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Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] ~Matthew 11:28
Unworthy, unacceptable, unlovable, unwanted, these are a few of the labels that I have carried most of my life. These are also the lies of the enemy that still sound clearly in my ears and threaten the happiness of today. Being honest far too often I give away my peace. It seems that God keeps taking me back to the basics again and again. Lately, my focus has been on what Christ has already done in making me a new creation and staying in a place of rest.
I’ve been reminded by the Lord that I still don’t like myself much. In fact, I am still ashamed of who I am. This was hard to hear. I thought I had dealt with all this before and I’ve made great strides. The reality hit me hard as I admitted He was right. Even as I seek to follow Him I struggle with feelings of shame. Which is why last week I wrote about learning to love the gift that is you. I’ve not felt like I could tell others I wasn’t working because I’m ashamed. Often I feel it makes me appear lazy or incapable.
I get so fixated on trying to fix my flaws and I stress myself out. I get caught up in pleasing people and trying to meet perceived expectations and I forget. And I want to say at times we all forget.
When we forget it is God’s job to finish we try to take on a responsibility that is not ours. We begin to strive to be something, to do something, and we stress ourselves out. The truth is God began a good work in you and that means He is responsible for finishing the work. Which means we get to rest and enjoy the journey.
Strive means to exert oneself, make strenuous efforts, to contend in opposition or battle, to struggle. I would strive and struggle against myself. Then I would get mad when lasting progress didn’t happen.
Now though God is showing me that I don’t have to strive. I just have to rest in the fact that God will finish what He started. Accepting these truths brings a peace. a relief that enables me to just step back and enjoy each day and the gifts that day brings.
It lays aside this mentality of trying to earn it or need to meet certain things. Instead, I can enjoy myself knowing that God delights in me.
That doesn’t mean that I stop doing anything. Actually, it frees me to do more. The thing is rest is far from passive. Looking at the definition of rest we see it means resting from labor or ease. The definition I like best is relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs, a mental or spiritual calm, tranquility. We will find a tranquility when we realize we don’t have to do it. This frees us to see God’s hand at work in all our circumstances.
From this place of rest, I find that I enjoy being in my own skin more. I naturally want to spend more time worshipping the Lord for everything He has done and is doing and let Him share His heart with me.
Many times in my past all I ever wanted was to be seen as “normal”. Normal for me meant holding down a steady job a really long time and having security. As I battled my depression I swore to myself I would see this “normal”. I would never again be stuck at home with no job and no income. My current season has me unemployed and I know I’m doing it out of obedience to God, still, I’ve struggled. My views of normal are constantly being changed. Yet I’ve only shared with a handful of people because I’m ashamed.
I have always hated my weaknesses and my quirks. My being so sensitive and emotional bothered me. My way of being uncomfortable around others bothered me.
I have recently been reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I am learning to rest in God’s unconditional love. He is teaching me lately I can also learn to rest on the love of my sisters in Christ. I’m seeing we no longer have to strive to be good, acceptable, worthy because we already are. He gave us this when He died for us. I am so quick to forget it has all been already done and I don’t need to do anything other than rest in what He has already done. All we have to do is receive it with a grateful heart and be who He has already created us to be.
When I am striving it stops the easy flow of hearing and responding to the Father. As I was striving to change it was as if I were saying, Father, what Jesus did was not enough. That was never my intentions. I’m so thankful for the correction the Father brings. It may hurt momentarily as we realize where we missed it. But at least, in the end, the course correction saves a lot of hurt and heartache.
This world needs exactly what you and I have to offer. We must learn to live from this place of rest. We must step into the role God calls for each of us to fill. Or we are robbing the world of the precious God shaped gift that we are. We will reflect the light of Christ when we realize He doesn’t need our help to shine through us.
Ask the Father to reveal where you have been striving to see things happen in your life? Where are you getting off on your own strength?
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