Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.” (HCSB)
When our son was about two and a half, my husband and I decided to take a family vacation to Florida. We talked it over and came up with the perfect plan — we would begin our journey at our son’s bedtime. Being a small child plus riding in the car plus being sleepy was certain to equal a quiet trip to Florida, and because it would be so quiet in the car, I planned to nap while my husband drove and be fresh to drive while he napped later on. It was a well thought out plan, a wonderful plan, a perfect plan ….. on paper! We failed to account for the excitement of a two and a half year old little boy! From the time we buckled him into his car seat in Roanoke, Virginia until we unbuckled him in Orlando, Florida, he talked. He talked about everything. He talked about nothing. He talked to fill the silence. He talked the entire trip. Those were the days before in car movies, so it was up to mom to come up with games
“Let’s play the Quiet Game”
“Okay, I lose”
“Let’s look at the road signs and find the letters to spell your name”
“I don’t see any signs or letters”
Quite honestly, I think my husband and I were willing to do most anything if he would just be quiet. We were beyond the wanting quiet for all night. We were beyond wanting quiet for hours. We were praying for quiet minutes, maybe even seconds! I was telling that now funny story to my friend over coffee, when it occurred to me that the way my husband and I felt that night must be how God feels when we chatter and prattle on in our prayers. We talk about everything. We talk about nothing. We talk just to fill the silence. We talk our entire prayer time. We try to play the Quiet Game but our actions say “okay, I lose” because being quiet is too difficult. Is there any surprise that God says “be still” (Psalm 46:10)? What about when He says, “just be quiet”? We may even admit that it’s God’s turn to speak, but we want the burning bush, the booming voice, the angel choir. We ask for a sign but quickly declare, “I don’t see any signs or letters” if the sign is not our name with a neon flashing arrow pointing out the path. We are on a journey in this life, and we know that for God’s children, a wonderful, exciting place is waiting. We have so much to say to God as we travel along, but we need to have times of quiet and rest. God, I know that You don’t need for me to be quiet so that You can rest, but I need to be quiet so that I can rest in You. Help me to keep Exodus 14:14 always in mind.
Hebrews 4:9-11 – “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. ” (NIV)
My friends and I are sitting around the table, coffee cups in hand, and the subject of resting comes up. One of my friends still has small children, so her resting time revolves around their schedules and usually comes only after they are in bed at night. One friend says she has no problem resting — sometimes she can rest all day, especially if a good book is involved! There is a part of me that actually envies her. I have a difficult time resting. I have this overwhelming compulsion to always be doing something. I guess it stems from being raised on a farm where there was always work that needed to be done and having a dad who liked for his children to be busy. When I was growing up, you could sit to eat or to shell something from the garden, but sitting to read a book or watch a movie was synonymous with being lazy. That idea has such deep roots in my psyche that some days I even struggle with the time spent sitting with You, Lord. Resting isn’t a bad thing. You even tell us to rest. In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells his disciples to find a quiet place and get some rest. Merriam – Webster defines rest as freedom from activity or labor. In Matthew 11: 28 You invite all who are weary and heavy-laden to come to You for rest. Psalm 4:8 David says “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. “(ESV). Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying “he that can take rest is greater than he who can take cities.” Lord, in the day-to-day busyness and stresses of life, I can get caught up with what I tell myself I need to accomplish in a day. There’s an old hymn that says there is a place of quiet rest, a place to meet our Savior, a place of peace, near to the heart of God. Acts 3:20 says that times of refreshing come from Your presence. There are chores to do, meals to cook, errands to run, but, Lord, help me not to get so caught up in doing all of those things that I don’t take the time to come to You, to find my rest and peace in You.
Matthew 11:28 : Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (NIV)
Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (NIV)
I just made another cup of coffee, but Lord, we both know it isn’t going to help. I am weary from the inside out. Weary mind, weary body, weary in my spirit. It has been a busy week. One day of doctor’s appointments with more tests to come. One day of sitting at the hospital with a family of close friends. Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to see Your hand at work there! One day of playing “catch up” – cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping. In my “spare time” I am cooking large meals so that there will be leftovers for other meals since I have another busy week coming up. My body is so tired that I feel as if I have literally hit a wall – a big, thick, solid, rock wall. My mind is so tired that I think my brain has overloaded and shut down. Just looking at the calendar creates a feeling of taking on a heavy burden. Aren’t there supposed to be some white spaces on a calendar? I write appointments in different colors to be organized, but when the calendar begins to resemble an explosion in a crayon factory, it just causes me to feel that my master plan has become a master disaster. When I get tired and worn out, I tend to forget that I need to focus on You and not on the schedule. I need to allow You to work with me and give me rest. I know You don’t want me to take on more than I should. Your plan for me includes a time to rejuvenate – mind, body, and spirit. You say to come to You and You will give me rest. When I read that verse in Matthew, I think the key word is “come”. In Habakkuk, You say to come beside You. That verse always reminds me of an old TV show I once saw where the father is trying to get the children to come to him, but they just stand where they are and keep saying, “but Dad.” Instead of coming to You and allowing You to give me the rest I need, I try to stay in my spot and be like the hamster on the wheel. I use my colorful markers and calendar stickers to make me feel in control as things continue to spin out of control. I am exhausted and don’t have the energy to handle all that I have going on in my life. Like Martha in Luke chapter 10, I find myself asking, “Don’t You care how hard I’m having to work?” Your answer to her was to show her the importance of resting with You. Martha needed to get her priorities in order – I need to do that same thing! Proverbs 16: 2 (HCSB) says “All a man’s ways seem right to him, (all this planning seems so right to me; look at all the pretty colors on my calendar) but the Lord evaluates the motives. Commit your activities to the Lord, and your plans will be achieved.” Lord, I’m looking at my colorful and overflowing calendar and realizing that my plans are worthless if they are not Your plans. I’m coming to You with my weary mind, weary body, and weary spirit and asking for Your rest.