Last night was pumpkin carving night. Well, that was the plan. Despite our requests, warnings, and threats, our kids couldn't get their acts together long enough to hold a conversation, listen to a story, or even pray. The annoyed look on my 9 year-old's face when I asked her to pray from someone (anyone) was the last straw. My husband closed out our prayer and I mouthed the words across the table, "We're done". He nodded, and announced that supper was now done. Everyone was to clear their dishes and find something to do. Pumpkin carving night was officially postponed.
The older two kids were bummed, but not surprised. They knew they blew it. But the kindergartner? She lost it. Full blown weeping and gnashing of teeth. No doubt she would have clothed herself in sackcloth and ashes had she the knowledge to do so. As she wailed bitterly and I repeated the daily question, "Has this crying routine ever worked for you," Scott remarked to our princess, "Honey, you don't have a leg to stand on".
This was too much. She went nuclear. Her voice growled, "WHAT?! That's NOT TRUE! What?! You think I CAN'T WALK? You think I'm an OLD LADY?!?!?!"
And we laughed. She didn't, of course. I try to make it a point not to laugh at my children's misery and anger unless absolutely necessary. After all, they should learn to be able to laugh at themselves. This was no learning moment. The tension had to break, and our sweetie had inadvertently crushed it soundly. I wish I could say she saw the humor, but she was too outraged. That was okay though, because the parents saw it and lightened up.
That is a glimpse of what limits look like at our house. And the repercussions of pushing each other past them.
I admit, I keep pushing my own limits. I suck at this resting business. I am learning, slowly (very slowly), that I don't have to chase the distractions; that my limitations are a gift, not a burden.
Part of me wants to push past my limits. Often times that part wins out. Andy Stanley asserts that the driving force behind that is fear. That if he was to ask us why we do so much, we would likely begin our answer with, "Because I'm afraid if I don't..."
Rest then is radical. It whispers I have limits. It pries my hands open and forces me to offer up the control I keep trying to grasp. It abolishes fear. It is why the Sabbath was, and is, so vital for God's people. It acknowledges that we are reliant on the power, provision, and love of God.
Satan tempts us in our gardens with the lie that we can be "like God". Limitless. In control.
In another garden, Jesus Christ, gave us another option. Submission. We think Christ came to die, but He came for more than that. He came to do the will of the Father. That involved more than His unspeakably horrible crucifixion. It even involved more than His resurrection. It meant His life. His ministry. His rest. It meant all that is still to come.
His rest. His limitations. Isn't that one of the most beautiful truths of the Gospel? He was a real man. (Phil 2:5-8) He could have said, "But if I rest, then I won't get to heal these people... I won't be able to teach this truth," but Christ submitted. He trusted that God the Father knew best. Jesus knew that while He was true God, He was also true man. And that meant He physically. emotionally, spiritually needed to take time to be restored.
We watch eagerly how Christ helped the poor, taught the Word, shared the Gospel, loved the children, and we think, "Yes, I want to do what Christ did!" The times Christ rested are easier to gloss over. They are more mundane. Anyone can do that.
Let me tell you, rest is work. If you've had to do it, then you get what I mean. Rest is a big deal. Anyone can do it- almost no one does. What does that tell you? It is simple and complex. Theoretically easy, practically difficult. Spiritually essential.
Maybe you can't rest from everything. It can be a daunting proposition. In that case, maybe today we just need to look at one thing and say, "I'm going to rest from ______ for a certain amount of time." You can do this. We can do it. And if my permission isn't enough, just look to Jesus and the times He rested and when you get to heaven and He asks you why the laundry didn't make it into the drawers you can just let Him know you were just following in His footsteps. Wait a minute...
Then pray something like this, "Father, Jesus submitted to you and rested. Grant me the same humble and courageous spirit to submit and find my rest in You." Let's pray this for each other, ok?
* And if you are looking for a morning Sabbath, "exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world" with Proverbs 31's new app, first5. It wakes you up in the Word. All lovely and refreshing. I highly recommend it.