Text: Isaiah 40:28-31, Psalm 119:114, Matthew 11:28-30, Luke 10:38-42
The following is an excerpt from Week 5 of Open Your Bible: God’s Word is for You and for Now, a 7-session group Bible study written by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams of She Reads Truth, in partnership with LifeWay.
My mom used to wake us up with pots and pans.
My brother and I would be sleeping soundly in our respective rooms, ignoring our alarms and Mom’s best efforts to lure us out of bed to get dressed for school. Eventually, up the stairs she’d come, banging a wooden spoon on a steel pot or metal pan or whatever was handy in the kitchen, a big grin on her face. She knew to relish moments like those.
Evidently rest was not a challenge for me when I was younger, no matter how loud life got. It came more naturally and more soundly, regularly and effectively pushing aside the activities and cares of life to make space for quiet and being.
Tack on twenty years and rest has taken on unicorn status. It is glorious and beautiful, but rare (almost fictional!). When it finds me, I know it in an instant. Like seeing a stranger walk into a family reunion, moments of true rest are recognizable not because they are familiar but precisely because they aren’t. In our days packed to the brim with running and doing and striving, pockets of rest feel so out of place they can make us—runners and doers and strivers that we are—feel out of sorts. It’s those moments of rest that jar us awake to the good stuff, that allow our hearts to come up for air and stir our curiosity toward God and our questions of faith.
>>>OPEN YOUR BIBLE and read Matthew 11:28-30. Rest doesn’t have to have unicorn status. Jesus promises to give it to us! What instructions does Jesus give for finding rest?
Speaking as the girl who still struggles to wake in the morning (though now from sleeping too little instead of too soundly), I’m uncomfortable with rest because it means loosening my grip. It means slowing my feet and temporarily, or even permanently, forfeiting my plans. Rest begs me to relinquish control—to cease striving and commence trusting. These reasons are precisely why rest is so key to our call to abide in God and His Word.
Mary of Bethany is my favorite example of a rest-er in Scripture. While her sister Martha (bless her!) was scurrying around the house, doing what needed to be done, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet. She ceased readying her home, readying herself, she even ceased serving Jesus for the opportunity to sit with Jesus.
>>>OPEN YOUR BIBLE to Luke 10:38-42 and read the story for yourself. Do you see yourself more in Mary or Martha? Why so?
What does Jesus say to Martha? See verses 41-42.
Those things Martha busied herself with were good, even commendable, but only one thing was truly necessary—to sit at the feet of the Savior. Those other things were important, but listening to Jesus’ words was urgent.
When I need written permission to rest in the presence of the Lord, I go to the Psalms. Those poems are like a permanent hall pass when I’m overwhelmed, a doctor’s note to skip class when all my papers are overdue.
>>> OPEN YOUR BIBLE and read Psalm 119:114:
You are my shelter and my shield; I put my hope in Your word.
The Hebrew words here for “shelter” and “shield” mean exactly that—a covering, a defense. The Psalmist runs to Scripture for cover! It is his best defense! God’s Word calls us to trust Him by setting our striving aside and acknowledging Him as our haven. Psalm 91 follows suit, calling the Lord a refuge and fortress: “He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings” (v. 4).
Be still. Stop. Sit with me awhile, we hear the Father say. And when we do? “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29). When we rest in Him, our rest becomes our strength.
Friends, there is nothing we can do with our efforts that our almighty God cannot do by His Word. Likewise, there is nothing you or I can do to negate the truth of His Word. We cannot make it more true, we cannot make it less true. No, our job is to rest here in its truth.
Tonight my mom came to visit (I haven’t seen her bang any pots or pans lately, but she’s still a champ at relishing). When it came time for her to leave, I watched as the taillights of her car meandered down our gravel driveway. A flicker in the distance caught my eye—countless fireflies dotting the dark treeline along the creek. They looked choreographed yet whimsical, like strings of Christmas lights in July.
I stopped to watch, and I stayed awhile—no running, no doing, no striving. Just resting. It was one of the most beautiful and productive parts of my day.
This is an excerpt from Open Your Bible: God’s Word is for You and for Now, a 7-session group Bible study written by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams of She Reads Truth, in partnership with LifeWay. To purchase Open Your Bible for individual or group study, visit lifeway.com/openyourbible.