The Discipline of Rest

It has been a difficult three weeks. As I recovered from my allergic reactions in January, I became ill with the stomach flu. As I recovered from the stomach flu, I came down with a certain strand of the real flu which was neither Type A or B. As I recovered from the flu, I came down with a cold, which is progressively getting worse. That brings me to today. After three weeks of this, I can say with conviction that I'm sick of being sick. However, even when this latest, and hopefully last, illness of the season departs, I have only a period of isolation to look forward to, a difficult reality for someone who enjoys routine, plans and people and who often falls prey to the temptation to base her value and worth upon the number of checks on her to-do list. When I became ill with the flu, I did the unthinkable for me. I called off all music lessons for the rest of the month, decided to take a break from going to church and teaching Sunday school and made plans to stay home until our family vacation to Branson in two weeks, which I may or may not be well enough to actually take. Needless to say, I'm totally bummed.

A lot of people have been praying for me, which I have greatly needed and appreciated. One of those people is Mrs. Dixie, a special person I have mentioned before. Mrs. Dixie has been my mother's spiritual mentor for years, and recently became my own. God has used her in my life to challenge, convict, and console me. And she has the most uncanny knack for somehow synchronizing her telephone calls with my lowest spiritual moments. Including last night, she has done this three times in a row, and many more times than that overall. That's not coincidence. That's God connecting two people to the same wire.

Yesterday was my first day to keep Micah all by myself after all of my illness. I did some necessary laundry, and cooked dinner, and by the time I sat down to eat, I was past the point of exhaustion. There were still dishes to do and a boy to bathe and to put to bed, and I simply could not do it all. The realization was maddening, especially in light of the fact that I felt that the only ministry God had left in my hands was to serve my family. I had to ask Brandon, who has also recently been ill and had worked a long day at the pharmacy, to either help with the dishes or with Micah. He chose to take care of Micah (and who wouldn't?). He left to bathe our son, which left me alone in the kitchen with my demon-driven thoughts and self-accusations. The pattern, which circled in my mind over and over again, went something like this:

"You have been entrusted with one last ministry--just one!--and you can't even do that right. Your family needs you, and you can't even do the simplest of tasks. If you can't minister to your family, God will never trust you with your other ministries ever again."

I knew that voice well enough, and I knew it wasn't the voice of the Holy Spirit, but I couldn't find the strength to rebuke it. I was in tears when the phone rang. "Dixie," my cell phone read. I answered it without hesitation. A part of me may have been halfway expecting it. We talked for awhile, but to sum up the most important part of the conversation, I will paraphrase what she said to me about my ministry.

"Sometimes God relieves us of our ministries for a season. Accept His decision, and choose only to rest in Him."

A simple, perfect concept.

Today, I relinquished all of my ministries--teaching music, teaching Sunday school, spending time with my Christian sisters, my family, even my ministry of intercession--and my ridiculous to-do list into His ultra-capable hands. I asked only that He would fill me with His Spirit, help me to rest in His person, and help me to walk in the Spirit, thereby working in me to will and to do only the good works which He has prepared beforehand for me to do according to His good pleasure for this specific season.

The following passages are from today's meditation. They have been paraphrased and adapted from multiple translations. I hope they bless you as much as they have blessed me.

"The Lord is my Shepherd.
In Him, I will be satisfied.
He makes me lie down and rest.
He leads me to a peaceful place.
He restores my weary soul.
He leads me in the way of righteousness
for the sake of His glorious name."
~Psalm 23:1-3

"Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
I say to the Lord, 'You are my Lord!'
Apart from you, I have no good thing.
The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!
I take pleasure in them.

(Here, I'd like to shout out to Mrs. Dixie, Nona and my mom,
for they are truly "godly people.")

Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
or even speak the names of other gods.
Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine
(including my life, my health).
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the Lord who guides me;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.
Therefore, my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
MY FLESH ALSO WILL REST IN HOPE.For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Psalm 16