Pastor's Perspective, Rest and Be Restored
By: Andrew Bates
Dry. Dry can be a good thing when you’re dealing with laundry or freshly mopped floors, but when it pertains to your spiritual walk with Christ, dry is not ideal. Scratch that — dry is downright dangerous.
A couple of years ago I was experiencing a very spiritually dry time in my life and the sad thing is that I knew it but couldn’t do anything about it. I was striving so hard to please God and to put in extra hours at my church, so much so that I actually planned to skip out on a family vacation to Navarre Beach, Florida, to stay at the church and “work.” Needless to say, neither my wife nor my family was very pleased, but I thought it was what I needed to do. I needed to work my way out of dryness.
After an event on the Wednesday night of vacation week, my assistant looked at me and boldly said something to me I will never forget: “You’re never going to work your way into pleasing God. Go love your wife.” So needless to say I jumped in my truck, packed a bag, and drove through the night to the beach.
When I arrived, the sun was just starting to rise. I knew my wife would not be awake yet, so instead of banging on the condo window and scaring everyone inside, I grabbed my bible and walked down to the beach. To say I was tired would be an understatement, and not just from the drive. I was spiritually, emotionally, and physically exhausted. So before I dove into Scripture, I prayed, “God, I am so tired. I am tired of being tired. Please renew me.”
I then opened my bible to Isaiah 40 and read verses 29-31: “He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.” (HCSB)
As soon as I finished reading that passage, I looked out over the water and noticed a very large boat I had apparently overlooked before. As I began to study the boat, I realized it had a large pipe connected to it that ran all the way to the shore, where it was pumping in new sand to restore the beach.
At that moment, it hit me. I needed to be restored. I needed God to restore my strength. But the thing was, He didn’t need my help to do it. All I needed to do was be like the beach. I needed to slow down, stop my fighting, stop working and worrying myself thin, and simply rest in who He was and who I was in Him. Dry could not fix dry, but if I rested in the One who gives life, then I would be restored.
I think too often in life we respond a lot like I did in this story. We feel the pressure. We feel the need to grow. We feel the tension of the oncoming dryness. But instead of resting in God, and allowing Him to renew us in the way that only He can, we want to try to work and transform ourselves. It’s in our nature to be “fixers” and overcome our own shortcomings, but the gospel of Jesus teaches us that we are fully incapable of overcoming these obstacles. He’s the only one who can do that for us, and thankfully, He loved us enough to come and overcome all of our trials and struggles for us. It is with this heart Jesus said the words of Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (HCSB)
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, dry, or overrun with the treadmill of life, rest in Jesus. Trust in the one who has overcome the world.
Andrew Bates is the Teaching/Site Pastor at Chapel in the Oaks in Baton Rouge. With his wife Emily, he “invests in people’s lives”— opening up their home for meals and fellowship, discipling younger believers, engaging people where they are in life, and attempting to bring a smile to everyone they meet. He can be reached at Andrew.firstname.lastname@example.org.