I often forget that the most eternal, fruitful, and life-giving times in my life have been when I slow down and spend time with Jesus.
I’m not just talking about a 3 minute devotional and a quick, “Thank you God for this day. Amen.” (Although let’s be real, there are days when it’s all you have time for). I am talking about a fresh outpouring, a recalibration of the heart, and a fixation on what is unseen. I’m talking about deep and poignant transformation.
This doesn’t have to happen every day, because if we are honest with ourselves, we probably won’t make the time. But what if once a week we put aside an hour or two with the sole purpose of spending it with Jesus; a little retreat or vacation with Him, if you will. By slowing down and resting, it is much easier to hear God’s whisper and to let His truth sink in.
The fact that I’m even writing this shows Gods transformative work in me. I was the girl who needed (and I mean needed) to fill every second of the day. Whether that is work, socializing, track practice, adventuring, you name it! It was hard for me to say no. Stopping and resting meant facing myself and my God. In April, God incessantly put it on my heart to rest. Struggling with being sick, I knew I needed rest, but with the end of the school year, being an athlete, and having a part-time job, how was I supposed to?
The day after my last class, however, I got into a rock climbing accident and with that, a pretty nasty concussion. Suddenly, the extroverted girl who avoided rest like the plague, was laying in bed, in the dark, incapacitated, not even able to watch movies or go see friends. In other words, I was forced to rest, and I was not happy about it.
I’m not implying God necessarily wanted me to get a concussion. But I do know that in His sovereign, loving, and redemptive way, He was going to use that concussion and turn it into a beautiful and painful growing experience (and maybe even a blog post, who knows?).
Laying in the dark recesses of my bedroom, my overdue vacation with Jesus began. I was hoping that it could be while laying on the beaches of Maui or while hiking the Swiss Alps, not the case. I laid there for weeks and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
Ironically enough, I am forever grateful for those weeks of feeling useless and helpless. For one of the first times, I wasn’t able to rely on my own strength and with this came the rewiring of my identity.
My identity had increasingly been entangled in the act of doing, in the act of going places, seeing people, and “making a difference.” But when my heart is rooted in doing, what kind of person am I? What kind of person am I becoming? What kind of difference am I actually making?
Laying there in the dark, I was able to hear Gods whisper and His words of encouragement and love over me. I would expect condemnation or disappointment for messing up and getting in a silly accident, but I was met with His unabashed grace, especially grace for myself.
The state I was in felt detached from the gregarious, active Abby that I was used to being. As if I was less me in that pitiful state, as if my soul had less value. Jesus taught me that He loved weak, tired, “concussed Abby” just as much as “outgoing, climbing up a mountain just for kicks Abby.” He delights in us, even in our most broken state! You know why? Because He does not care about what the world cares about.
He doesn’t care if we are a social butterfly, as fast as Usain Bolt, a super model, or an Einstein in the classroom. He cares about our heart, our soul. That is what He died for is it not? If our hearts and identity aren’t rooted in Him, if we aren’t placing our hope in Him, then those other seemingly good qualities pale in comparison.
It is in the place of rest, the place of full dependence on Him and His strength, that we lose ourselves and find ourselves in Jesus. The more we invite Jesus into our lives, the more He sustains us, and the more we need Him. When we abide in Him, we have the capacity to make a much greater impact than if we were relying on our own strength.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not suggesting hitting your head on a rock and getting a concussion like I did. I am, however, suggesting that you ask the Lord to help you slow down, to counteract this fast-paced culture, and to spend more time with Him; time for rest and rejuvenation. Time away from technology, away from the voices and opinions of others, away from distraction. A time of solitude with the being that created you and knows you more intimately than anyone ever possibly could.
It is in that place of coming before Him, humble and broken, that He meets us and creates in us a new heart. A new heart that helps us better love God, ourselves, and those around us.
“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
words and photo by Abigail White