From the Couch to the Throne

By nature, I am a couch potato.

I don’t mind a day at home with no plans, a blanket and a couch to myself.

That, to me, is a picture of a wonderful day.

However, I came to realize today that this “couch potato” personality trait can become more of a hindrance than I once thought.

Thanksgiving Break. A chance to break away from the routine of work (for me a teacher) and relax. Every year, I look forward to time spent at home being a “couch potato”. And if I’m honest, this is simply all I really want to do. Yes, spending time with family is something I enjoy as well but there’s just something about waking up, eating breakfast, then hitting the couch.

However, this break was a little different. Without even realizing it, every day of break was full of a list of “to-dos”. As I looked at the week ahead of me, I saw a rushed week instead of a relaxing one. This is where the bitterness began.

Bitter about no free time for me…

No time to relax watching the Today show, my Hallmark series, the back of my eye lids etc…

Bitterness, by definition, means “anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly“.

After reading the definition, can I say guilty as charged?…

As I sat on the couch this morning for the first time all week, the Saturday before going back to work, God woke me up. (I was not sleeping I might add…)

For me, when God wakes me up it feels at first like a little tug on my heart, or a whisper to me heart and today that is exactly what occurred…

His whisper to my heart said, “Come”.

But my heart said “No”.

You see Jesus, all week I have been running around or letting my schedule run me but today, I finally get to do what I want. I finally get to lay here with my blanket, my coffee and the TV. I am finally getting to “relax”. I would rather “come” to You later….

Ouch… Hearing that come out doesn’t feel quite like it did the first time…

But in all honesty, this is exactly what my heart whispered back to God this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE spending time with my Jesus but this morning, I chose Me instead of the Master.

In James 4:8, James says,

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.”

His drawing nigh to me is dependent on me drawing nigh to Him. He longs to draw nigh and invade our moments but experiencing His “nighness” is up to us.

He, the Creator of the Universe, longs to draw nigh to me.

And this morning, I rejected that.

I chose to cling to my own bitterness instead of the presence of the Almighty.

Although today was just one example, if I’m honest, I reject Him more than I care to admit.

I choose selfish over selfless almost daily.

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James goes on to say in verse 8,

“Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

So, I am washing my hands.

This verse should be my response each time I see my selfish heart for what it truly is, a dirty, filthy mess.

But, when I choose to wash my hands and my heart, Jesus honors that.

After continually rejecting Him, He still chooses to look past my mess and see Himself.

Now looking back on my rushed week, I see God given opportunities to create memories and moments with others which was in a way, relaxing.

That’s just what God does, transforms what we see into what He sees.

So today, I am choosing to get off my throne of a couch and enter the “throne-room” of my Father. Where He always bids me come….

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Come, See and Rest.

Lately, I have been drawn to the quietness of my room with nothing but me, my Bible and solitude.

What a beautiful scene it is to just sit and BE with God.

During the past month, I have been blessed with a large amount of time to just BE with my Lord.

I sometimes question what He is doing but I remind myself that it is not my place to question His sovereignty.

He knows what He is doing.

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That is a reminder that I need daily as I sit in His stillness and wait.

Recently, I discussed this very thing with a friend of mine. The patience in the waiting.

Satan can whisper in the waiting “You don’t need to be patient, you need to act, God isn’t doing anything, you need to do something.”

However, I have found that in the waiting  my strength is renewed, restored and rebuilt into a life of splendor.

Isaiah 55 discusses this very waiting throughout the entire chapter.

First, He draws us in by saying “Come to me”.

Next, He calls us to “see” the things He is doing all around us.

Then, throughout the rest of the chapter, He calls us to rest in His promise that His ways are not our ways.

Sometimes we get stuck between the seeing and the resting phase.

We see what is only the here and now and not how to rest in the fact that He is holding us.

I am understanding more and more that God is working all around me and if I just choose to rest, even when I feel uncomfortable in the resting….

He will open doors that I once saw closed.

He will speak words that were once just ink on a page.

He will bring to light the things that were once buried in my heart.

He will cause the waves of life around me to “be still and know” (Psalm 46:10).

When we choose through our circumstances to see Him, and not the pain, and rest even when it feels uncomfortable, He WILL.

Take hold of Isaiah 55 today and know that when we:

1. Come to Him.

2. Choose to see.

3. Rest in His sovereignty.

we begin to see our circumstances in light of who He is in the midst of them.

Then we will see in verses 12-13 that:

“You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.”

Come, see and rest in all that He is.

Quiet the World

Now, more than ever, I feel God speaking stillness into the depths of my heart. In every quiet time, in every study of the Word and in every promise given, I am reminded that He speaks in the stillness.

When my soul is quiet, there I find Him. (Psalm 62:5)

When I am weak and need His strength, He calls me to “come to Him” and He will give me rest. (Matthew 11:28)

When I feel that the next step is one of uncertainty, He says “Be still”. (Psalm 46:10)

When I feel that the chaos around me is closing in, He says “Meet me in the stillness”.

In everything, He calls me to just be still.

You see God speaks to our hearts when we are ready to hear what He has to say.

As long as our minds and souls are in an uproar, we cannot hear God’s still small voice.

Often we are so caught up in waiting for God to speak and we think that He must not want to speak to us.

The problem is, our own voice is so loud that God’s voice cannot be heard.

Only in the stillness, can we hear His still, small voice.

One story that comes to mind when I hear about calming or quieting our soul is the story of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. Just after God had rescued them from Pharaoh’s wrath, they were so quick to focus on their present situation that they forgot what God had rescued them from in the past. God spoke through Moses and told him to relay a message to the Israelites in Exodus 14:14,

“The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

So often, we are just like the Israelites. We want to place our present situation at the forefront of our minds and think that nothing is worse than our current state. We quickly forget where God has brought us and the promises He has given us for the future ahead. We forget that this life is not ours to win. God has fought the battle for us on the cross and continues to fight for us each and every day in every situation we face. We are simply called to stay calm, focus on His promises, and be still.

Just as the Israelites were about to give up all hope and let their situation take over, God parted the Red Sea and, once again, rescued them. (Exodus 14: 15-31)

Give God your stillness and see Him part the Sea ahead of you.

For after all, it’s His plan and not our own.

Selfishness and the Sabbath

Recently I have discovered that I struggle with truly “resting” from the world.

(Is it just me or is the world VERY distracting?)

Last night I realized just how distracting it really can be. I began to enter into God’s Word when I realized that my mind wasn’t really present with God as much as it should be. You see, when we are actually “present” and enveloped with God, our minds are empty and open to what God has to say. So empty that as He speaks, we are lingering on His every word and absorbing it into our innermost being.

If I’m honest, I can say that often my mind has a segregated portion of it designated for God’s voice, while my mind is still racing with the cares of this world.

Last night as I prayed and asked God to open my mind and empty it of all but Him, He spoke to me loud and clear and this is what He said:

“I need you to be selfish and keep the Sabbath sacred.”

At first, I didn’t know exactly what He meant by keeping the Sabbath sacred but then as I began reading and seeking Him out I found Him and just what I needed to hear.

As I began in Mark 6:31, He said

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Wow, even Jesus needed to take time away and rest for He knew that in that quiet place of rest, He would find His strength. You see, He, the Christ, the Miracle-worker, the Savior of the world, needed rest. He was not so busy that He didn’t need rest. So many days, we try to get everything done that we are too busy to realized how important rest truly is. Even as I am saying this I am visualizing my own to-do list. Not pleasant. However, we need to realize that just as Christ had a lot of things that were of more importance than our simple to-do list, He still valued His rest. There is a never-ending supply of lessons to learn from Jesus and this is one of them.

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After reading this Scripture I then was led into the question of, “Okay, so where do I find this rest? I know I’m supposed to go away and rest but what does that look like?”

The next Scripture Jesus led me to was in Jeremiah 6: 16,

“This is what the Lord says: Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!”

Ouch, how many times have I overlooked God’s path for my life because it wasn’t what I wanted. How many times have I turned away from obedience to Him because it just wasn’t what I saw for my life. It says here that the “old. godly way” is where my feet should walk. This old, godly way that God presents us with is His obedience. When we walk in full obedience to God we will find His rest which is the soulful rest that releases His strength in our lives. Obedience also requires an act of worship or giving our Sabbath or rest back to the Lord. As we rest in His presence or out of the connection with the world, we see that it is best to give that rest back to our Lord who first gave it to us. When we spend time in His presence, there our true rest is found.

After realizing that God was calling me to keep the Sabbath sacred by resting with Him, He left me with a Scripture that showed me just how much He gives in reward for our sacrifice of rest.

In Ezekiel 20:1-20, Ezekiel confronts God’s people about rejecting the fourth commandment which is to keep the Sabbath holy. When the people heard this they continued to disobey. How often do we look at Sunday as a day to catch up on the things we did not get a chance to do throughout the work week? In all reality, what is intended for the Sabbath and what have we made of it?

When we turn to God in obedience to His command to rest and we disconnect from the world and understand that we need rest just as much as we need fellowship with others, there we find true freedom. Freedom takes sacrifice and the sacrifice of our rest and Sabbath back to God is the way to receive that true freedom.

What a powerful and toe-stepping message from God.

There comes a point when we need to embrace our selfishness and realize how sacred the Sabbath is to our faith walk.

Rest is needed and what better reason to rest than to know that even our Savior needed a quiet place to rest.

It is in this rest that we find our freedom.

Let’s be free today and sacrifice our rest to Him!