Reprinted from Charisma Magazine, 1987
“For you to rest–that is, to live in total acceptance of God’s way–demands quiet.
I don’t mean a “quiet time,” a period for Bible study and prayer preceded by and followed by the old frantic rat race. Doing that gives your brain mixed signals; it breeds confusion; it gives you a gray life.
Resting demands quiet all the time. However active your external life may be, God wants you to develop between your two ears, in the discipline of your heart, a lifelong attitude of rest in Him.
To rest in God permanently means to hand over each activity, each situation of your life, to Him and to learn the habit of trusting Him to work for you. We don’t naturally rest. naturally we are stewers, tinkerers and fussers.
I know I’m rubbing the cat’s fur the wrong way! Chrsitians have copies te world’s hunger to go faster and do more, to achieve and to be applauded. The only different may be that when a worlding says, “I’m beat,” she’ll head for a massage or a psychiatrist, but the Christian may try to keep going, keep smiling, and keep saying, “Praise the Lord!”
To guard your inner life, you must guard your outer life. How’s your pace? Are you too busy? Is your lifestyle allowing you only enough time to race through this magazine [originally a magazine article], or does it also give you time to react to it?
Does your pace allow you to keep in touch with yourself–with your inner needs and feelings and longings? Does it allow you time to think, plan, make changes? Does it allow you time to observe carefully the dear ones around you and care for their needs–phsyical and emotional? Do you have to really live?
If not, do you have the courage to change? When you see the terrible place and stress around you, could you dare to say no to it? Could you great down to a different tempo? In the midst of all the craziness around you, could you live poised and serene?
You probably won’t change just because you become aware of the terrible damage an overbusy life is doing to you, to your family and to your relationship with God. Habit alone will keep the nervous St. Vitus’ Dance going, driving you froward pell-mell like a smoker who knows that every cigarette cuts 14 minutes off his life but keeps reaching for another.
You will change when your inner life changes. But I just said your inner life is affected by your outer life! Then is the whole thing a vicious circle that can’t be stopped?
No, the change begins with a decision. Your heart is your headquarters. Even as you read this column, make the decision, b a conscious act of your will, that you will learn to rest in God both in your inner life and your outer life. Once the decision is made–and you implement it as God opens your eyes to implement it–gradually, gradually, over the weeks or years, the changes will come. Your heart will start listening to a different pulse deep within you, and with joy you’ll begin to match your steps to that lovely, restful beat.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” says 1 Thessalonians 4:11. What a radical reversal of today’s typical goals!
What’s keeping you from “loosing up”? What’s destructive in your life–what’s driving you? Put your finger on it; it’s not from God.
He says to you, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1; NIV). Don’t allow it! Don’t stand for it! “May the Lord of peace Himself,” writes Paul, “give you peace at all times and in every way” (2 Thess. 3:16).
What is it that’s driving you?
Is it perfectionism? That’s pure ego. You’ll self-destruct! Confess yoru perfectionism to God and ask Him for deliverance.
Is it a desire for excellence “for the sake of your witness”? Whose excellence, yours or God’s?
Is it pure social pressure? Maybe you need to say no to some activities that “everybody”–even Christians–are involved in. They’re sapping more energy from you–or more money–than you can afford to lose.
Is it love of money? This is so serious it’s frightening. Jesus says you cannot serve both God and money (Matt 6:24); you must choose one or the other.
Maybe you really do need to quit your job and rest in God to supply. Would you have to scale down your stndard of living? Maybe so, maybe not. God knows the economic level best for you, and He’s committed to supply that as you’re obedient to Him.
Slowing down may mean a new style of living for your children. You lift from them burden of “too much”–all the ballet lessons, swimming lessons, cub scout meetings, piano lessons, charm lessons, 4-H (all good, but too much). And you shelter them to make their own play, take naps, or just sit and drem.
You may need to lock up the television except for a few pre-chosen programs. Rediscover the “family devotions” of an earlier genertion: regular bible reading and prayer as a gathered family. Play table games together, or jacks or hopscotch.
Or just sit! Be near. Be available when the questions and decisions come. Be rested; don’t let any seemingly good thing keep you from being rested.
If you do learn to slow down, before long you’ll know yourself better. You’ll know the ones you live with better. And you’ll have become a little island of poise in a mixed-up world. Your family, according to whatever measure of control and influence you still have, may become less candidate for divorce, drugs, tragedy.
And you will by your very lifestyle that you stand for life and for God, that He is the active One, becoming in you that which well-pleasing in His sight.”