I love the quiet yet forceful beauty of a tree in Winter.
Light twinkling from outstretched barren branches reaching towards the grey expanse.
The peaceful stillness of nature blanketed in the newness of white.
As I ponder these beautiful, silent creatures bravely facing all the harshness of a cold winter’s day…
I wonder, do we all need a time to rest?
The process by which trees prepare for winter is quite fascinating. If you are a geek like me, you can read more about it here. “Based on a combination of slowly lowering temperatures and shortening photoperiod (shorter days as we head towards winter), a chemical chain reaction occurs that tells the plant that it’s time to stop growing, hunker down, and get ready for a big chill.”- source here. The tree then enters a period of dormancy. “Dormancy is like hibernation in that everything within the plant slows down. Metabolism, energy consumption, growth and so on”- source here.
Ok, enough with the science lesson. If you are still with me, let me just say we all need a time of rest and refreshment. For some of us that might be a day or a weekend…or even a year. God uses rest to draw us to Himself, to whisper to the quiet places of our soul. We need to make it a priority!
A daily time of rest and silence in His presence.
A weekly focus of making our Sabbath rests the gift God intended them to be in our hectic, busy lives.
A purging of obligations and stuff to simplify and create margin.
And perhaps, a calling to an even longer period of rest…
A couple years ago, I felt like God was calling me to step down from every leadership and volunteer position in which I was currently serving. This was very hard for me as a lot of my identity in the church had become tied to what I was doing. I was afraid of letting people down, I was afraid of what people would think; and I was ultimately afraid of feeling like I was useless in God’s kingdom. I wrestled with the feeling of being a pew warmer for several weeks, until I couldn’t deny the need to let go any longer. I didn’t know why at the time, but I knew God was drawing me closer to Himself. I needed to do some “pruning” in order to make time in my life. Now looking back, I can see why in His mercy, God wanted me to carve out greater margin in my life that winter. A few months later, our family left our comfortable life with a strong network of supportive friends and family to move across the country where we knew NO ONE. God knew I needed to hunker down with Him in order to help me weather the winter storm that was coming in my life.
After another hectic year of moving, starting school, and many new starts; have me yearning….longing to rest once again. I know my heart has got caught up in the hustle. The constant push to do more and be more. I find my mind reeling from all of it, and I desperately need stillness.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
So this story always kinda bothered me. Being a Martha- getter done, easily distracted by my to-do list, kinda gal, I felt like she got a bad rap. It wasn’t until recently I realized that Jesus was saying that Mary chose what was BETTER. Not that one was good and one was bad. One was good and one was better. Also, Martha wasn’t admonished for serving but for being worried and upset over her many distractions. Serving God is good. Sitting at God’s feet is essential.
As we prepare for the start of the new year, I ponder what this season of rest will continue to look like. I know there is still pruning to be done. There are still other areas in my life where I feel like God is telling me to let go.
We need to look at our schedules, our priorities, our goals for the new year in light of our need for resting at Christ’s feet.
Back to the science lesson…
The tree needs to rest through winter for its survival.
“Contrary to previous assumptions, the increasing length of the day in spring plays no big role in the timing of budding. An ample ‘cold sleep’ is what plants need in order to wake up on time in the spring,” said lead study author Julia Laube- NatureWorldNews
Did ya catch that? Trees need rest in order to bloom on time in spring. We need rest to grow and serve from the overflow of a heart and mind filled with God’s presence.
Our rest is what actually propels us towards further growth in our relationship with Christ.
” If you cease, then God will reveal. The opposite is also implied. If you refuse to be still, if you do not seek times for silence and solitude, you may gain some knowledge about God without Him at all. It is through times of silence and protracted periods of stillness that He makes Himself real.” – Charles Swindoll, So You Want To Be Like Christ?
How can you make rest a priority in 2016?
*** BIG NEWS***
Our Lent Study will start on Wednesday, February 10th! This devotional study will spend 40 days looking at the words of Jesus. We hope you will make plans to join us as we sit as our Savior’s feet and soak in His words. More information coming soon!