Choosing to Rest in the Lord
by Dianne Barker
Have you learned to rest in the Lord? What does that term mean anyway? And how would a Jesus-follower practice this thing called resting? We use the words lightly, giving little thought to what we’re saying.
Webster includes in the definition of rest:
- “to cease from action or motion”
- “refrain from labor or exertion”
- “to be free from anxiety or disturbance”
Resting in the Lord involves all of this. I knew how to rest in the Lord as well as anyone, I thought…until a series of events taught me how to put these three points into practice.
A friend I’d been mentoring called to share a heartbreak. At the end of her story, she said, “But I’ve put the matter in God’s hands and I have my rest back.”
I thought, Whoa! The student has learned the lesson better than the teacher.
Soon afterwards, in a discussion with my teenage daughter, I mentioned an upcoming event I was planning with a friend and her son. Thinking I was setting her up for a date, she responded, “That has your fingerprints all over it.” Her comment opened my eyes to watch for circumstances bearing my fingerprints.
Once in a hard place, I cried out to the Lord, “This is out of my hands!” In my spirit I heard this: “And you’re crying because it’s out of your feeble hands and into My almighty hands?”
To rest—ceasing from action or motion—I hand the matter to the Lord completely, leaving no fingerprints.
One memorable day I learned to refrain from labor or exertion. I’d agreed to write a book for a lifelong friend about his experiences during fifty years in evangelism. Since he lived in Florida, far from my Tennessee home, I spent hours interviewing him by phone. He ended almost every conversation with a Scripture, often quoting Psalm 55:22.
“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
That promise had embedded itself in my heart when I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen since childhood. She was in a hard place. Her husband had left her unexpectedly and she worked two jobs to make ends meet. I wanted to encourage her and promised to send one of my books. After signing my name, I added, “Remembering carefree days.” Suddenly the Lord spoke in my heart.
I still have a program for carefree living. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
Casting my cares on the Lord is the easy part. The hard part is leaving them in His almighty hands. In Psalm 37, I found a how-to: trust in the Lord; delight in the Lord; commit your way to the Lord; rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him.
Trust, delight, commit, rest, wait. Practicing this changed my desperation to confident expectation. I can refrain from labor or exertion by casting all my cares on the Lord and leaving them there.
Living this way is a moment-by-moment choice, and I needed more help to live free from anxiety or disturbance. A favorite passage came to mind.
“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Rejoicing, praying without ceasing and giving thanks are God’s will for me. But there’s a problem. I don’t always feel like doing that.
Breaking news! I can live by decision—to rejoice, pray and give thanks, regardless of circumstances. That’s the key to living free from anxiety or disturbance.
What about those times when life just becomes too much—too many cares and snares? Our enemy, intent on interrupting our rest, bombards our mind with worry, planting negative thoughts and suggesting what-ifs. Once, weary of wrestling that scoundrel, I cried, “Lord, where on earth is the rest?”
His reply: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
That’s the resting place…His presence. There we learn of Him, the One who is meek and lowly in heart. We choose—an act of the will, not feeling—to trust, delight, commit, rest and wait.
Circumstances rarely bring us rest. Rest is what God brings to our circumstances. Today, more than any other time in history, we need to corral fearful thoughts and activate our faith, trusting the promises in God’s Word.
I love this precious picture of Moses before his death as he pronounced a blessing on the Israelites. “About Benjamin he said: ‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders’” (Deuteronomy 33:12).
Resting in the Lord isn’t a vague concept. It’s a sweet place where we cease from action or motion, refrain from labor or exertion, and live free from anxiety or disturbance resting in His presence.
Does this sound too complicated? Let me make it easy for you.
Learning to rest is as simple as saying, “Lord, I surrender all I am and have to you. Do as you please in my life. Thank you for taking care of this situation. I trust you completely. Whatever comes, I will display your glory and declare your praise.”
Our surrender opens the door for an Ephesians 3:20 performance in our lives, “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” while we rest in confidence, knowing, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).
Dianne Barker is a speaker, radio host, and author of 11 books, including the best-selling Twice Pardoned and award-winning I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! Organizing for the Maximum Life. She’s a member of Christian Authors Network, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Word Weavers International. Visit www.diannebarker.com.
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