About a week ago I posted about the irony of Sabbath. This past Sunday, I preached a sermon on Sabbath. So this week, I took my own advice and set aside a day for rest. There were several things I needed to do that I put on hold, trusting that God would provide for me. Now, bear in mind, this is not an excuse for laziness. I was not shirking responsibilities and assuming God would catch me as I fell. I was casting my cares on him (1 Peter 5:7). It wasn’t an excuse to not work. It was an excuse to not worry. I fully intended on picking my responsibilities back up after resting. To be honest, I didn’t expect much to happen. I know that sounds bad, but I just assumed I would maybe have a little more energy the next day. As often happens, God exceeded my expectations.
There are several things going on in my life right now that I am worrying about. I can’t get into all of it, but suffice it to say that they are causing me a significant amount of stress. One simple example is that I’m teaching an online course. As a student, I tended to hate online courses. Except for one. Church History from the Reformation with Dr. Ryan Reeves. Sure, he gets points for having an awesome name. But beyond that, his class was one of the best I took at Gordon-Conwell. If you don’t believe me, visit his YouTube channel and watch some of his videos. They are awesome.
So that was the standard I had for my course. It wasn’t really being met, and that’s being kind. I was stressed, not sure how to get any better at the videos I was trying to make. So I sent Dr. Reeves a message. Bear in mind, I’d taken one class with him about a year ago. Since it was an online class, there’s no real reason for him to remember me, or to respond to me. So I sent it, but assumed I’d hear nothing back. I assumed my videos would languish in mediocrity (I’m a bit dramatic when I’m stressed). Then I received a response.
Nearing the end of my sabbath, Dr. Reeves responded.
I spent a whole day telling God, “You are big enough to provide for the details of my life. I trust you.” God came through. Dr. Reeves provided incredible insight, encouragement, and advice. This is a small victory, but it is a victory. That’s part of the purpose of the sabbath: consistently giving you small victories to build your faith in God. The next time I stress out, I’ll remember this week (or at least I’ll try to).
I wouldn’t say all my issues have resolved. But this week reminded me that instead of hoping for them to change, I need to let go of my issues and let God do his work. If he changes them, that’s great. But it’s also great if he changes me. See, even if my circumstances don’t improve, God is working in me so that I can see those circumstances differently. So either my circumstances improve or I improve by being conformed to the image of Christ. Win-win.*
When I woke up this morning I thought, “That’s a silly thing to blog about. No one cares about your minor breakthroughs.” Then I opened “On This Day” in Facebook. Here’s what I wrote four years ago:
Christ purchased rest for you. But rest does not come because chaos has subsided. That rest comes in the midst of chaos. It comes at the table prepared for me in the presence of my enemies. This rest does not vanquish evil. It instead robs evil of it’s ability to ruin your life. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Regardless of what is happening in your life right now, enjoy the peace that Christ has purchased for you. Rest in him today, even in the midst of turmoil.
I don’t know what breakthrough you need. I don’t know what stresses you out. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, take it to the throne. Take it to Jesus. Hand it to him, and let him draw your focus off of your problems and on to his love for you. As the old hymn says:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.