Posts Tagged ‘rest’

1 Samuel 27:1-7
David Among the Philistines

As I sit here mid-morning on a Saturday on my couch beginning this blog at a time that is usually late for me. It is now a quarter til 11am. It is this lazy pace on a Saturday that is much needed. I needed to sleep late on this Saturday. For this 55 year old man, sleeping late means til around 8:30 or til my bladder demands attention – whichever comes first. But since I got out of bed, Elena and I have been reading our daily devotionals, drinking coffee, and having conversations about church business, church plans for the future, our potential parts in all that, and just about life in general. Rest. Much needed leisurely pace.

Prior to this weekend, we have not really had a weekend to just catch our breath since we moved to Illinois. We have either been packing, unpacking, looking for houses, and moving again from our temporary apartment to the home we purchased in Rock Island – doing much of the moving of personal items ourselves in the back of my SUV. And then there was the unpacking of everything (we didn’t unpack all of our personal belongings at the temp apartment) and putting it into place where we (I really mean, Elena…LOL) wanted it. Then there was all during our first two months here were activities on either Friday or Saturday (my normal days off) that were necessary because of special circumstances in the life of the church. Add to that, we had to travel back to the Charlotte, NC area last weekend and the first two days of this past week for events related to the funeral for Elena’s dad. So, yesterday and today, is the first weekend that we have had with no real commitments or things to do. Outside of a drop-in related to our life group, we have had and will have no agenda for this weekend. Yesterday, we were actually able to take care of tax stuff related to our house and our cars to make us official Illinois residents. But that was because we had the time for the first time to do it. And, today, like I said, outside of the drop-in, we do not have any agenda at all. We needed this weekend. I needed this weekend. Rest. Much needed leisurely pace.

I think that sometimes as pastors and pastoral couples, and as Christ followers in general, we get so caught up in the business or busy-ness of the church life that you forget to take time to rest and relax. We forget in our busy-ness why we are doing what we are doing. For those who are not employed by churches, the same is true too. We get so busy with soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, football, etc. with our kids and paying bills and getting to our “leisure activities” that we get so tired out that we forget to rest and relax. We forget to take in the wonders of God. We forget to take in the blessings that He has bestowed upon us. That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 27:1-7, this morning. Let’s read it now together:

Chapter 27
1 But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.”

2 So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. 3 David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath. David brought his two wives along with him—Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel. 4 Word soon reached Saul that David had fled to Gath, so he stopped hunting for him.

5 One day David said to Achish, “If it is all right with you, we would rather live in one of the country towns instead of here in the royal city.”

6 So Achish gave him the town of Ziklag (which still belongs to the kings of Judah to this day), 7 and they lived there among the Philistines for a year and four months.

In this passage, we saw that Saul finally stopped pursuing David. His army was not strong enough to invade Philistia and battle with its army with the goal being simply to track down one man. Further, with David out of the country, the immediate threat to Saul’s throne was gone with David out of the country. In God’s sovereignty, David knew that there was a time of peace needed. David needed a place to rest and regroup and have a place to call home for a while. We all need times of rest. We all need a place to call home.

For Elena and I this morning, it is really the first morning that we can sit and relax and realize that this is home. We have been living temporarily in many ways since we started packing up our house in Lyman prior to the movers coming on February 14th. We have been on the go with activity, living temporarily with family before we left for Illinois, slightly unpacking at the temporary apartment, all the go-go-go that has characterized the first few weeks on the job and uneasiness of learning my new role as Director of Business/Staff Pastor at the church, seeking a house, buying a house, moving and unpacking everything and putting it into place, Easter at church, traveling back and forth to/from Charlotte, and now breathe…exhale…rest.

David needed it, too. He had been on the run for so long. Living temporarily every he could find a moment. Fleeing from a man trying to kill him. The move to Philistia and gaining a town he could call home for a while. A place to take his armor off. A place to sit by the fire without his sword at his side. A time to sleep without one eye open. It may have seemed as though David had lost faith in God’s ability by fleeing to Philistia but I don’t see it that way. Because of our last two months of flurry, I can see where David just wanted to get out of harm’s way and catch his breath and live a normal life for a while. He was a warrior for sure but even warriors need down time. In God’s sovereignty, David was guided to rest and wait for the inevitable death of Saul. He had been on the run. He needed rest. He would become king and the rest of his life would be filled with royal management duties. He needed this moment. God knew David needed this rest. This time of not scheming and planning and running and avoiding. He needed this time.

That is my prayer for you today as well. Let us remember that we need rest. God even rested on the 7th day of His cycle of creation to demonstrate to us that we need down time. God is eternal and all powerful and does not sleep since He is existence, He is being, He is I AM but His resting on the 7th day was for us, to demonstrate to us that rest is necessary. We need rest so that we do not get burnt out in life. As Christ followers, we need rest so that we do not get so caught up in the tasks of carrying the gospel to the nations that we forget that it is the gospel that is important not the tasks. The tasks are necessary to carry the gospel message but the tasks are not the reason for what we do. We must have rest. We must have time to seek God in quiet and peace. We need time to restore our vigor for what we are doing. If we get caught up in the doing of Christianity, we forget the being of Christianity. We cannot get so caught up in the doing that we forget to develop and nurture relationships. We cannot get so caught up in the busy-ness of being a Christ follower that we forget to be the light on the hill to the unchurched. We need rest. We need to be able to take stock and take a breath. We need time with God just being with Him. Take time to rest. Take time to forget the details for a moment. Take time to look up toward the heavens and see God and be with God.

Amen and Amen.

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Joshua1:10-18 (Part 2 of 4)

Joshua’s Charge to the Israelites

 

What a weekend! Constantly on the go. I did not have time to write me blog for the last two mornings we were so busy. Starting with Relay for Life Spartanburg on Friday night. Then, after that we went to Spartanburg Regional Hospital to visit our friends, Randy and Missy. Randy’s elderly father is seriously ill. We got home Friday night about 11pm. Saturday morning, I squeezed in an hour or two of getting our checkbook up to date. Then, it was shower time and time to hit the road. Saturday to Iva, SC to put flowers on my mom’s grave. Then immediately onto southside Charlotte to A Piece of Havana for dinner with Elena’s family. On to Fort Mill to hang out at Michelle’s place and spend the night. Up and at it again on Sunday morning for 9:30 service at Elevation Church-Ballentyne, the main campus of the megachurch. Then, lunch with Michelle after church at Red Robin in Ballentyne. Then on to see Elena’s mom at the assisted living center near Gastonia on the westside of Charlotte. Then back down Interstate 85 to Greenville to have dinner with Meghan, Curtis and my 9 ½ month old granddaughter, Ralyn, at the restaurant, Southern Culture. After the whirlwind of Upstate South Carolina and the Charlotte, NC area, we finally got home about 8:00 or so Sunday night. After getting all the Mother’s Day gifts and our luggage out of the car, we both plopped down on the couch and love seat, respectively, and finally had some rest. I think we both feel asleep watching the movie, The Help, by 10pm. We were tired from our weekend’s journey and needed a place to rest and be quiet and relax. We needed rest. How busy we were this weekend is a contrast to what I wanted to write about in this, the next blog on the passage, Joshua 1:10-18. This second blog is about rest.

 

When I think of rest, I think of my Mom who lived the life of a preacher’s wife for 52 years. She served the Lord not in some flashy way. She was never in the pulpit, but she was the preacher’s wife – the most overworked, least respected, and underpaid job there is in the world. She supported her husband, the preacher, all those years. She he was no perfect man. He is still imperfect today. She knew his faults but she defended him with tenacity and grace all those years. She loved her husband and defended his job and his family all those years. She made him a home where he could escape the hard toil that is being a preacher. She followed him around the state as the wife of a United Methodist Church minister. Moving from town to town and from church to church. She would always uproot her kids and follow her man anywhere he led us in service to the United Methodist Church in South Carolina. She always found a job in each new town even if it meant driving a half hour or an hour to the location of her job. She sacrificially stunted her career over the years to follow her husband to the next appointment, the next small South Carolina town. In retirement, her health began to fail and in the last four years of her life, there were multiple back surgeries that left her half the woman that she once was. After that last surgery a year before her death, when it gave her no relief from her chronic back pain that was with her with every step and every twist of her body, I think she just gave up on living here on earth. Then, she began the slow descent into dementia. It was difficult to watch. My mother was just tired. She was tired of living and living in pain. She had raised her boys into two good men (though they had their faults aplenty too) that were productive citizens. Her youngest son, me, was finally settled in a good marriage and had moved back to South Carolina from California so she seemed to show signs that her work here was done. However, the body was not yet ready to go. The last year of her life, she was filled with the paranoia and weird recollections of random thoughts and living in a world in her mind that only she knew. That was not the mom I knew and loved. Finally, her body gave out in a nursing home in Iva, SC on November 17, 2010. It was there she found rest. Her long journey was done. Raising two kids to adulthood and seeing them have their own children and raising them into adulthood. Experiencing all those wonderful years of grandparenting. Loving her family in her own unique way. She was now done with the journey, the long hard journey of the life of a preacher’s wife and mother and grandmother. She crossed over the Jordan and into the Promised Land. She now had her rest. No more health struggles. No more work struggles. No more being preacher’s wife struggles. No more struggles. Rest.

 

When I think of rest, I think of my wife of seven (7) years now, Elena. She is my rest in so many ways. She creates a home for me that is my resting place from the world. She takes care of the details of my life so that I may have rest when I am not working, which I do a lot. She takes care of the house so I don’t have to so that I might have rest. She takes care in that way that I might have a warm, hospitable home as a respite from the world. But she is my rest in other ways as well. Elena ended the turmoil of my life and gave me spiritual rest as well. After two failed marriages which were full of drama and the spiritual equivalent of riding on The Scream Machine at Six Flags over Georgia, and then dating multiple women between the end of the second marriage and meeting her was like equally scary amusement park rides where there are great emotional ups and downs. She was the one that settled my life down and gave me spiritual rest. She is that safe haven. She is that harbor from the storm. She gives admiration that I do not deserve. She gives me unconditional love that I need. She gives me peace. She gives me rest. Is that not what a wife is supposed to do for her husband. He is supposed to protect and provide for her. A wife is supposed to be her husband’s safe place. A wife is to be her husband’s rest. Elena is my rest.

 

When I think of rest, I think of the newest mother than I know, my oldest daughter, Meghan. If there was ever a girl born to be a mother it was her. She now has her own daughter, little Miss Ralyn. I think of how Meghan is her young daughter’s rest. When you are a baby, the world is a big, scary place. You were comfortable in your mother’s womb for 9 months and all of a sudden you are in this big, loud, scary world. Everything is new and frightening and unknown. Everything is new. For a baby, their mothers are their safe place where everything is safe, secure and right. I love to see Ralyn snuggle up to her mom as if it the perfect place to be. For Ralyn, it is the perfect place to be. Meghan is her mother. Her mother is her comfort, security and warmth. Meghan loves her daughter you can tell. They are almost inseparable. A mother’s love for her child is transcendent. It is something that we really don’t appreciate as we are growing up. But when we have children of our own, we do think about how our Moms were always there to pick us up when we were tired and how we felt so warm and secure in her arms as we fell asleep. Our moms were our rest. They are that little slice of heaven for their children where everything is right, pure, and perfect. I see that in Ralyn’s eyes when she sees her mom. Meghan is her comfortable, safe, warm, place of rest.

 

That idea of rest from struggles is what I think of today as I read through this passage a second time with a focus on Joshua 1:13. The whole passage of Joshua 1:10-18 says this:

 

10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”

 

12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said, 13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them 15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

 

16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”

 

In v. 13, we see that God was giving his people rest. This concept was wonderful news to the Israelites who had been on the move for a generation. This generation of Israelites knew nothing but an nomadic existence. They had heard of the promises of the Promised Land but they would not know of its reality until now. The people who had no land would be given land. The people who had no land of their own would be given a home land. And, most of all, after the land was conquered, there would be rest, glorious rest. Being able to build a permanent home, plant crops, raise animals in basically the same place all the time, create cities and towns, permanence. This rest was to be so welcomed by the Israelites.

 

The Promised Land reminds us of what heaven is for all those who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. When we get to heaven, we will finally have our safe place. My mom already knows of this. She passed into heaven in November 2010. She has that perfect rest. We will all join her someday. We are safe and secure in that knowledge when we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. We will be able to rest with Him. There will be no more struggles. There will be no more tears. There will be no more pain. There will be no more evil. There will be only rest. We will receive our reward, rest. We will have run the good race. We will have our rest. We will have that place where our comfort, warmth and security will be assured in the arms of our God. We will no longer struggle with life’s ups and downs. Everything will be a perfect home. A place to be at rest and at peace. We live in a world where it is scary and mean and nasty and the women in our lives, our mothers, our wives, our daughters, show us the meaning of warmth, love, security, home, and rest. The women whom we celebrated this weekend are imperfect earthly representations of what we will feel when we are in heaven. Warmth, love, home, security, rest…above all rest.

Amen and Amen.