Unforced Rhythms of Grace
I often find that when God wants me to pay attention to what he is saying, he will reinforce it several times. It was certainly so a few weeks ago.
I had already decided to write about resting in God, based on my meditations on Psalm 23:2-3 “He makes me to lie down in green pastures…He restores my soul;” (NKJV).
The verses that also came to mind were from Matthew 11:28-30 ‘Then Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light.”’
It was these verses that God kept bringing to my attention through a variety of means. So I’m writing this as much for myself as I am for you, dear friends.
The Message paraphrases it as “The words of Jesus: ‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’”
In the past I lived a life which was too busy, although I didn’t realise it at the time. This way of living was one of my own choosing. I focused on doing things for God, but neglected my relationship with him. It was through experiencing some specific difficulties that God taught me to value and appreciate rest. He showed me that my work for him was to flow from my relationship with him. To this day, I still continue to learn from him “the unforced rhythms of grace”.
I find it’s all too easy to step back in to old habits and my old way of doing things. I think that’s why God has to remind me that there's a better way to live.
There are so many advantages to the rest that Jesus gives us:
· Our relationship with him deepens and grows as we spend time with him. We get to know him better. The more we know him, the more we learn to love him, and the more we know and love him, the more like him we become. This will only happen as we rest in his presence and make him a priority in our life.
· Relaxation and restoration - we can relax in God’s presence, comfortable in being who we are, knowing we are loved and forgiven by God. When we are in the company of others it can sometimes be hard to be ourselves. We can so easily feel we have to be something other than ourselves so that we fit in and are accepted. This can be very tiring. But with God we are free to be ourselves, there’s no need for pretence and we can rest in his compete acceptance of us. As we relax in God’s presence he brings restoration to our body, mind and soul. “He restores my soul” Psalm 23:3 (NKJV).
· Refreshment and renewal – the Holy Spirit reenergises us and transformation happens as we spend quality time with him. God refreshes us as we spend time feeding on his Word. As we read his Word, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to us. Times of rest with God allows him time to show us areas where and we need to change and how this change can happen. It is then that we are renewed from the inside out.
· Rest gives us time to review and reflect on what is happening in our life. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on things such as our attitude, our actions, our words. We can be so busy in life that we have no room for reflection. We move from one activity to the next without stopping to pause and consider what we are doing and why we are doing it. So, when we have a rest time with God we make space for reflection. Reflection helps us to see what we may be doing well, what could be done differently or what needs to be removed from our schedule. Reflection has the best outcome when it’s done with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
· Rest realigns us with God’s will for our lives. We understand more about God’s plan and purpose for us. We receive direction and guidance on how to live day by day. We gain perspective on our situation and what we have to face. We become more in tune with God and recognise his voice more. We start to care more about the things that he cares about. Our focus returns to God and what his will is, rather than focusing on our circumstances and our own needs or desires. Rest enables us to then live our lives from God’s perspective, not from our own limited perspective.
We all need times of rest and when we build these times in to our day we will be blessed and benefit from them. Rest times with God bring us in to a deeper relationship with God. Rest times also offer us much needed relaxation, restoration, refreshment and renewal. Rest times provide us with room to review and reflect and finally, rest times realign us with God’s will for us. And so, rest times help us to “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
To Think About:
Do you make time in your busy life to enjoy the kind of rest Jesus promises us? If not, what changes could you make?
How can you make the most of your rest times?
From the list above, what would you like to experience more of and why?