This is the second in a series of posts about following Jesus in rest.

For the first, go here.

In Matthew chapter 3, we find Jesus going to John the Baptist … to be baptized!

It occurs to me to wonder, why did Jesus do this? Baptism is an outward symbol of inward repentance, a burying of the old self and a birth of the new. Since Jesus had never sinned, he had nothing to repent of. John knew this. He asks Jesus, why are you here? I need to be baptized by you!

Jesus answer is that it is right to do this to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, this is how God planned it from the beginning, so this is how we’re going to do it. Jesus knows that it is not wise to try to get ahead of God, to second guess, to try to do things in one’s own way and in one’s own strength. He has waited, honoring his family commitments until this moment, the right time, the right place. Jesus knew that there is a proper order to things and it is best left to God the Father. Jesus rested in the timing of God. Can we do that? Can we trust God enough to wait? To know that he has amazing things in store for us and blessings that we can’t even imagine?

If we wait and trust … we rest.

If we strive and push and manipulate … we stress.

Additionally, we see the Spirit descending on Jesus … clearly the rest of God is facilitated by the Spirit. The more we walk with the Spirit … the more restful we will find our lives.

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“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

I’ve been working my way through a devotional by Alicia Britt Chole called “Intimate Conversations”. Today’s excerpt was based on the concept of providing for rest and margin in one’s life. This seemed to me especially fitting since it is the beginning of my spring break. I decided to take these as my theme verses for spring break.

Alica suggests that the reader “learn from” Jesus by reading through the gospels and getting a sense of the flow of Jesus life. How did he rest? How was his yoke easy? With all the demands on his life, how did he keep from becoming frazzled and burned out?

I thought it would be a great exercise and decided to read through Matthew with that aim and to share it here, with those of you who are still reading despite my seriously sporadic publishing.

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In Matthew chapters 1 and 2, of course, Jesus is not teaching anything yet; but I note two things:

First, whenever God told Joseph to go … he went. Immediately and without question. It must not have been particularly restful at the time … but from it I conclude that it is more restful to say yes to God than no. (Just make sure it IS God you are saying yes to and not your colleague, your pastor, your Sunday School Superintendent … ).

Second, Jesus is given many names in this short chapter. He is Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (1:21); He is Immanual, God with us (1:23); and in chapter 2 verse 6 He is identified as the Shepherd of Israel.

Jesus had a destiny to fulfill, a purpose for being on this earth. I imagine that, at least in part, His serenity came from living in that purpose and letting nothing distract Him from fulfilling that destiny. Part of our journey on earth surely must be to discover that purpose, that thing which God has prepared in advance for us to do, and living in it. It sounds restful, doesn’t it?

My name (Anna) means grace … which is kinda funny, because I’m a little clumsy. But I am growing into my name spiritually – becoming more and more able to offer grace instead of judgement, to give others the benefit of the doubt, to begin to see people the way Jesus sees them. But the Bible says that the one who overcomes will get a new name (Rev. 2:17). Perhaps, our journey on earth is to become fitted for that new name, and as we become more and more aware of who God has made us to be, and as we conform more and more to that name, we experience more and more of that elusive rest that is spoken of in Matthew …

… what do you think?

Jesus
help me
i feel far away
and empty

remember

you are near
when I don’t feel it

remember

as the Father has love me
so I have loved you
remain

remember

Jesus
help me

remember

by: anna lenardson

I have a young friend, age 7, who has roots on three continents. He has only been speaking English for a little over a year. While his accent is more or less American, he speaks with a precision that is seldom found in our young people.

Yesterday, I was speaking with him after school. He was enjoying a yogurt drink. He threw the cap in the trash. (Our school collects plastic bottle caps which get recycled and the proceeds are donated to provide wheelchairs for children.) I said to him, Don’t you want to save that for the collection? He gave me a look like it would be way too much trouble to fish it out of the trash and carry it (20 steps!) to the kitchen.

I said, They use those for wheelchairs for children.

He said, in his precise English, What is a wheelchair?

It’s a chair for children who can’t walk. Like Isaac (my son).

He said, No they do not! That is too small!

I explained to him that they don’t use the actual caps, but the money they earn from them to help provide wheelchairs for children.

It was a funny moment, but it made me think. How often do I think that things are too small to bother with. My little bottle cap makes no difference. I might as well just throw it away.

Not true.

Not true with things. Not true with people.

What I have and what I am is enough. God promised me so. I just need to give it faithfully, diligently, even when 20 steps feels like too much of a bother.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

 Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. – Edmund Burke

Here’s another:

I do it for Jesus. Mother Theresa

AlphabetAlphabet, Books, Cucumbers, Digital Cameras, Ezri, Frogs, Gardening, Hats, Isaac, Jumprope, Kites, Lazing around, Moonlight, Nature, Owls, Paper, Quiet, Robb, Shyanna, Thinking, Umbrellas, Vacation, Words, Xmas, Young people, Zeal.

If you missed part 1, go here.

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ -Jeremiah 33:3

Here’s the thing. It’s not that I think the analogy of the Bible as our “owner’s manual” or “rulebook” is wrong; it’s just that it’s so limited.barnums_animal_crackers

We want order, instructions, procedures, guarantees. If we follow the rules, we want our lives to “work out”. We want to put tab A into slot B and end up with a nice little box for our animal crackers. But, what if God wants to scatter your animal crackers across the sea? What if, for your good, he wants to let them get a little chewed up and broken? What if he gives you way too many animal crackers for your neat little box? What if he just gives you one, special one, to cherish close to your heart? (whew … talk about taking an analogy too far …)

I’ve seen people ask a question and close their eyes and point with their finger … like the Bible is a magic 8 ball. It’s not that I don’t think God can work in that way … but it is so self-focused. How do we know we’re asking the right question? We might be having a problem with a co-worker, and be so focused on that that we miss the “great and unsearchable things” God has for us.

The Bible does have guidelines for how to live, but, I think the secret to learning them, to living them is going deeper into him. If we simply look for procedures, but miss the relationship … it’s going to be mighty hard to follow the manual.

We follow, not because it’s right, but because he loved and he gave … out of love and gratitude for who he is and what he’s done. The more we know him, the more we know how.

So, maybe the right question (or at least a good question) is, may I see you in my reading today?

What do you think?

Every once in a while I hear the Bible described as an owner’s manual. Every time I hear it, it makes me cringe. I understand that analogies have their limitations, but this is a particularly puny description of the Bible.

Here’s what I mean.

The Bible is a mystery. Have any of you ever read a passage and it spoke to you one way; and another day the exact same passage speaks to you in an entirely different way? I have. A lot. How many owner’s manuals do you have that speak to you differently according to your needs?

Me neither.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

The Bible is a love letter. The Bible tells us how our Creator and Father feels about us. The whole thing is a record of how he made us and how he loves us and how he made a way for us to be restored into a relationship with him. Do you have any owner’s manuals written by someone who loves you and wants you to talk to him everyday?

Me neither. P1030688

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

The Bible is a story. It’s a story about Jesus. It’s about how Jesus made us, made everything for us, and then came himself to show us how to live. It’s about what happens when we try to live without Jesus. It’s story after story that point us to Jesus, overtly and obliquely. (There’s a better explanation of this here.)
An owner’s manual is a list of instructions for optimal performance. It doesn’t challenge us to think, cause us to love, or inspire us to live well.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The Bible (and by the way the Christian life) is not about a list of rules: do this, and don’t do that, and you’re life will be easier, better, more productive and successful (you’ll drive a newer car and look like the models on TV). The Bible (and by the way the Christian life) is about a relationship, between Creator and creature, Father and child, Lover and loved.

Note: All italicized selections are from the Bible.