sit there for one hour, just listening to what God had to say to us. An hour? Of listening? Seemed a bit ridiculous to me. I reluctantly collected a notebook and a pen to record all of those messages I would supposedly receive and headed out to find a tree.

“OK, here I am,” I begrudgingly informed God. “Fire away.” My mind was full of the papers I had to write, the books I had to read, the Greek I had to translate. I could use this hour so much more effectively. I could hardly sit still. My frame of mind was anything but conducive to listening.

But as the hour dragged on, I tried to relax and at least appreciate the peace and quiet. I began to perceive the Lord’s presence. Not that he hadn’t been there all along, mind you. I was just too preoccupied to notice.

I started to bask in the love and grace he has lavished on me. My thoughts went to his greatness and power and faithfulness, his mercies that were new every morning. I began to thank him for loving me and for the blessings he has put into my undeserving life. Suddenly, my former agenda seemed very shallow. I prayed again, this time with an open heart and mind. “Lord, show me what you desire,” I pleaded.

God began to invade my thoughts. He wanted my heart more than my efforts. I was carrying too many burdens. It was time to put them down. So I did. I gave him my worries about finishing my studies successfully. I gratefully handed over concerns about my fledgling adult children awkwardly spreading their wings. My fears and anxieties fell off my shoulders as he impressed on me his power and ability to handle it all. And when the hour was up, I walked away feeling freer than I had been for a very long time.

We Americans are busy people. In our drive for productivity, we pick up burdens we don’t have time to lay back down. The Covid crisis has temporarily knocked a lot of that out of us. If you haven’t already, embrace the reduction in activity.

Find a quiet corner in your house. Sit down unencumbered by routine distractions and open your heart to him. As we embark on a new year, make it a priority to give God the time he deserves. Don’t go to him with an agenda. Let him set the pace. And as he leads you beside quiet waters, you will be restored.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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About the authorJulie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: How do you create quiet time to spend with the Lord?

Recognizing Your Spacious Place

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.                                                                                                                       Psalm 23:2-3 NASB

Just about every time we come to a stop in traffic, I’ll hear my husband grumble. “Can I just live in a place where there’s not so much traffic and where I’m not so crowded in? Why do I have to sit on the freeways? Where can I get a little open space?”

I can relate to his heart’s cry. I feel it, too – at the end of every week – when that urge returns to get outdoors and walk. To climb a mountain, walk in the grass, breathe deeply of mountain air – all those things I can’t do while I’m living in a fast-growing city in a crowded part of Southern California. Yet, my heart still longs for a “spacious place.”

In Psalm 18, when David cried to the Lord to be rescued from his enemies, he told of God’s thunderous response and then summed it up by saying:

“He brought me out to a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19 NIV).

God rescued David from his enemies by bringing him “out to a spacious place.”

When the enemies of busyness, stress, and fatigue press in – and when I feel the pressure to work harder, run faster, achieve more, only to be exhausted from the endless rat race – it is then that I realize how badly I need my spacious place.

Sometimes our spacious place is a relaxing vacation or some time off from work. Other times our spacious place is a missed opportunity that gives us some down time, a closed door or cancelled trip – which causes us to slow down and rethink where to go next. It could even be a layoff from work, an injury that stops us in our tracks, or an illness that suddenly finds us bedridden.

And sometimes, God allows alone times in our lives as a spacious place to get alone with Him – an open, airy place to meet, hear from Him, talk with Him, and just be with Him.

When we find ourselves in a lonely or frustrating place with not much going on, not many friends around, or not much hope in front of us, God may have just brought us “out to a spacious place” to be with Him. We just need to realize it is our rescue.

Lord, on the days that I feel overwhelmed and pressed in, help me to cry out for my spacious place and make some time to be with You. And on those days when I have not much going on, not much hope in front of me, or no one beside me, remind me of the spacious place You have blessed me with so I can spend some time alone with You.

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View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including her best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 130,000 copies sold), When You’re Running on EmptyWhen God Sees Your Tearsand Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, or for more information on her coaching services to help you write the book on your heart, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Join the conversation: When is the last time God gave you rest? Please share your experience.

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