This is the final part of a mini-series on the Bible verses which I imagine will underpin this blog, at least for now. The other posts are here, here and here. If you’re encouraged by it, please share it with someone you think would be encouraged too. Thank you!
As I mentioned in a previous post in this series, some of my friends and I recently attended a truly brilliant women’s conference at our church. The church has a prophetic ministry team who were asked in advance to share God’s heart with every delegate on the conference. It was done anonymously – I believe a system of ‘numbering’ the delegates was used, and the words were then typed up into cards which were presented to us as we arrived. For me, a member of the team gave me the verses, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake’ (Psalm 23:1-3). S/he also had a picture for me, of a speed sign on a road, indicating the maximum speed to go. S/he sensed that the Lord was telling me to slow down, to rest more, and have more time for myself.
I wonder if you have ever felt like you were living life above the speed-limit? I definitely have! It started when I was a teenager, working too hard for GCSEs, and has taken various forms since then. A desire to work and be useful is a good thing, but like all desires, it can go either way. Today I’ve been reading Romans 6 and listening to this excellent talk on that passage by a friend who leads a church in York. In Romans 6, Paul describes what happens when we allow God to be in control of our desires, and what happens when sin gets hold of them. In his talk my friend looks at the distorting effect of sin upon various desires, including the desire for work and purpose. He suggests that when sin gets hold of that desire, the consequence is that we become ‘workaholics’, believing that we’re indispensable. I think this is actually a pretty big problem when I start to think like this. It can only go one way – I lurch from believing I’m indispensable to believing I can’t stop – then I’m exhausted and need a rest. However, I’m actually feeling guilty about resting (because I’ve believed the lie that I’m indispensable), so I don’t rest.
There is another way.
I have the pleasure of being part of a church-affiliated small group, all of whose members have (or regularly care for) young children and serve in a host of other brilliant roles besides. These girls are putting faith into action, they’re extending the kingdom in York, and it’s inspiring! Unsurprisingly, we often talk in the group about ‘being kind to ourselves’. I find it easy to advise everyone else about this, suggesting clever strategies each of my friends could employ to ‘ease your burden’ and ‘be refreshed’. Of course, looking out for each other like this is a crucial part of being in of the group, but I had my eyes opened one day when a member of the group prayed that we would each include ourselves in this kindness. Radical, eh?! But it’s there, in Romans 6 – we are now no longer under the law, but under grace (verse 14). Sin has lost its power over us. We can choose to let sin reign again, or we can choose to let God reign in his mighty power. And the consequence of letting him reign is the gift of eternal life (verse 23).
Was I obedient to God’s call to slow down? For a while, yes. Blogging really helped me to apply it during the week following the conference. (I have to be at home to blog, for one thing!) After a few weeks I was slipping back into workaholic habits again though, cosying up with my old friend, the Law. And I made the excuse to myself that it was because it was the end of term and ‘just a busy time’. Seriously!
The lie: That I need to be working all the time. Any kind of rest is bad. The world will most likely stop turning if I stop working!
The truth (which I’m still learning!): Jesus wants to lead us beside quiet waters and refresh our souls (Psalm 23:2-3). When we do serve, it should be from this place of rest.
On that note, I’m going away on holiday next week (if the world does stop turning, you’ll know why! 😉 ) Goodbye and God bless! X
– Have you ever been told to slow down?
– Did you do it?!
– Have you got any nice plans for the summer?