(I’ve selected a soundtrack for reading this post, so click over to the blog and then play the songs embedded at the end of the post. )
Week 3 of Finding the Rest of My Faith was a tricky one for me. At my suggestion, we ended up talking through the Biblical books of Ruth and Jonah. However, as we dove in to these texts around the table, I found myself thinking, “These don’t have ANYTHING to do with rest. Why did I pick these? How can I spin these to seem relevant?”
Ruth, it seemed, just blindly followed the advise of Naomi, who repeatedly uses of the word “rest” to refer to her eventually getting married. Throughout the story, almost all Ruth’s verbs are passive, as in “I’ll follow, I’ll obey, I’ll do what you ask.” Then she goes and lays at a man’s feet to get him to claim and marry her. It’s annoyingly unfeminist. Nevermind the bit about that obedience landing her a spot in the line of Christ. I started not liking her.
Jonah, the prat, is arguably the worst missionary ever. Running away from God, getting swallowed, begrudgingly preaching repentance to the Ninevites, and then sulking when God shows them the same radical mercy that included Jonah in a bout of fish vomit. After the whole preaching business, Jonah’s “rest” under a shady vine gets dried up by God, who wants to show him the ugliness of his unmerciful heart.
I’m sure the three new ladies who attended the group may have questioned whether this was really a group about rest at all.
However, as the days have passed since the meeting, as I’ve revisited the other Scriptures that we’ve study, as I’ve mulled over WHY I wanted to talk about Ruth and Jonah in a rest study, I’ve thought a lot about OBEDIENCE.
There does seem to be a connection between obedience and rest. There does seem to be a connection between willing obedience and rest.
One of the verses that we keep coming back to is John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
And I keep thinking about abiding, and bearing fruit, and obeying, and resting. Of course the gardening metaphor is the one that comes to mind because that is the one Jesus uses so often.
And in that metaphor, we are the plant, over and over and over again. We just get planted and soak and bask and rest and grow. Our job requires A LOT of just BEING STILL.
Another passage that keeps irking me is Isaiah 28: 12 God’s people could have rest in their own land if they would only obey him, but they will not listen.
And it is true. I DO not listen when I think obeying means doing something that doesn’t make sense to me.
I tend to
ignore question any instruction that sounds like these.
DON’T DEFEND YOURSELF.
REST IN INACTION.
Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.
And maybe the reason God wanted me to see sweet, passive Ruth and cantankerous, grumpy Jonah is because he knows that in my own story, I’m the runaway missionary. I’m the one who, still covered in fish spit-up, begrudges the second-chance given to those I deem less worthy.
Maybe my disobedient unforgiving heart keeps me from feeling rested? Maybe?
Okay, (wiping tears and snotty nose) I’m a bit of an old-school girl, who is always thinking in hymns. I went to a college where we sang hymns and even though I DO LIKE choruses, I’m starting to miss the old, beauty of hymns, gorgeous poems. The first song, Trust and Obey, beautifully states what I’ve been hearing from the Lord about abiding, obeying, and finding REST. Then after I found this version by Chelsea Moon, I proceeded to listen to all her hymns, including What A Friend We Have in Jesus. Of course, the lines that danced out at me from this second song were:
“Oh what peace we often forfeit. Oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to the Lord in prayer. . . .
Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge; take it to the Lord in prayer.”
SO, if you are keeping track, here are the much simplified ways to FIND REST.
1. GIVE THANKS
3. DO NOT WORRY
This Thursday we will meet for Week 4. It is NOT too late to join if you want to. We are going to watch a video called Be Still, which features teaching by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Richard Foster, and Max Lucado. The video is 93 minutes long and I’d love to have some discussion time afterwards, so I am going to start it promptly at 7:15. BE EARLY so you can get a coffee and get settled.