It is my honour to share a message with you again this month that I pray will help you focus and rest in God. The times we live in is such that people consider you to be progressing or successful by how busy your life is. I want to challenge you to investigate your life and take stock of the activities you are currently engaged in and see if they align with the vision of the future you envision.
Friends, if there is anything I would want to implore you to do moving forward for the rest of this year, it is to live a purposeful life. If there is anyone that needs to be pleased with your decisions, it must be God and YOU. You must learn to live at peace with the decisions you make for your life. You cannot afford to live a life that aims to please others but displease God and yourself. When others are long gone, you will have to give account to God about what you have done with the grace, gifts and talents He gave you. Most importantly, you will be in the company of yourself when others are not there. So, make decisions that honour God and that you can live with based on your peculiar strengths and all the resources and opportunities you have available to you now.
Some years ago, I learnt this difficult lesson about life. And the lesson is that I must own my decisions. I am open to all the counsel from others around me; especially the mentors, coaches, teachers, and even some of my peers God has enriched my life with who are knowledgeable in certain areas. I collect all the necessary information, counsel, and ideas, but then I prayerfully and thoughtfully make the decision that is best for the situation I am in. Once this decision is made, I am ready to take all the blame if anything goes wrong and I learn from any mistakes I make in the process. If on the other hand things go well, I take responsibility for it as well. This mindset has helped me to take responsibility for my actions and not try to blame anyone when things do not go as planned.
I said all of these to let us know that we are responsible for the joy or lack of joy we experience in our lives. Joy is a decision and one you need to make constantly. What steals our joy sometimes is unmet expectations we have for ourselves or others. God never called us to serve Him grumpily. He wants us to serve Him and others around us, from the place of peace and rest. You might be wondering what rest has to do with all the things you have on your to-do list? Others might be asking, "How can I get more done in the little time I have and not go crazy?"
Let me share a true story with you. There is this argument that goes on with my sons every night at bedtime. My oldest son will always ask, “Why do we need to sleep?”, “Why is there night?”. So, for a long time, I told them about the importance of rest and how we all grow when we rest. I figured this should make sense to them since they are in such a hurry to grow up. This explanation only works for few minutes before they start to ask the same question again. After some time, I thought providing them with a biblical reason for rest should end the argument once and for all since we are already teaching them that the Bible has the final authority in our lives. We are teaching them to look to the scripture for God’s mind on issues we face in our daily lives.
On this day, I opened the scripture to Genesis 2:1-3 and I asked my oldest son to read to us.
Genesis 2:1-3 New International Reader's Version
2 So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing. So on that day he rested from all his work. 3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy. He blessed it because on that day he rested from all the work he had done.
Just when I thought this would finally settle this issue once and for all, my sons pointed out to me that God only rested on the seventh day, and He did not need to rest every day so they also don’t need to sleep every day. I had a good laugh watching them present their case with all the seriousness of a six-year-old and a four-year-old but then it also got me thinking. A lot of us are still trying to excuse ourselves from resting; looking for ways to reason God into allowing us to over work ourselves, carry the burdens of life that we are not equipped to carry. We refuse to allow Him bear those burdens on our behalf. In fact, some of us think we can do a better job than God by worrying and trying to figure things out on our own without His help and involvement until things become too messy for us to handle.
Some of us relate to God - our Father - like He is bothered when we ask for His help all the time. Until we fix our view of God, our relationship with Him will suffer. A thriving relationship with the Father is one where we come to Him unashamed, not hiding anything from Him – He is the all-knowing God and there is really nothing we can hide from him. Our mistakes and short-comings should drive us into the arms of our Father and not away from Him. We must be convinced of His love for us and be assured that nothing can separate us from His love. Do not be tired of going to Him for mercy, for forgiveness, cleansing and a warm embrace.
Let us look at some of His promises and assurance towards us. We will look at some scriptures to see His invitation to us to draw close to Him.
Psalm 55:22 New Living Translation
22 Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
1 Peter 5:7 New Living Translation
7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
The first scripture admonishes us to give our burdens to the Lord; we can also see the same thing being repeated in 1 Peter 5:7. In fact, this one does not leave room for you to hold back any of your cares and worries. God wants all of them. I love the way both scriptures end. The first one ends with “He will not permit the godly to slip and fall” and the second one ends with “for he cares about you”.
Look at the dictionary meaning of permit – “to allow to do something; to afford opportunity or possibility; give authorization or consent to”. Dictionary meaning of care – “serious attention; look after and provide for the needs of; attach importance to”. Here in Psalm 55:22 God is saying to us that He will not authorize or consent to our slipping or falling, but this promise only holds true if we are willing to roll over our burdens to the Lord. We are susceptible to fall or slip when we become overwhelmed with things happening with and around us. We are not designed for worry or anxious thoughts. Mental issues are not the only results of being anxious; our physical health also suffers. Many health issues can be traced to worry and anxiety.
This month, I encourage you to rest in the love of God for you and make a decision to be joyful because He has promised not to permit you to slip or fall.