The commercials on TV seem to equate basking under the sun in a lounge chair shaded by an umbrella on the beach while holding something cold to drink as the epitome of getting away. They try to draw us into a sense of getting us to buy into the entire picture by just buying into whatever they are selling related to one aspect of the picture—usually the cold drink. It is almost as if you can instantly step away from the hustle into harmony and bliss if you just drink what they are selling. But this is just an enticement. I think it safe to say for most that life just doesn't work that way.
Do you know anyone who it takes a couple of days of vacation or down time before he/she can begin to relax, or maybe someone who as this downtime or vacation draws near a close begins to start thinking about all that lies ahead and is making plans on how to tackle each detail? If this isn’t you, you most likely know someone like this. This is especially true of people who manage a lot of details in their work and/or businesses. There is something difficult about being able to separate the rush of our lives from our times of rest. But I think it safe to say that most of us know that we need to do this—we need to fight this fight in order to achieve times of R&R (rest and relaxation).
Similarly, this can be very true of our daily lives as we seek to set aside and protect those quiet moments where we can find rest, enjoy our spouses and our families, and most importantly spend time with our God. And as we do this with God, realizing that it doesn't happen instantly or automatically, we build discipline into our lives so that as we run to Him each day we do so with a sense of familiarity and safety in communing with our loving God, shifting our burdens to Him and trusting Him to strengthen us for what lies ahead. It is here that we can be calmed to lay all that is on our hearts and minds out before Him, as we bathe in His truth, His faithfulness, and His compassionate warmth. It is also here that we can openly admit all of our shortcomings and failings, our weaknesses and our sins, and we can know His true forgiveness and acceptance. And it is here that we can seek and hear from Him and receive guidance and wisdom for our day and the decisions and/or circumstances.
James lays out a contrast between the individual who seeks after God and the one who plays at it.
James 1:5-18 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
Then James adds verse 19, which reads “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger….”
I know this last verse has a lot to say about our relationships with others, and in particular it is one of my favorite relational verses—especially for marriages. But it also speaks about our relationship with God, and in so doing, it points us to our need to take a step back and bring everything to Him and seek His wisdom, His peace, and even His right choice of a response. Doing so not only improves our relationships with others, but it also enables us to guard our own hearts. When we realize that taking this time, even if brief, with God before we charge off has such huge impacts, then we can also grow in our understanding of the value of spending even greater times with Him. And as we spend these greater times with Him, we find that when these momentary things pop up during our days that we are increasingly mindful of our need to seek Him even then.
Toady Sarah writes about “soaking” in God’s Presence. As we enjoy the sunshine let it be a reminder of how the Son of God—Jesus Christ—has brought His Light to our lives. And when we are pressured by the heat of situations, let us also remember that we can find shelter under the shadow of His wings and rest in the safety of God’s hands.
Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (7/1)
I am Life and Light in abundance. As you spend time “soaking” in My Presence, you are energized and lightened. Through communing with Me, you transfer your heavy burdens to My strong shoulders. By gazing at Me, you gain My perspective on your life. This time alone with Me is essential for unscrambling your thoughts and smoothing out the day before you.
Be willing to fight for this precious time with Me. Opposition comes in many forms: your own desire to linger in bed; the evil ones determination to distract you from Me; the pressure of family, friends, and your own inner critic to spend your time more productively. As you grow in your desire to please Me above all else, you gain strength to resist these opponents. Delight yourself in Me, for I am the deepest Desire of your heart.
Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. Psalm 48:9
About Benjamin he said: “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4