Two years before the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, I applied to be a volunteer. It was an easy decision; I had graduated from university and was working odd jobs while travelling. My commitments were minimal at best.
By the time February 2010 arrived my life looked different: full-time job, new home, tight financial situation, conference and travel plans, and limited social opportunities. In summation I was busy, broke, and burdened.
But it was the Olympics!
I worked my regular job as long as I could before taking time off to volunteer at the Olympics. In order to meet my daunting deadlines I worked evenings after my volunteering was complete each day. Then I cut my volunteering short to make a red-eye flight for my conference commitment.
The month was a blur of public transit, text messages, and apologies. Technically, I fulfilled every commitment, but deep down I knew nothing was up to my usual standards. I came into March feeling horrible and guilty for letting everyone down.
While the rest of my life eased back into a regular pace I couldn't shake a lingering cold, which progressed into my lungs. After a few weeks I went to the doctor and was surprised by his diagnosis.
“Robyn, you are getting yourself all worked up about everything wrong with you. You need to rest.”
My reaction to the news wasn’t fantastic—I expected cold medication and instead was told I was responsible for prolonging my own illness. It felt harsh. My eyes narrowed and my jaw set to grind. I was about to pout when I remembered I’m an adult, so I opted to listen to my doctor’s words.
Upon reflection I concluded he had a point. I wasn’t taking care of myself. My stress and prolonged illness could be explained by my lack of rest. And, when I was honest with myself, I could see how my choices and unrealistic expectations were the root of my guilt, which had caused my stress, which had caused my prolonged illness. I needed to rest.
RESTING IN CHRIST
It’s critical for our bodies to get the rest they need to be physically healthy. Our minds and spirits need the same care to keep spiritually healthy.
Although I understand how to get physical rest—by going to bed earlier, taking more time to relax, and slowing my pace—the concept of finding spiritual rest is difficult to wrap my head around.
Psalm 46:1–3 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” (NASB). I try to imagine what it would be like to stay calm while witnessing mountains slipping into the sea—is it possible I can trust in God to the point my fear is erased? Is this what resting in Christ looks like?
Hebrews 13:5 takes the idea of finding rest in God’s presence a step further. “For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” But what if, in the midst of my chaos, I can’t feel God’s presence? How do I know I’m in it? How do I know for sure He won’t leave my side?
I don’t think my questions and doubts are uncommon. The Bible is filled with the stories of people who wrestled with faith and relied on God’s faithfulness. So, maybe discovering God’s presence and resting in Christ are more about having faith than about feeling Him around me.
To put it another way: I must choose to believe God is present, even if my current situation and feelings suggest the opposite. Even if the mountains are slipping into the sea. Even if everything is going wrong and nothing seems right.
Jesus said He will reveal Himself to those who love Him and obey His commands (John 14:21), so I must not only make sure to do so, but believe He will reveal Himself to me. Looking at faith this way, I understand I can find rest in God’s presence by knowing Jesus and having faith He will do what He says—regardless of whatever else is happening.
In the midst of our chaotic lives, and in this chaotic world, and in these chaotic times, God is present.
What if, instead of giving in to the stress of busy and hectic lives, we sought to find God in the midst of the trouble we cause for ourselves? What if we rested in God’s promise to be with us in every moment and let it be enough to get us through the day?
Verse 10 of Psalm 46 says, “Cease striving and know that I am God....” Next to this verse I have written: Robyn, cease striving. CEASE. Stop. Rest. Know God. Stop. Rest. Now.