'Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.' Matthew 11:27-29 NLT
In these uncertain times, what do we do when our busy lives suddenly stop with no real warning or time to prepare? If we allow ourselves to let God’s promise register, it can be life changing.
Recently I’ve been reading ‘Finding your hidden treasure: The way of silent prayer’ by Benignus O’Rouke. I’ve changed my patterns slightly to make sure that, in my busy day, I’m able to sit and be quiet. This has been so difficult! Making the time was easy, the difficulty has been in sitting quietly and finding my rest in the Lord. I’ve discovered that my mind and my body do not naturally rest, rather my mind flits from one thing to another. I have to constantly reign it in and bring it back to the silence. Benignus O’Rouke’s book supports this process of discovery by describing this quietness as ‘not a natural state of mind or body’. Each day I have been determined to strengthen my will, not get discouraged and do what feels unnatural to me. I have increasingly felt that, instead of searching and striving to find God, I should strive and search for silence, letting God find me.
The invitation and promise given in Matthew 11 is something I’ve previously skipped over, never really allowing myself the opportunity to discover true peace, using the busyness of life as a poor excuse and sidestepping the invitation to come and rest in his presence. As the days have passed I realised how bad I feel, for so many things - thoughts creeping in, not doing anything, wanting to get on, not hearing God, not finding God, not being spiritual, not praying, not being at peace, and that’s just about my quiet time! The list is endless. So, I’ve set myself a tough challenge for someone with the Phlegmatic temperament - to choose to not feel bad. Some days when sitting in silence I feel only my frustration and need to remind myself to accept that this is a journey of discovery, not a race to the finish line. Some days I feel nothing, but the knowledge that God is there. Some days I feel everything, the full awareness of God in my soul, but mostly his love. Each day I know I am closer to God.
This current situation gives us an amazing opportunity to slow down. We have been forced to stop and re-evaluate what is important, as familiar patterns have been removed, leaving a huge gap. I want to embrace my new world and find out what God has in it for me. I’ve constantly wished for more time since returning to work, and now I have it. It would be a great shame if I was not able to see God in it all and find his peace in my circumstances. I’m under no illusions, this will not be easy, I am human with the natural fears and worries that times like this raise but, if I don’t use this opportunity to really discover his peace, I will not be able to cope and life at home with 3 children to educate and entertain will be a nightmare instead of something amazing. I want to be able to look back and say that, when our world was turned upside down, we embraced it and saw God in all. If we can be still, God will find us in the silence. As we learnt from John’s talk ‘Challenging times’ we need now more than ever to find rest for our souls and that place of peace that is described in Matt Redman’s song ‘Songs in the night’.
'But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.' Isaiah 40:31