Life doesn’t ever give us a break, really. There is always some trial, pain, unfulfilled desire, or sin we have to deal with. But have you ever experienced a time or two where God seems to grant an unusual measure of blessing and rest? The normal trials of life are there, but you are just extremely satisfied and joyful in knowing Him, enjoying the life He’s given without some major hurt dogging your steps. What a mercy those times are!
It was the summer after my junior year of college. The past two years had been absolutely crazy, filled with the busyness of school and work, a semester abroad in Turkey, and some very heartbreaking trials for my family. I was emotionally and spiritually weary. When I was presented with the opportunity to spend that summer in Colorado with the Navigators for their Summer Training Program, I went for it. Unlike other similar things I had done in the past, I had no expectations for significant spiritual growth. I was just tired and looking for something fun to do for the summer. But by the end of those three months, I was changed. No, I did not vastly increase my spiritual head knowledge, defeat some long-festering sin, or experience some dramatic leap forward in my walk with God.
Sweet, simple rest from everything that had been consuming my life over the past couple years. And it wasn’t a lazy, self-focused, do-whatever-I-want kind of rest. It was a meaningful, working, restorative rest. I was surrounded by wonderful, like-minded believing friends in God’s gorgeous creation. We worked hard (full-time jobs, Bible study, team building) but played hard (hiking, rafting, sightseeing), and I had ample time to just read the Bible and process everything that had happened over the past two years. It was no utopia and the trials of life continued to roll on – a good friend to many of us there died unexpectedly and tragically that summer. But on the whole, God used that time in my life to refocus, refresh, and drink deeply of the joys of being “most satisfied in Him,” as John Piper says.
Fast forward to today.
Just as it was in that summer, I feel like I am currently in a similar place of peace and rest. This time I’m not far away in gorgeous Colorado with friends, but the crazy and frazzled months of first-time motherhood are behind me (for now, at least!), we are settled in and enjoying our new life after another cross-country move, and God has been growing my affections for Him and His truth in some significant ways. Again, life isn’t perfect. God continues to show me the many ways in which I sin and fall short, there are circumstances that I want to come together sooner rather than later, and being mom to a one-year-old isn’t exactly “restful,” but in general I am, by God’s grace, more satisfied and contented in both my life circumstances and in Christ than ever before.
I know I have done absolutely nothing to deserve this respite, and it’s easy to even feel guilty for having such smooth sailing when so many friends and family are walking through some very hard things right now. But I think in easy times such as these, I must simply be grateful and marvel at a wonderful God who blesses His children with the good and undeserved gift of rest.
Someday, the next storm designed for my sanctification and for God’s glory will come. It may be a drizzle or it may be a hurricane. It may not be this month or even this year, but it will come. This doesn’t mean I should live in fearful anxiety for what’s ahead – although as you’ll see in my next blog post, I absolutely do that from time to time! I must simply entrust my life and all its circumstances, the good times and the bad, to a loving Father whose timing is perfect.
So today I am grateful for rest, and I eagerly look forward to the day when all of God’s people will find lasting peace and rest in restored creation, worshiping our King into eternity!