Tag Archives: Christianity

Rest

Rest is such a tricky concept.  Yes, I know, in general it should be extremely simple: when you’re tired, you rest.

It never seems to work out quite so clearly in practice.

What about the elderly man who is retired and theoretically can rest as much as he wants?  He still wakes up at 4:30 every morning, conditioned by years of getting up for work.

How about the four-month-old baby who literally could spend as much time as she wants to in sleep, but fusses and cries and fights rest for as long as possible?  The more exhausted she becomes, the more agitated and unlikely to sleep.

Think of the insomniac, who for whatever reason just cannot fall asleep no matter what he does.

When we’re sick or recovering from surgery, what we need more than anything is rest.  We need to step away from our everyday routines and responsibilities and focus on ourselves.  For so many of us, it’s a nearly impossible task.  To stop doing and simply be. 

In terms of spirituality, God says come rest in Him.  Yet we strive and struggle, trying our hardest to earn favor with Him.  We have to recognize that Jesus died for us and we cannot earn our salvation or God’s blessings.

“Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“…he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'” (Mark 6:31b)

May God grant you peace and rest today, as many mark the beginning of the “holiday season”.  I pray that you may know the true joy of resting in the Lord.

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Packing light

Allison Vesterfelt’s book Packing Light put into words many of my struggles over having too much. It’s a great read for many reasons. It prompts a great deal of introspection. How does one learn to live with less?  How do you know when you’ve accumulated too much? This applies not only to possessions, but also to relationships and experiences.

Stuff

I know I have accumulated too much stuff.  Much of it has a permanent residence in our basement, packed away in boxes.  Dishes and appliances and gadgets we don’t have room for in the main part of the house (if we haven’t used it in three and a half years, do we really need it?)  I hate the idea of being weighed down by all these things.  Will I use them someday, will I not?  Who cares?  They’re stressing me out and so not worth it.

I really hate the idea of my child being weighed down and obsessed with possessions as he grows up.  I recently read a mom’s blog posting about taking away all of her children’s toys, and I wanted to shout, way to go, sister!  I hope I would have the guts to do that for the right reasons.  She says her daughters soon adapted and earned back one or two toys, and they actually prefer having less stuff to worry about.  They use their imaginations more as they play.  They don’t have to spend forever cleaning up the clutter because there isn’t much.  I feel like I could be the same way if I’d give up a lot of the junk in my home and life–freer, more creative, more contented.

On the road

Packing Light chronicles the author’s fifty-state road trip.  That alone was enough to hook me into reading it. Road trips are amazing!  While the book doesn’t sum up every single state and its highlights, it gives the reader a taste of the trip, letting the imagination fill in the blanks.  Reading it made me consider where I want to go–I’d absolutely love to see parts of the country I’ve never yet explored. Boston and Philadelphia, for fascinating history.  Colorado, for whitewater rafting and hiking and mountain biking and all that beauty.  Sequoia National Park because holy cow, those trees are unbelievable!  Ahh, I can hardly wait for my next chance at a good road trip!

Risk

This book stirs up in me a desire to live boldly, to not settle for less than what God has in store for me.  Vesterfelt quit her teaching job and left all of that security behind to travel for six months.  Maybe for me, living out a bold faith doesn’t have to mean quitting my day job and driving cross-country.  Then again, maybe it will someday!  Who knows? For now, it means taking risks where I am–forming and strengthening relationships no matter how temporary they may be, trying new lessons in my classroom knowing some will fail, starting a blog and letting friends and strangers into this inner world that might be surprising.

It’s about listening to that quiet voice inside saying, You don’t need all this. Letting go of anything that hinders my walk with Christ, anything that replaces Him in my life.

One final thing I love about this book: the author encourages readers to share the book.  The final page even has space to write your name before passing it on to someone else. It’s totally in keeping with the nature of the book–sharing things and experiences rather than being controlled or held back by them.

Love one another

For years, the issue of gay marriage has been almost a constant debate in our nation’s courts.  Christian lawmakers fight for the sanctity of marriage as being only between one man and one woman.

Perhaps they’re right.  Perhaps that’s God’s divine will for our nation.

Perhaps they’re wrong.  Perhaps God intends to allow gay marriage across the entire country.  I don’t claim to know much about the law, but here’s what I see:

  • Much of the world sees Christians as bigoted, narrow-minded hypocrites.  Fighting so hard to prevent gay couples from marrying and from receiving the basic benefits that any married couple in the U.S. receives makes Christians look incredibly selfish.  The world sees how ridiculous it is to claim that somehow your heterosexual marriage will have less value if homosexual couples are allowed the same right.  To me, my marriage is a sacred covenant between my husband, me, and God.  Other forms of recognized marriages do nothing to diminish that.
  • Regardless of what the Bible says about homosexuality, the Bible is not the main source of wisdom for the U.S. government.  I’m sorry, but I don’t believe we can necessarily be dubbed a “Christian nation” anymore.  The nation has many roots in Christianity, it’s true, but more importantly, in religious freedom.  If we’re not a Christian nation, then how can we create our laws solely on the basis of Christian mandates?
  • Rarely does throwing Bible verses in a person’s face result in him or her repenting of sin and beginning a new life in Christ.  Most of the nonbelievers I know are put off by forceful, in-your-face evangelism.  They’ll dig in their heels even further if confronted with sin.  They’ll become defensive rather than open to hearing God’s Word.  They might, however, respond to love.
  • We are all sinners.  Jesus said “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7).  Why are Christians so quick to throw stones about this issue, while often ignoring sin issues in our own lives (greed, dishonesty, adultery, drunkenness, anger, etc.)?
  • Our country has so many other pressing issues to contend with, gay marriage seems like it shouldn’t be at the forefront of Christian politicians’ minds.  What about health care, joblessness, abandoned children, education?  How much energy and government funding could be much more effectively expended on any of these rather than something like this?
  • Christians are commanded to love.  I can’t even pick one verse to back this up because there are so many.  No, this doesn’t have to mean that we condone sin.  It means that we are to love others no matter how we may disagree with their choices.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  But perhaps if Christians would focus less on preventing gay marriage/hurling guilt at homosexuals and more on loving one another in tangible ways, honest and respectful dialogue could actually occur.

I realize that in some ways, I may be oversimplifying things.  I realize that for every new legislation, there are likely to be uncontrollable and unforeseen consequences.  I realize that I am probably stepping on quite a few toes, maybe even on both sides of the issue.

Nevertheless, I feel that this needs to be said.  I am tired of being associated with the Christians who are viewed as haters of the gay community.  Christ is so much bigger than this one issue!

Final thoughts: shouldn’t the ultimate goal for us as followers of Christ be that more and more people become followers of Christ?  And how is fighting against gay marriage going to accomplish this?