I feel rested. It’s a strange feeling - one which has not been as familiar as it might have been over the last few years. But it’s a good feeling. Coming out of the summer break, ready to jump with both feet into the year ahead, I’m encouraged and I’m refreshed… because I’ve rested.
We encourage our whole Barney’s community to carve out some space during January for rest, relaxation and restoration. As I’ve pushed in to this over the summer, I’ve gathered together a few thoughts which have helped and shaped my resting…
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. (Is 40:21-22)
The start of a new year is a great time, full of expectation, possibilities, opportunities, resolutions…. It offers an opportunity to reflect, to be thankful that we have life, that we have breath in our lungs and health in our bodies, and that the earth continues to orbit the sun.
New beginnings remind us of the first beginning, of God creating the world. We remember God creating man and woman, breathing them into being, enjoying being with them, being in relationship with them. We remember the time, the space, after God created human beings, when God rested, together with his people. And we recognise the wisdom in starting our years, and our weeks, and our days in a place of rest and stillness together with our creating God.
God is God and I am not
“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. (Is 40: 25-26)
As I have stopped, and rested, and remembered the God of new beginnings, I have been struck again by the size of God - the majesty, the awe, the sheer scale of creation that happened at God’s command.
I have had time and space out of the city, under the night sky, marvelling at creation, staring up at the stars and planets above us.
And I have remembered that God is vast. He is creator. He is redeemer. He is almighty. He is sovereign. He is just. He is righteous.
God is God, and he holds the whole world in the palm of his hands. I do not.
God is God. He flung the stars in to space. I did not. He calls them forth by name. I do not.
God is God. He holds my world, my thoughts, my concerns, my life in his hands. I do not.
I can rest and be at peace when I remember that God is God - and I am not.
Trust in the Lord
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Pr 3:5-6)
When I forget that God is God, I become anxious, and stressed, and busy. I live as though I have the weight of the world on my shoulders.
When I stop and rest, I wake up. I remember hope. I remember waiting on the Lord. I remember trusting in the Lord with all my heart, and leaning not on my own understanding.
I remember trust being like a boat by a jetty. If I stay standing on the jetty, I’m safe… but I don’t go anywhere.
If I stand with one foot still on the jetty and one foot in the boat I don’t go anywhere either… except into the water with a loud splash…
Trusting in God looks like having two feet in the boat. Being 100% in. Trusting God with all my heart, not just some of it. Trusting God to lead me through life, to carry me, to guide me, to be with me. It’s not safe… but I’m moving, I’m travelling, I’m heading out on an adventure - with God.
Wait on the Lord
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will talk and not be faint. (Is 40:31)
Isaiah uses one word which calls us to hope, to wait, to trust in the Lord.
I’ve discovered a few more translations…
Rest. Abide. Slow down.
Sleep. Read. Pray.
Catch your breath.
The discipline of waiting on the Lord at the start of a new year, and a new week, and a new day puts us in the best possible place for God to then lead us, and walk with us, and work through us.
God promises to renew us, to exchange our weariness for strength, to refill and refuel us for the journey ahead. And our job in all of this - to rest, wait, trust, and hope in the Lord.
I feel rested. It’s a strange feeling. But one I hope to become much better acquainted with in the weeks and months to come.