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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 06/05/17

The Juxtaposition of Strength and Rest

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STORY: Missing Strength—Missing Rest

I’m learning a lot about strength and rest these days. Seems these two words are opposites, but in truth, they are simply on opposite sides of the same coin. Either you have the coin or you don’t!

Last year I became the strongest I’d been in two decades. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. My gym workouts were impressive, considering my disability, if I do say so myself! At the same time, I dealt with some of the biggest life challenges. Then at the end of the year I had a simple surgery that turned into a permanent nerve injury. I’ve been off my workout plan for five months. I thought I was preventing deconditioning by walking.

Then this week hit. The week I decided to go back to working out, and learning to live with my additional disability. I did my first weightlifting workout. No problem, right? Wrong! I woke up the next day, and every muscle reminded me of the 145 days that had elapsed since my last weightlifting date. Wah-wah. The next day, I did a video exercise routine. Wowzer.

Let’s just say I respect strength and rest in a whole new way! What about you—do you have the right balance?

What causes the worst kinds of weakness and fatigue? When we try to handle the demands of life in our own strength and forget to lean in to Jesus. This results in more frustration, failure and fatigue. It’s only as we depend on Jesus, and enter into His rest that we can have a sense of refreshment and strength to face whatever the day brings.

I embrace the beautiful juxtaposition of knowing my greatest strength comes from resting in Jesus.

Consider how pastor J.D. Greear puts it. “Let’s face it: sometimes going ‘all the way’ with Jesus is a challenge, and we find ourselves lagging behind where we feel like we should be. In times like these, it might make sense to tell ourselves to work a little harder, to devote ourselves more fully to God. But the gospel diagnoses things differently. Ironically, the gospel tells us that when following Jesus gets difficult, the answer is not to ‘work harder’ but to ‘rest better.’ Only by learning to rest in Jesus will we have the strength we need to thrive.”

STUDY: Find Your Rest

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will get our help from Egypt. They will give us swift horses for riding into battle.’ But the only swiftness you are going to see is the swiftness of your enemies chasing you! One of them will chase a thousand of you. Five of them will make all of you flee. You will be left like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop.” So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help. (Isaiah 30:15-18 NLT)

  • What does it mean for God to be sovereign? Lord? Holy One? How do these roles affect our ability to gain strength when we rest in Him?
  • Isaiah was speaking to Israel, but we can gain wisdom from the same concepts. God saves those who do what?
  • What are the two prerequisites to strength?
  • How does it feel for you to wait on someone who’s running late? This Scripture says the Lord waits on us. He certainly doesn’t have to. He is God. He can do what He wants! But His love for us motivates Him to wait for us. What is He waiting on? Why does He wait, according to this verse?
  • How will you be blessed?

But the one who redeems them is strong. His name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. He will defend them and give them rest again in Israel. But for the people of Babylon there will be no rest! (Jeremiah 50:34 NLT)

  • God wants to redeem Israel and Judah. Jeremiah reminds them their Redeemer is strong. Perhaps we need that same reminder. What is God’s name in this passage?
  • What will God do?
  • Unrest was common in Israel. But feeling settled is so essential. Look at the phrase, “give them rest again.” Receiving rest from God isn’t a one-time thing. They needed to trust God and seek rest and redemption over and over. Is it time for you to seek it again?

I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you—Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always. (Psalm 121 MSG)

  • The paraphrase of Psalm 121 reminds us God never sleeps and He is our strength. We can sleep—we can rest, because our God doesn’t! Ask yourself to truthfully reveal where you find your strength. How is that working for you?
  • Remind yourself, from the verse above, of some of God’s powerful acts. What are they?
  • How does God’s strength in these actions give your soul, spirit, and even your body, rest?

STEPS: Find Your Strength!

  1. Rest your soul. Trust in God. Relinquish control.
  2. Rest your spirit. Connect with God. Relinquish being too busy to pray.
  3. Rest your body. Meditate on God’s Word before bedtime and then relinquish your worries and wonderings so you can sleep.

Copyright © 2017 Kathy Carlton Willis. Used by permission.

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