Rely on Yourself, or Rest in Him
Once there was a big burly lumberjack who came from a long line of lumberjacks. His parents named him Jack. Jack was a stud and was hired to cut down a record-breaking 30 trees a day. For the first few days, all 30 trees fell easily under his axe, and Jack’s confidence and legend grew. But on the fifth day, he cut down only 25 trees, and on the tenth day, only 15. By Day 20, even though he was swinging his axe faster and harder than on Day 1, only five trees fell. Jack was so confused and frustrated, not to mention very tired, since he was working harder than ever.
The supervisor was worried about his best worker and went out to figure out why Jack’s performance had trailed off so dramatically. Jack was furiously hacking away, huffing and puffing, and on the verge of exhaustion. The supervisor was ecstatic to see that Jack’s axe was completely dull. The boss was finally able to get Jack’s attention to tell Jack that he needed to sharpen his axe. To the boss’s amazement, Jack fearfully blurted, “I can’t. I don’t have time. I need to cut down 30 trees today and I am too far behind.”
Wow, how shortsighted and blind Jack was. He certainly wasn’t lazy. But things were not going well and he was in a downward spiral towards exhaustion, sadness, anxiety, fear, incompetence, self-doubt and frustration. He was ready to quit. Does this describe you some days? So many of us are exhausted and worn out, in need of true relaxation and refreshment. I don’t mean sleep; I mean real psychological and spiritual rest. We keep swinging harder and faster, but our blades, our tools, our minds are getting duller by the minute. By dull tools, I mean our life, our mind and our decision-making skills (really our psychological and emotion management skills). They just aren’t as refined as they need them to be so we can live the amazing life God has for us.
We’ve been so indoctrinated into thinking that rest means idleness or laziness. Our insecurity and past mistakes push our need to swing frequently and furiously, to show that we are worthy, or to make up for our past. Jesus, who had the most to do, rested often. Resting in God has two huge benefits. First, it allows us to sharpen our axes as we clear our lenses and hone our skills by refocusing on Him. Second, when we relax in His presence, we demonstrate trust in Him to accomplish what we can’t. We always need to find that tricky balance between resting in Him and with being a good steward of the things we can control.
Trust is such a rich word, filled with meaning and direction for our life. So many of us do the exact opposite of what God wants. We turn away from Him when we are exhausted because we associate God with duty and diligence. We wrongly believe that going to Him means we have to do more, instead of allowing Him to give us what we truly need.
Today, set aside 15 minutes to take a time to rest. Purposely lean on God and place your trust in Him. Meditate on His power and His love for you. Relax in His presence. When you lean on Him for support, He delights in you. As you rest, listen to what He is telling you, either directly or through your circumstances. He will talk to you, so listen. Whether you swing a dull axe and work harder or you take it to Him for sharpening and get more done blended with rest, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father, I come to You depleted and worn out, needing refreshment. I know that resting in You will save me. I thank You, Father, for the reassuring Word that You spoke through Your prophet Isaiah, telling me that coming to You in quietness and trust shall be my strength. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may lean on Your understanding, not mine. Help me to know when to rest and when to be a good steward made for good works. Sometimes I get confused and mistakenly think my good works make up for my many sins. Help me to appreciate your grace and allow it to rest and empower me. I pray this with trust and expectation, in the name of One who rested in You perfectly, Jesus. And all God’s children say AMEN!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15
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