I Will Give You Rest

Raise your hand if you’re not sleeping well. An unscientific sampling of my friends and colleagues tells me that many of us are struggling with the inability to fall asleep when we go to bed, experiencing restless nights, or waking up hours before the alarm goes off. I try to take the opportunity in those times to pray, but even the comfort of laying my burdens down before God isn’t enough to bring rest sometimes. Not because God is inadequate, but because I seem to have a perverse need to pick everything back up that I just laid at his feet.

How about you? Are you tossing and turning as well?

When Moses was on his final leg into the Promised Land he was sleepless. The strain from fighting Pharaoh, leading his ornery people through an unforgiving wilderness, and the realization that this huge nation was about to enter a land already filled with hostile people finally overcame him. He pleaded with God for his protection and presence. He knew he couldn’t go it alone.

Exodus 33 (New Revised Standard Version)

12 Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 

14 The Lord said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

This phrase brings reassurance that God’s presence goes with us everywhere we go. When we can fully immerse ourselves in that reality, rest will come to us.

Rest is a gift of God that can only be opened when we truly let go of all of our worries and cast all of our cares upon him….which is so hard to do! Our brains want to keep “working the problem.” It takes a lot of submission to give things over and leave them there.

15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.”

Moses asks God to be his strength and his shield against all the ites….the Moabites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, and all the other ites who will attack the Hebrew nation as they attempt to settle in the land. Do you have ites attacking you? Jealous-ites? Fear-ites? Anger-ites? Illness-ites? Betrayal-ites? Listen to how God answers Moses and remember that HE KNOW YOUR NAME, TOO.

17 The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” 19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.“

Take that, all you ites!! We are the Lord’s people and we will not be moved. God knows us by name and he brings us goodness, mercy, graciousness, and deliverance.

So rest in that. God knows you by name and he goes before every problem and issue you are facing. Thanks be to God! 

God Goes Before Us by Michelle Robertson

Sins of My Youth

One of the blessings of the pandemic is the ability to participate in ZOOM calls. Conversely, one of the curses of the pandemic is the ability to participate in ZOOM calls. Yes, it is amazing to sit at home and make decisions with people all over the country without the expense and wear and tear of travel. But ZOOM is a one-dimensional platform that leaves you wanting more and too many in one day can slap wear you out.

I have a weekly ZOOM call with my daughters and niece that is truly in the blessing category. We laugh until we cry and sometimes I forget about the troubles of the world when we are talking. It has become a wonderful time to share memories and they are especially interested in things I share with them about my mother/their grandmere. Recently I shared a memory of something she told me that they found hilarious and a little shocking. Now they are pumping me for more. I am having to edit not only telling them about the sins of my youth, but the sins of my mother’s youth as well!

Luckily for us, God never remembers the sins of our youth as long as we have confessed them and repented. If he were on a ZOOM call with you and you said, “Hey God, remember that time I did XYZ?” his response would be “Nope.”

Psalm 25 (Common English Bible)

I offer my life to you, Lord.
    My God, I trust you.
Please don’t let me be put to shame!
    Don’t let my enemies rejoice over me!
For that matter,
    don’t let anyone who hopes in you
        be put to shame;
    instead, let those who are treacherous without excuse be put to shame.

Everyone who hopes in God will not be put to shame. Even in a time of correction, God’s unconditional love and mercy lead the way. He is always trying to save us and we can count on his faithful love forever.

Make your ways known to me, Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth—teach it to me—
    because you are the God who saves me.
        I put my hope in you all day long.
Lord, remember your compassion and faithful love—
    they are forever!
But don’t remember the sins of my youth or my wrongdoing.
    Remember me only according to your faithful love
        for the sake of your goodness, Lord.

We know from scripture that a repented sin is flung as far away as the east is from the west. Thanks be to God, we can trust him to always do the right thing, always guide us in righteousness, and lead us in his truth. He forgives and forgets all of our wrongdoing.

The Lord is good and does the right thing;
    he teaches sinners which way they should go.
God guides the weak to justice,
    teaching them his way.

Are you still carrying a heavy sin from your youth? Let it go. Lay it down under the cross and walk away. Confess it to your Heavenly Father and receive his permanent forgiveness. He will teach you his way and you will never have to carry it again. You may remember it…but God never will.

Cast All Your Cares Upon Him by Cheryl Smith

The Next Invasion

Did you know that cicadas, who have lived underground for 17 years, are planning their comeback? According to ABC News, millions of cicadas will soon make an appearance in the southern part of the United States. They can damage plants when they lay their eggs, causing branches and leaves to split and die. But the greatest threat is to our ears. Cicadas are LOUD, and in numbers estimated to be upwards of one and a half million cicadas per acre, that’s a lot of buggy volume.

I lived through a cicada invasion over 30 years ago when my husband and I were stationed in Texas with the Navy. Having grown up in the northeast, we had never heard of cicadas. All of a sudden we were experiencing the 11th plague. Noisy, flying bugs were literally dropping from the sky en masse. When you drove into the K-Mart parking lot, you could hear them crunching under your tires. We would make a mad dash from the car to the front door and were covered in them in the 30 seconds it took to run. There was no getting away. Picnics and outdoor events were cancelled. They were loud enough to keep us awake at night. Fortunately, the life span of a cicada only lasts four to six weeks, so at least there was an end in sight.

In defense of the cicada, the screeching sounds they make are part of their life cycle. Having no access to dating apps such as Tinder or eharmony, they default to their biology:

The noises that cicadas produce are mating calls from the males who are attempting to attract females. It could be an annoyance to some, considering it is described as an “alien-like wail,” according to Virginia Tech. (ABC News)

Surely this impending invasion will bring a new kind of suffering to the communities they invade.

In 1 Peter, we are given a word of encouragement about suffering. Christians all over the world were experiencing persecution for their belief in Jesus Christ. One of the most significant verses in scripture appears in this passage when we are invited to turn all our worries over to God:

1 Peter 5 (New Revised Standard Version)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 

Are you experiencing anxiety? Do you worry about your life, your future, your health, your job, and your family? God cares for YOU. You are invited to cast your cares upon the creator of the universe. Imagine that!

Peter then offers sound advice about how to combat the source of many of our troubles. Be disciplined. Stay alert. Resist the devil. Look ahead to your deliverance.

Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10 And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

So when suffering comes, remember that you are in good company. Give all that anxiety over to the one who will restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. Your steadfast faith and God’s power will bring you through anything. Even a cicada invasion.

Sunlight Flowers by Jan Johnson