Posts tagged Identity
An Invitation to Rest
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Ah! REST...what a glorious word! I inhale and exhale deeply at just the sound of it. And oh, how we humans need deep, glorious rest... Moms especially need it...as do dads. Single folks need it; workers need it; retirees do, too. Even kids need it (although they would protest most loudly...especially in the midst of the frenetic-ness of no-sleep sleepovers!)

I remember as a mom of an infant how I longed for rest, praying my crying-in-the-middle-of-the-night baby would just fall quietly back to dreamland. Or my napping toddler would stay napping so I could lie prostrate for just a few more moments (Please, God!) And now, even as a senior retired adult, that beautiful rest calls my name more often than not in the midst of my afternoons. So I often take to my overstuffed couch and doze as I watch the old westerns from my childhood.

I can’t help but think our craving for physical rest is really just a picture of the rest we need even more so for our souls and spirits. That’s why Christ’s invitation is so attractive. We see it here:

 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

 

Here in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus promises rest as a gift. This is not just the "take a nap" kind of rest, it goes much deeper. It’s anapausis (“rest” in Greek.) It’s “inner tranquility” even while “engaged in necessary labor.”

In our passage, we see Jesus teaching and preaching to a crowd of people in Galilee. Who were these people? Of course, the crowd would include His disciples, who were His learners. The religious leaders dogged His every step, so of course, they surely were part of this crowd. But in the previous verses, there is a hint at who Jesus’ real audience is. Listen to how He prayed just before His invitation:

 

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… Matthew 11:25-28 ESV

 

Jesus’ primary offer was to the common folk, like you and me - “ragamuffins,” as one author calls us. Not the “perfect people” who have it all together. No, it’s for those of us who know we don’t have it together. Maybe we keep on trying, we “weary ones” who work our religious “to do list” to exhaustion or the “heavy laden,” burdened by the failure of falling back into habits of sinful shame. The invitation is for all of us who know we need something we cannot produce. So we see and hear Jesus, with His beautiful “yes face,” call to us:

Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest …

Literally, it reads, “Here to Me, and I will rest you.”

Our Lord is pointing, as it were, to Himself as the Person who is the place of rest, in contrast to the Pharisees who were following Him and harassing the people with their “religious mega-list.”

we see and hear Jesus, with His beautiful “yes face,” call to us: Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest …

That little Greek word translated “to/toward” in this verse is like an arrow aimed in a certain direction. So here we have Jesus saying “I am your focus, not those Pharisees over there and their ‘religious to do list;’ not your own self-effort to be righteous and good, but ME! I am your Rest.” And this is the inner rest of spirit that Jesus gives as a totally free gift when we come to Him. “I will rest you!”

What is this rest of spirit Jesus gives as a gift? It’s the rest of union with Him (Colossians 3:3.) This is rest indeed! And it is fixed, permanent, unchanging. It includes total forgiveness of all our sins, past, present, and future (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17;) birth into God’s family as a beloved child of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2;) identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:4-14; Galatians 2:20.) It means Christ is living in me by His Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:17,19.) I have all of Him in all of me (Colossians 2:9-10.) And this is true the moment I respond to Christ’s invitation: “Here, to ME!” He rests me.

So there is no more working, no earning, no trying to be right in God’s eyes; no grasping for His love, no agonizing over getting more of Him and His Spirit. I have it all because I have HIM. It’s all about receiving HIM who is my promised Sabbath Rest.

So may I ask you, dear sister in Christ, are you resting in Him who is your Rest? Or are you still working, trying to achieve what you already have and who you already are in Him? If so, search out some of the Scriptures above and rest in Him who rests in you.

Next time we will explore the crucial question: How can I experience this rest relationship with Christ in my real daily life? How can I live from these truths?


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 Jan Loyd is a child of God, a disciple of Christ, a Jersey girl, a former nun, a teacher, and now a wife of 47 years, mother of two, grandmother of 5 boys and finally a baby girl...these are just some of the hats she wears or has worn. Her hat as teacher has seemed to be one she’s worn her entire adult life, ranging from elementary school, homeschool, adult ESOL and GED language and writing. But along with all of these opportunities has been her favorite above all the rest: teaching women the Word of God in various ways, Precept Upon Precept and Bible Studies she’s developed by the grace and tutelage of God along the way. Currently you may find her on her devotional blog “A Branch in the Vine” where she share several times a week and in her Bible Study/ devotional book The With-ness of our God: Relationship in Every Dimension.

 

What the Heart Reflects {DWITW 365}
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”As in water face reflects face,
so the heart of man reflects the man.”
- Proverbs 27:19

There’s something particularly breathtaking for me about a good metaphor. Whether it invites me to ruminate on how irises grow or the structural strength of triangles, those bits of imagery remind me to look for depth and beauty in the midst of the mundane and notice how little things can showcase to us a glimpse of God. There is so much that goes on around me that I miss, that I simply overlook. Why? Because I’ve believed the lie that simplicity lacks insight, and I’ve forgotten that small can still be significant. I’ve found what I need most sometimes is to just stop, linger a bit, and take a good look at the world around me.  A few words penned by Solomon in Proverbs 27:19 extended just such an invitation to me this week: “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”

Every morning, at some point in time, I enter our bathroom. And there is no hiding from my reflection in the large mirror that is poised above the sink. Whether I deem the mirror unforgiving or unuseful, this has no opinion of what it holds. It simply shows me what is there. Today as I brushed my teeth, that little proverb from the Word converged with a sliver of Sylvia Plath’s poem The Mirror: “Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, searching my reaches for what she really is.” I looked up from the sink and at the frothy-mouthed figure that stood looking back at me. What am I, indeed?

It’s a familiar yet haunting question. And it’s not one that can be answered with words or appearances, but with a heart, with a life. I am afraid of my heart, afraid of what it hides and what it loves. It can be unruly and wild - both terribly and wonderfully impassioned. And yet, what does it reflect? What am I? Who am I, really?

If I am what my heart reflects, how do I see it? How can I rightly see what I am?

I think of what the Lord said to Samuel when he was sent to anoint David as the next king: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

I am faced with the reality that I cannot even rightly see myself without the Lord. It is His unimpaired clarity and unfathomable wisdom that I must ultimately rely on to even begin to look at my heart as it truly is, marred by errant desire and selfishness, inclined toward lesser loves, yet redeemed. Wholly redeemed.

I am faced with the reality that I cannot even rightly see myself without the Lord.

It’s somewhere in the mashup of what I was and what I will be that I find what I am. I was unholy, unrighteous, unfaithful, ungodly. But through Christ, these things have been overcome and put to death. He has completed His work - which now gives me freedom. I am being refined from the things that oppose God. The purity of His character is being etched in me and that which is unlike Him removed - this process continues until all that remains is a reflection of the perfect manifestation of His heart, Jesus. But until Jesus is all my heart reflects, my prayer must be as that of David in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Confronted by the words of God through the prophet Nathan, David could no longer hide from his reflection. He hated what he saw and turned to God for forgiveness and redemption. For that was the only place he could find it.

So what am I? I have been broken, but I am made whole. I have been consumed by sin, but I am made holy. I was dead, but I have been made alive. I am a reflection of Christ at work, of a history of redemption, of insurmountable grace, of unsurpassable love. Due to Jesus’ sanctifying presence in my life, I am a re-creation in process.

And you, sister, all this can be true for you too! Because of Jesus, only ever because of Jesus. It is through Him that perpetual renewal is found and in Him that we can overcome our initial, innate reflection of a fallen world. We do not have to conform to what we see around us, but we can image something greater, something brighter. In this darkening world, our hearts can reflect hope.

God, as we carry on throughout the week, through late night shifts, meals alone, diaper changes and carpool lanes, help us to be unafraid and ask You to show us our hearts. We ask You to reveal to us the light and darkness that struggle within. We ask You to come in and renovate the places where we need to better reflect You in the core of who we are. May we turn to You first when we question our identities, when we wonder what we are. May we remember we are Yours, for Your glory forever and ever, we are Yours. Amen.

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Robin Zastrow wants to live in a world where coffee never gets cold and kindness abounds. When she's not discovering the wonders of construction paper and cardboard tubes with her two little ones, you can find her sneaking in another few pages of a book or jotting down bits of writing on scraps of paper.

One of her favorite Scriptures is:
“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22 ESV