Last week I made mention of a scene in Exodus where Moses talked to God face to face like a man talks with his friend. I’m so grateful that this very personal, human moment is included in the Bible. It gives us a hopeful picture of the kind of close relationship we can have with God. I’ve been reading forward a few verses this week: Moses says some honest things to God; mostly that he’s finding himself leading people around in the wilderness and is in need of help. God’s response to him is filled with two things I just love:
“My presence will go with you.”
“I will give you rest.”
I have to tell you, as a single woman who wrestles with fatigue, there’s really only two things I need to know most days:
· I am not alone in life.
· There’s a strong possibility of a nap in the near future.
I’ve also been thinking lately that perhaps His presence going with me is a truth that sometimes I appreciate more than the gift of His rest.
I’ve been training three days a week since early March for a5K. I diligently stretch before and after each workout to prevent injury and soreness. I’ve been taking the program twice as slow as prescribed. I’ve steadily progressed forward each day; my body quietly whispering its “thank you” afterwards because my heart enjoys beating fast and my mind appreciates being cleared out.
It’s also been a bit of a negotiated struggle. I am face to face with my physical limitations as I move around the track and I must acknowledge and accommodate for them without letting them overtake me. It’s a delicate dance: 1 step forward: “I can do this,” two steps back: “My tight left hamstring is making this so hard.” Even in the midst of this tricky tango I press on because amidst my stubborn determination and encouraging crowd of friends I also know God that is with me, bringing me His sustenance and breath. He goes with me every step of the way.
Then one morning, I woke up and found my right ankle was in pain. I couldn’t recover just going about my daily life at its normal pace, so eventually I called my doctor.
Her prescription: Rest.
And so, for nearly the past two weeks; I haven’t been jogging. I’ve been coming home and sitting on my couch, ankle elevated, ice wrapped around, ibuprofen in my tummy…waiting as my body heals.
The first day this happened, I was in tears. Why did I even try to do this!? Why do I ever try to do anything!? This was already a challenging goal and now this happened!! I felt defeated and sad and contained.
Rest has an amazing ability to give us perspective. As I sat on the couch this weekend I began to think about how spiritual life often mirrors this injury. We can run hard and fast after good things, carefully doing everything “right” and suddenly find ourselves surprised by pain. It is in these moments that we must learn to stop and rest and wait and listen until it's time to go again; perhaps our pain is a signal to seek some help and make a few changes. This kind of stopping interrupts your life and makes you change the order of things as you reflect and listen and gain perspective. It's a discipline that doesn't come without cost, but may we be willing to pay the price! And, what a better course we will continue on because of it!
When is the last time you stopped and pondered God’s overwhelming outpouring of love for you? Have you sat still long enough lately to hear Him whisper? Beth Moore said in a message that “Many of you have not experienced the tenderness of God because you have not let Him tend to you. Tending takes time.”
So, this week if you find yourself in pain from all of your running, sit down, put your feet up. Remember that the God who goes with you is also the One who gives you rest.