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Rest

I was going to write a blog on ‘trust’ and then I read Hebrews 4 that is about the rest of God and realised afresh that trusting is just like resting. As Christians, we believe that the finished work of Christ happened when Jesus died and He exclaimed while hanging on a cross, ‘It is finished’, meaning that the work He came to do was accomplished. Jesus came to rescue mankind from the ravages of a sin-filled life that we all have until God wipes our slate clean. When Jesus died and rose from the dead, the power of God was extended to us who simply believe and trust what God has done and said. His death, signified in his blood, has bought us freedom to live and move and have our being, simply trusting God our Maker and Creator. So, in essence the work is done in freeing us up, but we have to live it out. That’s the hard bit but only God can bring us into balance.

Recently, when I got overwhelmed with so many plates I seemed to be juggling concerning family issues, work issues and personal stuff, I had a “Eureka moment” when I realised that God had paid the price even for my muddles. Being my Heavenly Father, as well as my Saviour, he won’t allow anything to come to me unless He gives permission for it. So, if we consider the guy ‘Job’ who God allowed to suffer and gave permission for satan to test, then we see how Job struggled but kept trusting who God was and is. He rested in knowing that His Redeemer lived even though he wrestled with what his friends told him. God gave him back what he had lost and more and gave him a very long life also.

God can be trusted. When all was done in the creation of our world, then God himself rested. We, too, can rest in God, even “abide” as John’s gospel states (John 15:1) in the finished work of Him setting us free. We just need to pursue what He asks of us on a daily basis.

Children are able to go to bed really early and get a huge portion of sleep that enables them to grow in stature as well as in their emotional and spiritual development. We are so like children needing regular rest but in fact we can choose a lifestyle of rest, trusting God and simply doing what he asks of us. Then the pressure is off – all we’re about is His work, taking hold of His yoke, learning to be gentle and humble and casting our burdens back to Him who knows us so well.

Quiet

I went to The Sisters of Jesus Way in West Kirby, Wirral, for a quiet day the other day with various church friends including my elderly mum. We think that it was the hottest day of the year so far and we relished in the shade while looking out at the beauty around, made even more exquisite by the sun. The subject for the day was ‘The Voice of God’. We had various Scriptures to look at and introductions to these during each segment of the day and then we each were alone with God.

It is so good to be quiet, to rest and think and listen and stop the mad pace of life for a few hours. It really was a tonic and again I was able to hear the gentle quiet voice of the Lord (not audibly) giving direction especially at this time when we have no carers and learning to adapt isn’t straightforward. I’m again reminded how intense I can be and how God is not like this. He woos us with love and his kindness and gentleness in his daily provisions to us is amazing and so helpful.

God knows us each by name. He made us as we are, uniquely and wonderfully, although so often we look at our flaws not realising just what a work of art God has made with each one of us. God wants the best for us at all times and if we would just relax and abide (I love that word) He will do the rest. We’re called to trust Him and that involves leaning on him when everything around seems to say do otherwise.

I’m reminded of the Scripture “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15). As we learn to abide in God then the confidence can flow and the strength can follow as we cease from our own works and do his.

In this busy life, I need to pause more, be quiet and let God speak. I can come to him daily, as is my habit, but even then the busyness of the day ahead can overwhelm me. So, I highly recommend taking a chunk of time out regularly.

How we need to train our children to be still even through the holidays – well we can aim at it!.  Even young children can easily curl up with ‘The Creation Series’ and see what God has already done and given them as they look at the wonderful illustrations in this set of books.

Letting Go!

Yesterday, I attended the burial service of a dear housegroup leader of my late husband. During this time, a poem was read that encouraged us to let him go.

I was in a similar position when in hospital when the doctors said that they couldn’t help my husband. A dear brother in Christ said to me ‘You’ll have to let him go’. I was believing for healing for my husband at the time and wasn’t able to do this then but as time has gone by after the Lord took my Mike home to be with Himself, I am learning to let go.

There are so many areas of our lives where we need to let go and let God. The many challenges that we face as humans sometimes can get us all frustrated but if we dare to believe God, that He will come through to work everything together for good (see Romans 8:28) then we can rest in Him. I have just received an email that tells me just that. I am such a slow learner! God can be trusted – I’ve proved Him so many times!

Our children need to know how to face the challenges around them. So often they can compare themselves (as we adults do, too) with others and not realise that they are amazing and unique in their own right as God has made them. As we adults learn to rest in God and let Him be in control, then our children can feel the safety and security of knowing that their Heavenly Father is in charge and will bring a good outcome.

‘Diamond Books’ exist to bless children with the ways and truths of God as shown in the Bible. Some children, even here in the UK, have no idea about Jesus and His love for them. So, I’m encouraging as many as can, to purchase a set of ‘The Creation Series‘ and give them to some child/children who may not be aware that God made everything and has a wonderful plan for each life even when we/they blow it and need forgiveness.

Resting Place

It’s so good to have places where we know we can rest or relax but there is one place that can fit all. We were made to love God and enjoy Him forever and when that dimension of relating to God is missing then we miss out on God’s balance and provision for our lives.

We can rest in our homes, we can rest in the countryside, we can rest even while doing physical activity like walking, we can rest by having a snooze and we can rest by just stopping our usual activities. The deep rest that God gives is in our hearts as we make a place for Him. If He has first place in our lives then our resting place can be available to us at any time. We are to rest from our human labours and gain His resources to do whatever He has called us to do. Then, the pressure is off to achieve or do better than others or even to satisfy our our beings. Having a resting place in God is sufficient for us to thrive and be at peace as human beings.

Our children, more than ever before, need these quiet oases of space and peace. Sometimes, especially if introverts, children will take themselves off to their bedroom or a den (in the garden perhaps) and read or use their latest gadgets or use their computer or phone to have a resting place or even in large families to use the bathroom as a quiet spot!. However, even more so than earlier generations of children, they need to have that inner resting place by being in tune with God.  Setting time aside for God is vital for us adults but also for our children to develop the habit of getting to know God for themselves. The Bible, being the word of God, is very important for a child to read. Hence, the Bible based reading books that our project supplies. Because the visual is so important, the illustrations can speak to children, too and help them to grasp the truths that God wants to show them.

Here in the UK, the Sunday trading laws are still limited to 6 hours a day. Having a day of being in a different slower routine works wonders for the soul. God instituted a day of rest each week for our benefit not for us to get hung up about it. He loves us enough to suggest the best way to go about living our lives.

Jesus spent much time with His Father when here on earth. He had a busy schedule and literally the world to save yet he savoured the resting place to recharge and to gain the wisdom and direction He needed. He spent hours at a time, even whole nights in prayer with His Father. So with us, we need to model our lives on Him and seek this place of rest tangibly each day and within our hearts from moment to moment. Then, the  high stress levels can come down and we can be at peace with our Maker who knows how individually each of us ticks.

The Contemporary English Bible puts it  this way – it’s Jesus talking: “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on you shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.” Be blessed in His resting place!

Acuity – what is this?

When God named some foundation stones for my life while embarking on ‘The Diamond Books’ project, he named one stone as being ‘acuity’.  I had to grab my dictionary to find out the meaning of this word and found out much to my amazement that it means mental alertness which I knew immediately was to do with my sleeping habits. God wanted me mentally alert so it has meant that I have had to discipline myself to go to bed early to get the sleep I need. However, I have a confession to make as sometimes I don’t keep to the routine God has set for me and then often I feel the sluggishness of my mind the following day. Oh to be more diligent!

Also, acuity implies keeping one’s brain active so I seek to eat the super foods that are able to boost the brain, e.g. milled flaxseed, sunflower seeds, blueberries, broccolli, blackcurrants and other wonderful foods God provides. However, again I have a confession to make as so easily I binge eat and have foods that are not good or helpful for my body to be in good shape which of course affects my mental capacity, too.

Then, there are the crosswords to do and Suduko and other challenging puzzles – all helpful to develop acuity. So the challenges continue.

It is only when I am abiding and resting in God’s finished work and realise that I cannot add to what Jesus has already done, that I can relax in his care and not have to eat unnecessarily or fritter time on the computer late at night (iPlayer particularly!). When I learn what God wants of me in a given day, I can complete the tasks he gives and then rest back knowing I’ve done what he wanted which is so incredibly satisfying. Walking and living in the Spirit of God is fabulous – there is nothing quite like it. He gives fulfilment. Then I can realise afresh that nothing happens by accident but by the design of the Creator who is weaving his purposes out even in writing books while pursuing the project he has given me to do.

However, Jesus our model didn’t always keep to a pattern with sleeping or eating. Sometimes he spent all night in prayer, sometimes he fasted and prayed but he seemed to have a daily pattern of rising early before it was light to have time with his Father God. How I need to put the regular priorities in place yet be available for when the Holy Spirit calls to do something differently from the usual pattern while numbering my days and redeeming the time.

How I need to be wholly obedient to my Maker’s instructions and be wise in going to bed early and eating properly. Then, he can have more access to my mind that I am told to love God with so that he can place within my thinking the ideas and creativity as well as reminders of what is needed in different parts of the project at different times as I learn to be sensitive to his leading.

Discipline is something we don’t talk too much about when it comes to training our children but the Bible speaks clearly about it (especially in the book of Proverbs) e.g. “Teach a child how he should live, and he will remember it all his life.” (Proverbs 22:6 – Good News Bible) So, let’s help our children to grow in acuity as they make choices along the way. Diamond Books can help with this.

Pressure

I do and I don’t work well under pressure. So often the pressure I face is of my own making. However, to get the balance in life is never easy and I certainly am not good at this. However, I do seem to rise to a challenge after the initial shock of finding out what it is!
Jesus knew about the pressures we would face and gave us His word to help us in our dilemmas. He said,
“If you are tired from carrying burdens,come to Me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30 (Contemporary English version of the Bible). It’s doing what he says that counts and can give us rest. We can cease striving from our own way of doing things and learn his way of working which is far more restful than the usual run of things.
With 973 days to go to complete the writing of this project, I need to learn that there is no pressure to finish. This project is God’s work – he happens to be using me and my wonderful team of people for this but he could have used anyone. He is the Father Manager of it all – I just need to listen more and then be more obedient.
I’m aware that the apostle Paul had a huge number of pressures and challenges (see the long list in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28). Yet, he did not succumb to self pity or revenge or unforgiveness. He kept going believing the best and endeavouring to bless those who were doing him harm. God only allows what he wants for each of our lives and he makes no mistakes even if from a human standpoint a situation might seem disastrous or even hopeless. God has a wonderful way of weaving everything together for good (Romans 8:28).
So as we seek to enter the rest of God, ceasing from our own works and doing his, our children will catch on and learn perhaps even earlier in their lives than we did (or in my case learning to do) that the Christian life is all about abiding in God’s love so that His fruit of love ie patience, self-control, goodness, kindness, peace, faithfulness and gentleness can be evident to all.

Cramming

Are you, like me, cramming as much into life as possible? I’ve always had this tendency but sometimes it feels like putting gallons of water into a pint glass (yes, I’m of the old school that still doesn’t recognise these in metric) . Somehow as Robin Williams said in ‘Dead Poets Society’ – “Seize the Day” to me this seems to resonate well. However, there are pitfalls.

I love variety and I think that this is as good as a rest but sometimes what I try to pack into life is beyond what God wants.  We can have good intentions and motives but if God isn’t in what we do then it is just a waste of time and won’t be rewarded (not that we need to aim for a reward).

In this busy world that our children get born into, we need those oases of peace and rest to recharge and to get balance and order.  That’s why, I’m convinced that our creator God gave us one day a week to recuperate and not have to work.  I must admit I love Sundays even though sometimes they get crammed with church and having people round to see us or just bits to see to.  How we need to introduce this pattern to children.

God’s order for his creation is always best as he knows us all so well.  If God needed to take a rest after his eventful week of creation at the beginning of time how we need to follow his example.  Of course, children love routines and getting into this different rest day and not cramming in what we usually fit into a day is great for them, too. Encourage them to have a look at Book 1 of ‘The Creation Series’  – called ‘God’s World’ -and see how God made everything and then took a rest.

Cramming as much into a sweet jar might be fun but the end product of actually eating all the sweets isn’t that beneficial although nice while its happening! It’s the same with cramming so much into our lives that we hardly have time to breathe.  When was the last time you took time to smell a rose or talk face to face with a child or phone a long lost friend? “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) God recommends.  How about you?

Being Quiet

Waiting, resting and quietly waiting for God may seem alien in our society but so necessary to be able to hear God and move with him. I have been challenged by Doctor Howard Morgan (from the States who is visiting the UK at present) to spend a day not saying anything.

I’ve decided to take up the challenge of having a partial day in silence with notebook and Bible to hand and see what transpires. Even though we have all our gadgets and media stuff, the still small voice of God needs to be heard if, as Christians, we are to be effective.

I’m aware that Moses spent a lot of time alone with God – two lots of 40 days at least.  He had no notebook or Bible and yet the presence of God must have been tangible and very fulfilling to him.  Jesus Christ, of course, spent 40 days in the wilderness before he set out on the ministry that his Father had called him to do. He was filled with the Spirit before going there and came out in the power of the Holy Spirit. This enabled him to do all the miracles and wonderful deeds that we know about from the 4 Gospels of the Bible. John says at the end of his gospel that these accounts were just a bit of what he did and all the books in the world couldn’t contain what Jesus did in entirety.

Amongst all the hustle and bustle of this world, let’s give God time to speak and communicate with us ordinary people who have an extraordinary God who was able to part seas, burn up a soaking wet altar, raise people from the dead, rescue a man from lions, protect some young men from fire, and cause a huge wide city wall to collapse just by his people obeying him by walking (silently) and then blowing trumpets and shouting.  It all sounds so foolish but then God takes the foolish things of this world and surprises the so called wise people with what God can do!

Let’s continue to honour God with our lives laid down so that whatever he wants to do with us we’ll say ‘yes’ and not argue or make excuses.  We only have one life to lead on this planet – let’s simply be available to the Highest!

Holidays

Stopping! Relaxing! Chilling out! Listening to God! Being free to be! Enjoying the wonders of creation!  All phrases that could mean the same thing – but essentially needed in order for us humans to keep in balance.

How amazing that God created the world and then when he made humans he took a rest. He, being our Maker, knows we need that time out, away from the crowd, not in routine but taking in from Him.

We’ve just taken  a few days off and wondered into South Shropshire to a place called Stottesdon where we enjoyed loads of sunshine and the most idyllic bed and breakfast accommodation. The weather was glorious for November and we were able to take walks and look around the little country towns and villages.  We didn’t even see one large supermarket for the whole of the trip – that’s Britain at it’s best!

Would recommend the pattern of 6 weeks at work and taking one week off which is the routine I use while working on Diamond Books.  Also, the pattern of 6 days working and a day off works well, too – but then our Creator suggested it so it would work very well.  Whatever, he asks us to do always has a good outcome even if the process is sometimes difficult.

God is so interested in our growth and development more than we realise.  On holiday, I felt God impressing on me that I was in a millstone situation whereby God is grinding the self out of me so that I can learn to abide in Him more readily and say ‘no’ to self and selfishness.  Knowing what He is about makes it easier to swallow when the grinding wheel moves!

Let’s allow Him to mould us and guide us concerning our holiday times.  Even if we can’t get away we can put our feet up and read and just be.  I often do jigsaw puzzles with classical music in the background to relax at such times.  Making cards with pressed wild flowers in another pastime I love doing to relax although I haven’t done this for years!  Then there’s the knitting and watching a good film.  Whatever you do may His rest be yours as we seek to honour Him with our lives laid before Him.