“The biblical meaning of the word "restoration" is to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition. The main point is that someone or something is improved beyond measure.”(source)
As women who are in ministry, in faithful service for God’s Kingdom, being restored and renewed can seem frivolous, even wasteful. Aren’t we supposed to be strong, fully equipped by God for every good work? It is so easy to keep going, to crowd every waking moment with service, with giving and pouring out! Without stopping to realign ourselves, to renew our minds with truth, with grace-filled words from God Himself, to remember who God says we are, our hearts will quickly bow to other gods, sometimes gods of sacrifice and ministry.
I’m tired. I am a busy mother of three with a husband in bi-vocational ministry. I am attempting to run a business as well as manage several accounts for a social media marketing company. I have a house to clean, meals to put on the table, laundry to finish, neighbors to evangelize, a church that requires my gifts and talents, and a relationship with God who should have priority over all of these.
In Matthew 11, Jesus says this to those following Him, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Unforced. That is anything like most of my days. I begin early with an alarm, forcing me out of bed and into the harried rush of getting 5 people out the door at 7:30AM. When it’s 5 minutes until we need to be in the car for school drop off, there’s a lot of forcing going on!
Ministry can become very “forced” as well. When we can feel ourselves getting weary and tired, without reprieve in the sea of so many needs, yet there is no one to shoulder the burden for us to have a break, we have to force ourselves to move on. When our own family life becomes chaotic with rebellious children or job loss or aging parents, yet we are unable to hand off responsibilities and demands in ministry… there is a lot of “forcing” that happens to keep us moving and checking off the list of to-do’s.
So, what in the world do we do as women in ministry? We can’t possibly set it all aside, right? There isn’t room for us to take a break for 6 months and be renewed without any responsibilities!
I submit to you that we MUST find a way to renew, we MUST find a way to build rest and reprieve into our daily, weekly, even monthly rhythms. We MUST find others with whom we can be open in our struggles and weaknesses. We were never meant to do life alone, to be the ONLY source of talent and gifting within our local context.
When God set aside His people Israel to be lights to the nations around them, He was setting up a picture of His Bride, the Church. He drew them to be set apart, to be unique in their “rhythms of grace”. One of the biggest ways they did that was to REST. And it wasn’t just taking a day off of work, it was setting aside times where they did things differently in order to take time to REMEMBER, to be RENEWED in their purpose and direction.
Later in Israelite history when the kingdoms were divided and the people were sent into exile, God sent His prophets to remind the people of their true King. In Isaiah 28, an interesting verse pops out as one of the reasons why God allowed His people to be sent into captivity.
“God has told his people, ‘Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.’ But they would not listen.”
When Jeremiah explains this concept in his prophecies, God makes it clear what that rest was, "For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes." (Jer. 31:25) He Himself is the rest! We find rest in relationship!
Ladies, if we are in ministry to serve and minister to others who are hurting, who are looking for peace and hope in a world that demands every ounce of strength, we MUST rest. How does that connect? If women who are weary and burdened are watching those of us who know Jesus and don’t see a life of quietness and peace, but instead a life of harried chaos and busyness, they see no hope. They only see another dead end. We simply cannot claim to have the light of hope and be burnt out and weary. There must be another way.
That way is in putting on the brakes and falling before the Lord of Rest and asking for His grace to build unforced rhythms of grace into our lives. He has made it clear that in HIM ALONE can we find rest. No amount of vacations or hobbies or Netflix or cups of coffee can replace the Sovereign One who loves us and has redeemed us from the slavery to busyness and stress in this life.
So, today we are going to stop. We are going to spend the next 5 minutes, half-hour, or entire afternoon with the One who has been wooing us, calling to us, asking us to step out of the fray, to cuddle up next to Him on the couch and share a cup of tea while we chat. He wants US, not our frenzied service, not our ridiculously responsible checklists, not our well-planned events. US. Will you join me in praying over this time?