Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).
Good Morning God follower. I pray that His grace has been poured out on you abundantly since we last met.
Summer is winding down and all our extra activities that offer relaxation and enjoyment, family and friends, have us all a bit tapped out. Ironically, we are supposed to feel more rested after these choices, yet more often than not, we need a vacation from our vacation. As homemakers, it’s typical that we have had to scramble both before and after to accommodate all our plans and days off.
Our life in New York required us to work 11 and 12 hours a day. Mark and I would then flip an imaginary coin and decide who would do a quick run (aka the slow drag) through the grocery store to grab any necessities. Once at home and set up for the next day, we would wait for a delivery guy from one of the local take out places we were regulars with, and we would sit at tray tables in our living room in front of the television, completely numb. Dinnertime never came before 8 and 9 at night, and so we would eat and “clean up” and go to bed, just to wipe away some exhaustion and do it all over again the next day. Monday through Saturday, this was our routine. Our business was open on Sunday also, but we were unwilling to work 7 days a week.
Needless to say, we coveted our “vacation” time. Although it too came at a cost. To take vacation, we would need to cover all the shifts that we would otherwise work. We would need someone to take responsibility for the money and banking and payroll. We would need delivery people who had the keys to all the locations and understood what an emergency was (the only incidents by which we were to be bothered).
Other considerations included:
Who would be watching the dog and the cat and the llama?
Would we leave enough chemicals and provide ample instructions so that this time the pool wouldn’t be green when we returned home?
What loan would we qualify for to afford all the activities we were going to cram into the 6 days we had diligently planned?
Could I function on 3 hours sleep to drive the 12 hours back home to inevitably call out sick (tired) the day we were due back because there was no way I could manage all the responsibilities? (Notice, I wouldn’t even be there and I would think about coming home.)
When we would finally arrive at our destination, I would be exhausted from the 2 additional hours that became part of our drive (because EVERYONE that owned a car in the southeast would be on the highway that day), but I would have to keep the troops moving to unload the 30% of our home that we brought with us. I would scurry about making beds, planning dinner menus, grocery shopping and dodging rain that I hadn’t accounted for. “It will all be worth it,” I would remind myself.
On one “vacation,” I was so tired that I locked us out of both our condo and our car. We all sat on the curb outside the tastefully designed building waiting for the locksmith to come and give us access to our house so we could get in the car and go have some fun. (Was the locksmith in the vacation budget?).
When the locksmith came, we gained insight into how easy it was to pick the lock (and my husband and I shelled over the $100) and we seriously gave consideration to our future business opportunities-locksmith or thieves-we felt this might have been a sign.
Mostly on our vacations, I was not feeling chosen and dearly loved as the verse in Colossians states. I was not clothed in the lovely flowing robes of compassion, but instead was wearing the tattered stinky rags of self-pity. With all I had packed, kindness, gentleness and patience did not make the cut; I seemed to have left them home. (Ok, truth, I misplaced them a while back).
But this “vacation” place was where I came expecting to hear from God. It was my safe haven from the crazy life, left 6 states back. A life that provided many good things, but that had a knack for swallowing us.
So here I would be like Jonah, spit out of the belly of the whale covered in my gunk, trying to clean myself up and get on with the process of unwinding. Oh, and did I mention that I gave this home of ours a name when we first acquired it? Be Still and Know?
Inevitably, it was in the moments on the beach that God would capture my heart again and remind me of who I was and what blessings He had for me.
Sometimes as I began to unpack, I would look at all my beautiful shoes. I would long for the date night that we would almost certainly fit into our time away, when my husband and I would reconnect like we so desperately needed to. For me vacation time is all about refreshing, reconnecting and resting, so I would long for slower starts to our days. Mornings, enjoying sipping our coffee together and relaxing. Later, with our toes in the water on the beach, we would just catch up with each other talking about all the things that had been happening as life passed us by.
I’ve always loved putting on fresh, pretty outfits after spending a day at the beach and slipping on some of my favorite shoes. I love the way a pretty pair of shoes can make me feel and how those shoes have the ability to transform my feelings about myself, in a moment.
You see in my world, I build my outfits around what shoes I want to wear. The color, style and mood. ( I have always wrestled with shoes being practical instead of pretty. Pretty wins every time!) The shoes make the outfit!
As I recently contemplated all of this, I felt God’s Holy Spirit talk to me. It was a conversation about putting on my Jesus clothes, for Him (emphasis mine). Of dressing up for Him (or maybe letting Him dress me) and planning out our special time together. (This is the same concept Jamie spoke about last week.) About how resting is in the person of Jesus, and not about a location. What He wants is me, and not a bunch of excuses and distractions. He longs for my undivided attention so that He can place trust for Him deep within me. But It is there that I feel my uneasiness return and, I turn my attention back on the voices that are buzzing all around me.
On one of the days on our 2006 beach vacation, we gathered all our beach things and everyone was ready for our first trip to the ocean. As soon as we were there and settling in, my fears and anxiety came flooding in. This was the first time our baby girl Noelle was going to the beach. How was I going to keep my free spirited, delightful toddler from running into the ocean and being consumed by the waves? In fear, I swooped her up and brought her way back on the sand to protect her from the potential danger of the waves.
We dug out a little “ pool” in the sand and gave her a play place under an umbrella. Not a bad deal if you ask me. I was able to keep watch of her just fine, while her siblings, all much older, entertained each other in the refreshing ocean water.
As the day progressed, Noelle longed to be closer to the water’s edge. The Lord was nudging me about how little I seemed to trust Him with this little girl. I couldn’t argue because in my spirit I found myself constantly stressing about what if this happened and what if that happened. I was reminded of the pains of losing a precious child and I knew I just couldn’t feel that kind of pain again. I just couldn’t rationalize relying on something other than myself to keep her safe.
But eventually down we went to the water’s edge, and she laughed and giggled and simply delighted at the splashing and flowing of the water. I dug her this little area right where the tide was coming into, and I placed her there with her shovels and sand toys. And I sat in front of her, with my back to the water.
As the waves came in and went out, the water had to go through me, before it got to her. And she just kept looking up at me and smiling under her little sun bonnet. Her face glistened and I could see in her eyes that she wasn’t even a little afraid. She didn’t for a moment think there was any danger. Noelle’s little, brilliant, developing mind, recognized that as long as I was there, she was perfectly fine.
And that’s when IT happened! God clearly spoke to my spirit and said, “This is life. Just as you sit here and protect her, so I do with you.’ God let me know that He has been behind me, always letting the waves crash on Him first. It’s not that they won’t ever hit me, but they have to go through Him before they get to me. He absorbs the heaviness for me.
So what shoes was I wearing when I realized this? How did this even correlate to Jesus clothes? ( Colossians 3:12). I was at the beach and barefoot. I was suddenly turning my beautiful, yet impractical, high heels over, and I was being fitted with the shoes of the gospel of peace.
I met God on the shores of that beach and just sitting there, in His presence, changed me. It wasn’t about what I got up and did. It was about the stillness of the moment (waves crashing non stop) that I heard His voice in the most tangible way. I was changed right there and my first reaction was that this was holy ground and bare feet were appropriate. My heart was laid out before the Lord as I was challenged to believe that every moment passes through Him before it reaches me. I understood my position in Christ with such clarity and I went from gripping fear to radiant trust, drowning in grief and pain and shame to swimming in oceans of grace.
There really is a peace that passes all understanding. I scarce can relay how profound this moment was and how clear so many pieces of life instantaneously became.
This was perfect rest. It had nothing to do with where I was physically. It was about my heart, it was about recognizing how truly wonderful and faithful our great God is and how much I matter to Him.
Because… Trust = Rest = Freedom
As we sit at Your feet this morning, let us worship You the Creator and not the created things we are holding onto right now. Surround us LORD, with the sweet fragrance of Your presence. Thank you Jesus for the cross and the blood and love that mingled there at Calvary. Thank you for the grace that You pour out on us. Help us to release our grips on the things we hold so tightly and lift open hands towards You.
Holy Spirit, continue to teach us about surrender and trust. We want so desperately to live, resting in You and feeling Your blessing.
We give ourselves to You, LORD, heart, minds and wills, our strengths as well as our weaknesses. Use all that we lay before You for Your glory, LORD.
Join me back here on Monday to see how Vanessa ends our rest series.