Creating a Legacy of Rest

Creating a Legacy of Rest

(presented at Legacy, Cornerstone Church of Moorpark, 10-18-2011)

My name is Josie Dovidio.  But that doesn’t really describe who I am.  Aside from being a child of God, I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife and a mother of two boys, ages 8 and 7.  And as if that doesn’t give me enough to take care of, I also work part-time outside the home – doing work that I love, but work that can also be mentally and physically exhausting.

I am a busy lady and at times can be your typical “over” gal….you know, “over” worked”, “over” committed, “over” stressed and “over” whelmed.

What about you? Who are you?

If you don’t work outside the home, please don’t say “I’m just a stay at home mom.”  None of us are JUST anything! For some reason that doesn’t sit well with me.  Maybe because it doesn’t truly depict what mothers do.  I mean if you cook for your family, you are also a chef.  If you tend to your child’s scraped knee, you are a nurse. If you drive your children to various appointments and run errands for the family, you are a courier service. If you photograph your family, whether it’s with an iphone or a fancy camera, you are a historian. If you’ve listened to your child’s, husband’s or friend’s heartache, you are a therapist and a counselor.  If you clip coupons and shop the sales around town, you’re a financial planner. And if you can get a stain out of a favorite shirt…well, you’re a magician!

Whether you work outside the home or not, moms have a lot going on, both physically and mentally.

Certainly, our culture pushes us to accomplish more and more with our days. In fact, much of modern life is specifically designed to seduce our attention away from rest and towards multi-tasking.

Here’s the perfect example, my smart phone, which I love, has call-waiting, texting, e-mail, voicemail, facebook and many other things.  It’s basically begging me to talk to more than one person at a time. And because it is so “smart,” I find myself doing more with it and thereby sometimes complicating instead of simplifying my life.

But let’s say you haven’t ventured into the gadgetry of today– we all have kids, so you know there are endless doctor appointments, playdates, school projects, soccer practices, birthday parties, fundraising and homework…. on top of laundry, housecleaning and never ending errands.

Some of us have special needs children that require an increased level of attention than “typical” children who already depend on us completely.

Some of us are caretakers for ill or elderly family members.  Our time might be consumed by taking care of our personal needs, our family’s needs and the complete needs of another who cannot help themselves.

And still some of us are suffering from our own illnesses, or debilitating diseases, and sitting still appears to magnify our pain and suffering.

Occasionally, it seems that every responsibility, every stimulus in our lives competes for our attention: Buy me.  Try me.  Watch me.  Listen to me.  Take care of me.

In light of all that, you would think that resting would be easy and not necessarily something that needs to be pondered. After all, who couldn’t go for a nap right now?  But my opinion is that in this day and age we really have lost site of the idea of rest and our need for it.

The reality is we could all find some reason to eliminate rest from our lives.  If you are like countless women today, carving out time to be still is not a priority. Not because it doesn’t sound appealing or because we don’t have good intentions; but because while our spirit is willing, our body is weak (Mark 14:38). Many of us have become so distracted by the details of life that we have started to lose the big picture and resting becomes a guilty pleasure. So our tendency is to skip it because we’re too busy.

If you don’t fall into one of those scenarios, don’t be deceived.  Consider the possibility that you might be keeping yourself occupied serving.  This is not necessarily a bad thing but remember that our good activities also need to be prioritized. Let me let you in on a little secret, we don’t have to participate in everything in order to have a full life. We might WANT to, but whatever we are filling our time with is not greater or more satisfying then spending time with our Lord.

The account of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 is a great illustration of this concept. Books have been written on these 4 sentences alone.  But the gist of the story is this: Jesus had 2 friends names Mary and Martha.  While traveling with the apostles he was passing through the village where they lived. Mary and Martha invite their friend Jesus, the SON OF GOD, to their house for a meal.  Martha gets crazy busy preparing a proper feast for a king, while her sister Mary, hangs out in the living room listening to Jesus talk.  Martha starts feeling a little resentful that she’s doing all the work and goes to Jesus and says “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Jesus replies “”Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” The implication here is that Martha was distracted with SERVING her king (which is a good thing).  But the better thing would have been “BEING WITH” her king, sitting at His feet in His presence.

In Revelation chapter 2, Jesus addresses the church at Ephesus and praises them for perservering and enduring hardships in His name. Maybe they had similar struggles we have now. But while they are praised in those areas, He does have a major complaint about them. In fact, he clearly states that He holds it AGAINST them.  What was their shortcoming? They had forgotten their first love.  They had forgotten about Jesus and the love and passion they felt for Him when they first believed.

Let’s not be Ephesians!  Being still is a habit of attention not distraction. Let’s not be so busy doing FOR God that we forget to BE with God?

Whether your life is packed with good, important things or relatively trivial, mindless things keep in mind what BUSY stands for. Being under Satan’s yoke.

 

Examine your daily routine. Priorities may need to be reshuffled.  You have the right and the responsibility to decline activities that do not fit into your life or that make your schedule too full to spend time alone with God.

Don’t let “busy-ness” inflate your self-importance.  Being busy allows us to feel in control and strong, like we are in charge and fulfilled.  Perhaps we avoid spending time with an Almighty God so we don’t have to be reminded of how small and relatively insignificant we are.

The world lost Steve Jobs this month.  If you don’t know who he is, well he WAS the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple.  He was in charge of the company that made products that have changed the world. In the wordly perspective, he was an icon! But he’s gone now. And while some of us can’t live without his products, apparently, life has gone one without him.

Being still reminds us that God is in control, not us and that life will go on with or without us!

 

Resting is important because our bodies and our minds need to slow down. I began to understand this more once I had children.  For example, when my sons were toddlers, they were (still are) highly energetic, rough and tumble boys.  At that age, they still napped everyday from 1 – 3 pm.  However, some days, for any number of reasons the boys would have to skip a nap.

Now Dominic would typically call me on his way home from work to ask how everything was going.  All I would have to do to send him into a panic is to say “Well, they didn’t take a nap today!”  If those words came out of my mouth, he knew exactly what he was in for when he got home. You see no matter how much energy my boys had, they needed to nap everyday. If they didn’t rest, my sweet angels turned crabby, irrational, defiant and emotional.  They were just too tired to deal with anything effectively or lovingly.

And guess what, this isn’t exclusive to children. When we are tired, we inadvertently start creating tension in our families. We are too drained to spend quality time with our husbands. Our children start reacting differently toward us because we don’t have the patience to properly comfort them when they are hurt, afraid or just need our company.  If our spirits are hardy we will  be able to meet the most daunting situation with peace and grace.

If we are depleted, our fuses shorten and we become less tolerant especially in situations that require grace. We start getting snippy with others and that makes it virtually impossible to model Christ’s love.

 

Without rest we make war on our own bodies.  We push them beyond their limits. Our resistance goes down and we start to get sick more frequently and stay sick longer.  Have you ever thought about the word disease?  If you hyphenated it would be dis-ease. That means a body that is not at ease. Disease is really the way that stress expresses itself in the weakest system of your body? If your kidneys are the weakest, your stress could manifest itself as kidney disease.  If your heart is weak, you might suffer from heart disease. If your lungs are weak, asthma. What if your spirit or your faith is weak?  What are you prone to then?

Of course, many diseases come from lifestyle habits and choices.  But your body perceives any mistreatment of it as stress.  That is why no matter what we are suffering from, our doctors always tell us to “get plenty of rest”.  They don’t typically say “keep yourself busy, it will go away.”   God designed our bodies to require rest.  Our physiology creates disease to give us feedback, to let us know we have an unbalanced perspective and we are not loving ourselves. (br)

 

Ok, what if you’re not too busy?  What if you have the time to spend with God, you just don’t do it? What are the reasons behind the avoidance?

 

Resting might force us to deal with emotions we are trying hard to suppress.

Maybe we avoid sitting before God because we are ashamed or don’t want to have to confess that yet again…we are not living right. But in Romans 3:23 we are reminded that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Perhaps the most displeasing to God is our avoidance of Him.

When we deny ourselves access to the His incomparably great power (Ephesians 1:19) and Holy Spirit, how could we possibly live right before God? Galations 5:22 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.”  It’s not our fruit, it is the Spirit’s fruit.  We need to be in a position to receive the Spirit if we want to have fruit. And when we don’t slow down we put ourselves at a serious disadvantage in the world because we are too preoccupied to listen to the holy spirit who seeks to nourish, refresh and guide us.

As Christians, our bodies and minds should be a beacon for all those who seek rest in a restless world.  We need to be good stewards of the physical body that God has given us.  1 Corinthians 6:19 says “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”

 

So, what is rest?  Well, it’s not just relaxation and not just a fun carefree time.  Rest is a deep sense of peace that only abides in us, to the degree that we abide in Christ.

 

In other words, rest is not just putting up our feet at the end of the day with a glass of wine.  It is resting in the fact that grace covers us, mercy and protection are extended to us and our days are numbered and ordered of the Lord. That’s not something we typically remember while planning birthday parties or cleaning toilets, but it becomes vividly clear when we tune out the world long enough to plug into God’s amazing perspective.  

 

Rest is God’s idea and it has been available to us since the dawn of creation. We are all familiar with Genesis 2:2-3 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done”. It’s interesting that God’s rest was not a rest of weariness or inactivity but of completion and satisfaction in His work. (Now granted a woman’s work is never done…but neither is God’s.  He created the world and He took the time to rest and enjoy it before moving on to oversee the affairs of the world).

Now you might remember in Genesis 1:27,31 Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day. This means that while the Sabbath is God’s seventh day, it was Adam and Eve’s first day in existence.  And they spent their first day in the presence of God.  When I think about this, I wonder if God was so satisfied with His work that He just wanted to rest and enjoy it with Adam and Eve.  To be in communion with them and to delight in their enjoyment of what He had just made.  Then I wonder about Adam and Eve; they were the first humans in God’s world, and while I’m sure they were in awe and taking it all in…they must also have been waiting for direction from God. “Okay God, you’ve created us for this amazing place, now what would you have us do?” Their first day was spent resting with the Lord and waiting for Him to reveal His will for them.

Remember, God had created man to have dominion over all of creation. (Genesis 1:28) But man himself was supposed to be totally God-dependent. After all, Adam made no contribution to creation but was only its recipient. The Sabbath rest was set aside for man. God blessed it and made it holy (Exodus 20:11) to serve as a constant reminder that man needed to seek God first.

The importance of rest is again discussed in Leviticus 16:31 which says that “It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance”.  In other words, it was a required law.

But rest is a matter of wisdom, not law.

The rest that God provides should also be viewed as a privilege. Our purpose on this earth is to glorify God.  That means our job is to show others who God is through our interactions with them.  God commanding rest is a privilege in that He allows us a time to become refreshed so we can continue in the divine ministries he would have for us.  It is a time for us to huddle with Him and ask what part we can play in God’s team on earth.

So on the 7th day, God rested from His work and decided it was such a good idea that He commanded a rest for man. Remember the 10 commandments? It’s commandment #4! It’s not just a lifestyle suggestion. That commandment of course, is about the Sabbath. And the literal definition of the word Sabbath is – a day of rest.

I find it interesting that the commandment to rest is considered by God to be as important as the commandments prohibiting stealing, lying and killing?  Who knows, but I wonder if it’s even more important to him!  After all, He discusses resting before He discusses those others. What’s great about that commandment is that the Sabbath gives us the permission we need to stop…and to restore our minds and our bodies.

Let’s talk about observing the Sabbath for a moment.  As I have said, this is a rest God wants us to enjoy.  But sadly, for many of us, this day is as hectic and noisy as the rest of the week. If your day of worship seems like every other day, except for church services, make a commitment to turn off the noise, unplug some of the activities, and spend more time in contemplation of God’s goodness.

Sisters – be on alert! Our children are growing up in the end times.  As mothers, we are typically their primary care giver and teacher. The Bible says we need to raise them in the way they should go (Prov 22:6).

Even though we may often feel ignored, don’t be fooled.  Our kids are always watching.  They see how we deal with fear, frustration, disappointment as well as joy.  Do they see a faith that carries us through stress, exhaustion, unemployment or cancer? Or do they see a belief system that crumbles under the slightest spiritual assault?

We should strive to leave a legacy that showcases how seeking God first brings joy, wisdom and peace in life’s trials.  They should know for sure that anything that this world can offer (chocolate, wine, exercise) pales in comparison.

They need to see that even when mom is overwhelmed by life she finds comfort and hope in a God who is greater than all people and problems.  They need to see a mom who strives to live purposefully and even sacrificially, to seek first the kingdom of God (Mt 6:33).We spend time teaching our kids about lying and stealing. Don’t forget to teach them about commandment #4.

And remember, if you ever feel guilty for taking a break to be with God that is Satan at work.  Nothing makes Satan happier than seeing us feel uneasy about following God’s commandments.

I know that many of you are thinking…when?  When am I going to find time to rest?  How can I fit this into my schedule?  Believe me, I know.  Finding rest is a challenge!  But it’s well worth the effort.

I love when Gordy gives us a simple way to remember things, so I’m going to copy his method and provide you with the 3 D’s for Finding Rest.

The first D is Delete.

In 2008, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was running for Vice President and she was asked  how she would find the time to be Vice President given that she was a mother of 5 and that one of her sons, 5 months old at the time, had Downs syndrome.  Regardless, of how you feel about her as a person or politician, she did say something intriguing. She stated that her life is busy and full but she doesn’t allow herself to participate in things that are un-necessary, like watching tv.

Ask God to show you your time wasters.  Ask Him to show you what is not really “necessary” in your life.  If a video camera followed you around for the last seven days, what would it reveal about your life?  Where would you see the time wasters? What can you delete?

But as you think it through, the focus should not be “how can I squeeze God into my schedule?”

Deut 32:3-5 say that “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just”

Matthew 7:24,25 says “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

What makes the most sense to do, is to put God in FIRST and then the other things of life, planned and unplanned, seem to fit in much better.

Don’t find room for God, make room for the other things of life around God.

The next D is Delegate.  Some of us want to be superwoman.  To quote an old 80’s commercial …we want to bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan…and never let our hubbies forget they’re a man. 

 

Remember, you don’t have to do everything to be valued as a woman.  Our value comes from knowing you are a child of God so it is ok to ask others for help or to accept help when others offer.

 

Galatians 6:2 says Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  My sons have been folding washcloths and putting away their freshly laundered underwear since they were two years old.  Any day now, I expect them to figure out that I’m delegating chores. At that point, I plan to skillfully analyze that scripture with them.

The last D is Discipline.

2 Tim 1:7 says “… God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  God designed us to have self-discipline.  When you pray, ask for the strength to tap into it.

Some of us have incredible discipline when it comes to other areas of our lives.  We never miss a bunco game or our favorite tv show.  Many of us go to the gym regularly to keep physically fit and that’s great.   As I said earlier, we do need to be good stewards of our physical body.

But we also need to practice the discipline of resting in the presence of the Lord.  The Message translation of 1 Tim 4:7-8 says “Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this.”

In addition to taking care of your physical body by resting, take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.  Bodily fitness definitely has value but in the grand scheme of things, that value is limited when you consider that our body is only valuable while we are here on the earth.  But spiritual fitness has unlimited value, because it holds promise both for the present life and for the life to come.

If you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by this message, first cast out that thought because it is NOT from God.   Then remember that the word “discipline” in itself is an indication of a weakness, not a strength.  Think about it… as a rule of thumb: if it is easy for us to engage in a certain discipline, we probably don’t need to practice it.  The disciplines we need to practice are precisely the ones we are not good at, so hang in there!  And remember that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Take baby steps. Start simply by finding moments of pause throughout the day where you can plug into and recharge with God.

Resting and meditating on God’s word is crucial because it shapes our worldview. The way we view life determines our daily response to our circumstances. Meditation on God’s word is critical for the child of God. It is so critical that God commends meditation in Psalm 1:1-3. “Blessed is the man…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.  Whatever he does prospers.”   God promises blessings, success and perseverance to all who meditate on His Word day and night.

When we enter into God’s rest and depend totally on Christ’s perfect redemption for our salvation, we cease trying to add our own works towards that salvation. And therefore, we should expect a change in our perspectives about what is necessary in our lives and what is just a distraction from living a life that honors God.  And all of a sudden, we will start to notice that we have more time available to us.

Resting in the Lord is the outward sign of our inward experience of becoming totally dependent on God’s salvation in Christ and resting from our own futile efforts to save ourselves through attempts to earn salvation through works of the law.

Put more simply, resting in the Lord is how we outwardly express that we have accepted what Jesus did for us on the cross.  He saves us, not our works.  (Ephesians 2:8-9) Once we understand this, resting becomes a delight and a joy.

Closing statement:

When it comes to REST, all God asks is that we come to Him…that we spend a while thinking about Him, meditating on Him, talking to Him, listening in silence, occupying ourselves with Him – totally and thoroughly lost in the hiding place of His presence. In place of our exhaustion and spiritual fatigue, God will give us rest.

Amen

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