Today marks three years since the loss of my job. My Facebook status that day included words to the song, “Promise of a Lifetime”, by Kutless. “I have fallen to my knees as I sing a lullaby of pain. I’m feeling broken in my melody as I sing to help the tears go away.” Many times since that day I have left my bed to fall on my knees in the other room, mixing worship and tears. I was devastated and still grieve even three years later. I remember choking out a question, “What am I supposed to do?” As I’ve said before, God’s answer was, “Rest and let Me heal you.” I was not a fan of that answer but it has certainly grown on me as I’ve slowly come to understand God’s purpose.
As we near the end of 2018, I’m in a reflecting mood. The word God gave me for this year was ‘restore.’ I didn’t notice until now that the word ‘restore’ doesn’t even exist without ‘rest’. It’s amazing to me that God gave me both of these words. I know now that we can’t have one without the other. We can’t heal from any wound without rest and we can’t be restored without resting in God. I was exhausted in every way – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually – because I had been trying to do everything myself with no help from the Lord. Three years ago I thought I just needed to be restored physically but now I know that I more desperately needed to be restored in every other way. In order for that to happen, I needed to rest.
We rest to allow God to carry our burdens. “Then I remember the pledge You made to me. I know You’re always there to hear my every prayer inside. I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime. I hear the words You say to never walk away from me and leave behind the promise of a lifetime”(Kutless). We can rest because God promises that He will never leave us. We are safe with Him; safer than we are when we try to protect ourselves. We never have to carry our burdens alone. God invites us to this deep soul rest in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Doesn’t a light and easy burden sound wonderful? I was very happy in my job and my personal life but the damage from previously trying to hold myself together had already been done. I had put so much burden on myself to be everything to everyone, to fix myself and everyone else. I needed to learn how to let God carry the unnecessary, self-inflicted load.
We rest so that we can be refreshed. “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed” (Exodus 23:12). Even my status three years ago alludes to my striving, “After 4 years, 9 months and 8 days of living, breathing, and loving my job, I said goodbye today. There are no words to describe the heartbreak. Prayers appreciated as I struggle to find purpose in my life again.” Not only did I have my purpose entirely wrong, but I put my whole self into it. I never stopped. Jesus told His disciples to rest when they had been doing too much without taking care of their own needs. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest'” (Mark 6:31). Jesus cares about our needs and asks us to rest with Him. We need to pay more attention to His nudges so that He can refresh us and we can stay healthy in every way.
We rest so that we can be repaired. Honestly, learning to rest doesn’t always feel gentle. One of the definitions of restore is “repair or renovate.” “Will You help me fall apart? Pick me up. Take me in Your arms” (Kutless). I didn’t think about it three years ago when I used the song lyrics to ask God for help but, in order to be repaired, it’s necessary to fall apart first. I felt deep in my soul even then that I needed to fall apart but I didn’t know how. I needed God to help me. Up until then I had been doing everything I could to hold every broken piece of myself together. I didn’t know how to let myself crumble and the thought terrified me. I have since learned the beauty of brokenness. We don’t get to experience healing restoration if we don’t allow ourselves to break first. It hurts SO MUCH, but the treasure of falling apart is that we fall into God’s arms. How can we experience such comfort if we don’t allow ourselves to fall?
We rest so that we can be blessed and made holy. “Find my way back from the storm and You show me how to grow through the change” (Kutless). “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:3). If we don’t stop to let God work in us, we don’t give Him the opportunity to make us holy. If we’re striving in our own work without God’s help, that work is not holy. Holy work is done by God in us. All we have to do is give up our control and let Him. I don’t want to miss such an opportunity for God’s blessing.
In order to gain all of these benefits of rest, we have to stop what we are doing and we have to let go of our own understanding. “I am holding on to the hope I have inside. With You I will stay through every day, putting my understanding aside and I am comforted” (Kutless). When God rested, He ceased doing. I needed to stop doing the destructive things I was doing (self-protecting, trying to control, trying to prove I was worthy of restoration, basically trying to be God). I needed to let go of my need to know and my striving to figure it all out and I needed to soften my heart to God’s purpose and restoration.
After much wrestling and finally resting, I can now see these last three jobless years as God’s way of blessing me. He has changed my view of His purpose for me. He has helped me let go and allow Him to carry my load (obviously, I’m not completely cured in this area but I’m thankful to be God’s work in progress). He is refreshing me and healing me. And He’s not just repairing me. He’s doing a complete renovation of my heart. Now I truly believe that’s what God meant when He told me He would restore me this year. He is renovating me- making me holy and preparing me for His purpose. I am so very thankful that I’ve FINALLY surrendered and am allowing Him to do so.
“Looking back at me I know that You can see my heart is open to the promise of a lifetime” (Kutless). After I finally invited Him, God opened the door of my heart this year and poured Himself in. His abundant love and grace are pushing out everything that doesn’t match His will for me. I am so grateful for the changes I see in myself and I look forward to what He is preparing me for… the year of HOPE.
May you let God pour His heart into yours this new year.
Song I’m feeling: Promise of a Lifetime, by Kutless