When Getting Some Rest is God’s Will for Us

 

Minding the ‘Rests’

J. R. Miller, 1899

 

“Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place—and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Some people think that rests in life—are wasted time. They suppose that every moment should have its work, its activity, its gain, its record of good done. There is a sense in which this is true. Time is made up of golden minutes—not one of which we should allow to be wasted! The Master said that for every idle word that men speak—they must give account. This can be no less true of idle minutes or hours. We are to be judged not only by the things we do—but by the things we leave undone. Neglect of a duty is a sin. To pass by one who needs cheer or help, not giving him what he needs, when it is in our power to minister to him—is to sin against him.

Very strong, therefore, is the pressure of obligation to fill every moment with faithful duty. No doubt there are rests that leave blanks in the records and thus become blemishes, marrings, and faults. There is a story of one who always carried seeds in his pocket and when he found a bare spot, planted some of them that the place might become beautiful. Just so, we should put into every fragment of time, some seed that will make the hour or minute a bearer of blessing to other lives. We cannot afford to let a moment go, unfilled.

But there are rests which add to the beauty and the completeness of every life; and there is no life which can be altogether complete without them.

It is indeed with life as with music. The rests on the staff in one sense are not part of the music. They call for no sweet notes. Yet they are as important in their place—as if they were notes to be struck or sung. It would spoil the harmony, if a careless player or singer were to disregard the rests and fill the spaces with notes of his own improvising. There are rests in life—which are quite as important in the melody of life, as any notes on the staff. To overlook them or to fill them up—is to mar the music. We should mind the rests.

It is not true that we are living worthily, only when we are doing something. God has strewn life with quiet resting places. ‘Night’ is one of them. Sleep is a divine ordinance—to miss it mars the music. The Sabbath is another of the rests on the staff which the great Master composer wrote in himself. “Six days you shall labor”—then comes the rest—the one no more positive a command than the other. To ignore this rest and crowd into its sacred space the sounds of labor—is not only to break a divine commandment, but is also to introduce discords into God’s music. It takes the Sabbath quiet to complete the melody of the week. “Sunday,” says Longfellow “is like a stile between the fields of toil, where we can kneel and pray, or sit and meditate.”

There are other periods in every life in which rests are written. There is a time to work—and a time to rest. God never intended that we shall fill the days so full of toil, as not to leave any time for fellowships of home life, for interaction with friends, for pleasure and amusement. There is no true music in that living under incessant pressure which hurries on from duty to duty, from task to task, allowing not a moment of leisure, not a restful heart beat, from morning until night. Far sweeter and more beautiful—is the life that goes from task to task promptly, but never hurriedly. “Unhasting yet unresting,” is one of the wisest of life’s mottoes. No time should be wasted, and yet there never should be any hurrying.

No other life accomplishes in the end—so much as one that goes on with rhythmic movement, never loitering, never lagging—yet never in nervous haste. Hurry mars work of any kind. Music is spoiled as much by too great rapidity—as by indolent dragging. An old Bible teaching says, “In quietness and in confidence, shall be your strength.” Paul, the most vigorous of the New Testament writers, exhorts his young friend to study to be quiet, or as it is in the stronger phrase of a revised version, to “be ambitious to be quiet.” It was not idleness that Paul was urging upon Timothy—but the observance of the proper rests in life.

We have need of patience. We should learn to wait—as well as labor; to listen—as well as speak; to rest—as well as toil. There are moments and hours in life—when the supreme duty is to do nothing, to stand quiet and patient, waiting trustfully for God to work, or for the time to come when we can act. Immeasurable harm has been done ofttimes by impatience which could not stand and wait.

In all our life we need to cultivate a restful spirit. No duty is enjoined in the Scriptures more frequently, than the duty of peace. Worry is one of the things that are not worth while—it never brings any good; it never adds to the happiness; it never blesses. Worry must be left out of the ideal Christian life. Worry rushes on unquietly, and does not mind the rests. Peace, on the other hand, is an essential element in all beautiful, strong, and happy life. Peace carefully observes all the rests, and produces perfect music. It knows how to be quiet and still—as well as how to speak or sing.

Sometimes we are compelled to take rests in our busy life, even when we have no thought of doing so. We are in the midst of a rapid movement, hurrying on with great eagerness, when suddenly we find a rest written on the staff—and we must pause in our music. One of the most suggestive words in the Shepherd Psalm is the phrase, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.” Sometimes God has to make us lie down, for if he did not—we would never pause for a moment! We really need these rests to make the music full and rich—and God can get them into our hurried life in no way—but by compelling us to take them.

Nature teaches us the necessity for periods of inactivity. Winter arrests the growth of trees. The long months when there are no leaves and no fruits, seem to be lost. But we know that winter is no mistake, and that the time is not lost or wasted when the tree is resting. It is only gathering the forces for next year’s growth and fruitage. Every life, too, has its winters, when everything seems to stop; but there is no loss in the quiet waiting.

If only we understood this—we would see that the rests which God writes into the bars of our life are necessary to make the music perfect. We think we have lost time when we have been sick for a season. No! the passive duty of the sick days, when we were shut away from the hurrying world; the duty of being quiet and patient and trustful—was quite as sacred and important as were the urgent duties of the days of health.

“How does the musician read the rest? See him beat the time unerring count and catch up the next note, as true and steady as if no breaking place had come between. Not without design, does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the rests. They are not to be slurred over, are not to be omitted, and are neither to destroy the melody nor to change the key-note. If we look up, God himself will beat the time for us.” It is not ours to write the score; it is ours only to sing or play it—as God has written it. We have no right to change a note or a point, to insert a rest or to omit one. We must play it as it is given to us.

When in our life we come to rests which are written for us into the great Composer’s score—we should consider them just as much part of the music, as are the notes in the other bars. We need not complain of loss of time in illness, in forced leisure, in frustrated efforts—nor fret that our voice had to be silent, our part missing in the music. There was no real loss in these breaks or pauses. We do our duty best, by not trying to do anything—when God bids us to lie still. We need not fret that we cannot be active for God—when clearly God does not want us to be active.

The truest life is the one that takes the music as God writes it—without question, believing in his love and his wisdom, sure that he is right.

May we halt our hurried life this Lord’s Day and consider the much needed rest God wants us to enter in.

Becky

Being Christians on Weekdays -Something to Think About on the Lord’s Day-

 

Being Christians on Weekdays

J. R. Miller, 1888

How to carry our religion into all parts of our life, is the question which perplexes many of us. It is not hard to be good on the quiet Sundays, when all the holy influences of the sanctuary and of the Christian home are about us. It is not hard, in such an atmosphere, to think of God, and to yield ourselves to the impact of the divine Spirit. It is easy then to accept the promises and allow them to entwine themselves about our weakness, like a mother’s arms about feeble infancy. Most of us have little trouble with doubts and fears, or with temptations and trials, while sitting in the peaceful retreats into which the Sunday leads us.

Our trouble is in carrying this sweet, holy, restful life—out into the weekday world of toil, anxiety, strife and pain. Ofttimes with Monday morning—we lose all the Sunday calm, and resume again the old experience of restless distraction. The restraints of godliness lose their power, and the enthusiasm for holy living, so strong yesterday, dies out in the midst of the world’s chilling influences, and we drop back into the old bad habits, and creep along again in the old dusty ways.

The Sunday has lifted us up for a day—but has no power to hold us up in sustained elevation of soul. The duties we saw so clearly, and so firmly determined to do, while sitting in the sanctuary, we do not feel pressing upon us today with half the urgency of yesterday. Our high resolves and our excellent intentions have proved only like the morning cloud and the early dew. So our religion becomes a sort of luxury to us—a bright unreal dream only which for one day in seven, breaks into the worldliness and the self-seeking of our humdrum lives, giving us a period of elevation—but no permanent uplifting.

It is only as when one climbs up out of a valley into the pure air of a mountaintop for one hour, and then creeps down again and toils on as before, amid the mists and in the deep shadows—but carrying none of the mountain’s inspiration or of the mountain’s splendor with him back into the valley.

Yet such a life has missed altogether, the meaning of the religion of Christ—which is not designed to furnish merely a system of Sunday oases across the desert of life, with nothing between but sand and glare. Both its precepts and its blessings—are for all the days. He who worships God only on Sundays, and then ignores him or disobeys him on weekdays—really has no true religion. We are perpetually in danger of bisecting our life, calling one portion of it religious and the other secular. Young people, when they enter the church, are earnestly urged to Christian duty, and the impression made upon them is that Christian duty means reading the Bible and praying every day, attending upon the public means of grace, taking active part in some of the associations, missionary or charitable, which belong to the Church, and in private and personal ways striving to bring others to Christ.

Now, as important as these things are, they are by no means all the religious duties of any young Christian, and it is most fallacious teaching that emphasizes them as though they were all.

Religion recognizes no bisecting into sacred and secular. “Whether therefore you eat, or drink—or whatever you do—do all to the glory of God.” It is just as much a part of Christian duty—to do one’s weekday work well—as it is to pray well. “I must be about my Father’s business,” said Jesus in the dawn of youth; and what do we find him doing after this recognition of his duty? Not preaching nor teaching—but taking up the common duties of common life and putting all his soul into them! He found the Father’s business in his earthly home, in being a dutiful child subject to his parents, in being a diligent pupil in the village school, and later in being a conscientious carpenter. He did not find religion too spiritual, too transcendental, for weekdays. His devotion to God—did not take him out of his natural human relationships into any realm of mere sentiment; it only made him all the more loyal to the duties of his place in life.

We ought to learn the lesson. True religion is intensely practical. Only so far as it dominates one’s life—is it real. We must get the commandments down from the Sinaitic glory amid which they were first engraved on stone by the finger of God—and give them a place in the hard, dusty paths of earthly toil and struggle. We must get them off the tables of stone—and have them written on the walls of our own hearts! We must bring the Golden Rule down from its bright setting in the teaching of our Lord—and get it wrought into our daily, actual life.

We say in creed, confession and prayer—that we love God; and he tells us, if we do—to show it by loving our fellow-men, since professed love to God which is not thus manifested, is not love at all. We talk about our consecration; if there is anything genuine in consecration, it bends our wills to God’s, it leads us to loyalty that costs, it draws our lives to lowly ministry.

“One secret act of self-denial,” says a thoughtful writer, “one sacrifice of selfish inclination to duty—is worth all the mere good thoughts, warm feelings, passionate prayers, in which idle people indulge themselves.”

We are too apt to imagine, that holiness consists in mere good feeling toward God. It does not! It consists in obedience in heart and life to the divine requirements. To be holy is, first, to be set apart for God and devoted to God’s service: “The Lord has set apart him who is godly for himself.” But if we are set apart for God in this sense, it necessarily follows that we must live for God. We belong wholly to him, and any use of our life in any other service—is sacrilege, as if one would rob the very altar of its smoking sacrifice to gratify one’s common hunger. Our hands are God’s—and can fitly be used only in doing his work; our feet are God’s—and may be employed only in walking in his ways and running his errands; our lips are God’s—and should speak words only that honor him and bless others; our hearts are God’s—and must not be profaned by thoughts and affections that are not pure.

True holiness is no vague sentiment—it is intensely practical. It is nothing less than the bringing of every thought and feeling and act—into obedience to Christ! We are quite in danger of leaving out the element of obedience, in our conception of Christian living. If we do this, our religion loses its strength and grandeur—and becomes weak, nerveless and forceless. As one has said, “Let us be careful how we cull from the gospel such portions as are congenial, forge God’s signature to the excerpt, and apply the fiction as a delusive drug to our violated consciences. The beauties and graces of the gospel are all flung upon a background of requirements as inflexible as Sinai, and the granite. Christ built even his glory, out of obedience.”

Now, it is the weekday life, under the stress and the strain of temptation; far more than the Sunday life, beneath the gentle warmth of its favoring conditions—which really puts our religion to the test and shows what power there is in it. Not how well we sing and pray, nor how devoutly we worship on Sunday—but how well we live, how loyally we obey the commandments, how faithfully we attend to all our duties, on the other days—tell what manner of Christians we really are.

Nor can we be faithful toward God and ignore our human relationships. “It is impossible,” says one, “for us to live in fellowship with God—without holiness in all the duties of life. These things act and react on each other. Without a diligent and faithful obedience to the calls and claims of others upon us—our religious profession is simply dead! We cannot go from strife, breaches and angry words—to God. Selfishness, an imperious will, lack of sympathy with the sufferings and sorrows of other men, neglect of charitable offices, suspicions, hard censures of those with whom our lot is cast—will miserably darken our own hearts, and hide the face of God from us.”

The one word which defines and describes all relative duties is the word LOVE. Many people understand religion to include honesty, truthfulness, justice, purity—but do not think of it as including just as peremptorily: unselfishness, thoughtfulness, kindness, patience, good temper and courtesy. We are commanded to put away lying—but in the same paragraph, and with equal urgency, we are enjoined to let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil-speaking be put away, and to be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another. The law of love in all its most delicate shades of application— to attitude, word, act and manner—is the law of all true Christian living.

Thus the religion of the Sunday, like a precious perfume, must pervade all the days of the week. Its spirit of holiness and reverence, must flow down into all the paths of every-day life. Its voices of hope and joy, must become inspirations in all our cares and toils. Its exhortations, must be the guide of hand and foot and finger, in the midst of all trial and temptation. Its words of comfort,, must be as lamps to burn and shine in sick-rooms and in the chambers of sorrow. Its visions of spiritual beauty, must be translated into reality in conduct and character.

So, in all our life, the Sunday’s lessons—must be lived out during the week! The patterns of heavenly things shown in the mount—must be wrought into forms of reality and act and disposition and character. The love of God which so warms our hearts as we think of it—must flow out in love to men. We must be Christians on Monday—as well as on the Sunday. Our religion must touch every part of our life—and transform it all into the beauty of holiness.

I pray I will not forget, not even for a moment, that I am living in the Sacred, under the Shadow of the Almighty,

Have a most blessed Lord’s Day!

Becky

Lessons from the Furnace – Prayer-

This past week has been the most difficult season in my life; as you know our good, wise and sovereign God had very different plans that those we had for my precious niece, Erica Faith who died in labor with apparently no reason.

My friend Elizabeth has said it well,

“God needs no editor: the Author of Life has penned the preface, acknowledgments, introduction, setting, theme, characters, suspense, conflict, tragedies, triumphs, plot twists, and conflict resolution on first draft.”

We have cried with our face to the ground, and in the midst of our tears and sobbing, we have quietly learned many things.

One of the many things I have learned, is how valuable it is the prayer of the saints. How comforting it is to know that saints are interceding for you when you are walking through the Valley of Death; when Dragons spout fire against you, and the Shadows of Darkness seem to be all around you.

I have cried, and thank God for each one of you, who have stand with us through this hard providence. Thank you with my whole heart.

But I have also asked the Lord forgiveness because so many times I have not stood in the gap with my fellow brothers and sisters who are walking through difficulties until they are able to see the light. Many times they have asked me to pray for them and I have certainly done so, three, four, maybe even more than five times… but then I move on. Now I see, that one or two hours of prayer are not enough; that when a sister asks you to keep her in your prayers, is because she needs a fellow Christian who is willing to help her carry the burden. O how we need to live a life of prayer! This is also part of what it means to live in the Sacred. We must live seeking God’s face all day long, interceding with fervor for all the saints who are going through trials. The Valley of Death is dreadful indeed, and the prayers of the saints make it smoother.

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”  Ephesians 6:18 ESV

James Smith said,

“A real Christian has sympathy with all true believers. They are taken up into his heart, and are included in his prayers. For them he praises God, and for them he pleads with God. As one with Christ, he is one with them. As interested in Christ, he feels interested in them. They may be poor and needy, they may be oppressed and despised, they may be weak and feeble—but they excite his admiration, and draw forth his love.”

I pray that God will make me a woman who intercedes for others with perseverance. That I won’t fall asleep while others are crying in a sleepless night.

Samuel once said these words that have been in my heart these days,

“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you…” I Samuel 12: 23 (read the context here)

and J.R. Miller says concerning this verse,

“Perhaps we are not accustomed to think of praying for others in just this way, as a duty, the omission of which is a sin against God. We think of it as a privilege—but scarcely as a part of love’s solemn duty. We are in danger of narrowing our prayers to ourselves and our own wants. We think of our own sorrows and trials, our own duties, our own work, our own spiritual growth, and too often do not look out of the window upon our friend’s rough path or sore struggle. But selfishness in praying is one of the worst forms of selfishness. If ever love reaches its best and purest, it ought to be when we are standing before God.”

and if I want you to call me your friend, I must remember that,

“Friendship without prayer lacks a vital quality. There is no other duty of friendship which rests upon us with deeper obligation, than this of intercession. We know that we sin both against God and against our friend, when we cease to show him kindness in word and deed. No kindnesses shown in act are so important and so essential a part of friendship, as prayer for our friend.” J.R. Miller

Under His sun and by His grace, longing that He will find me persevering in prayer,

Becky

>The Christian Wife, by J.R. Miller

>This month we have been talking about marriage; so I think it is important to consider what are some characteristics of the Christian wife that we should not forget; and because it is Thursday of Borrowed Words, we’ll read J.R. Miller’s words on this topic. (I know it’s long, but please, don’t skim read it; take the time to read and carefully consider these words.)

Ball Point Drawing by Andrea Joseph

“It is a high honor for a woman to be chosen from among all womankind, to be the wife of a godly and true man. She is lifted up to be a crowned queen. Her husband’s manly love laid at her feet, exalts her to the throne of his life. Great power is placed in her hands. Sacred destinies are reposed in her keeping. Will she wear her crown beneficently? Will she fill her realm with beauty and with blessing? Or will she fail in her holy trust? Only her married life can be the answer.”

“What is the true ideal of a godly wife? It is not something lifted above the common experiences of life, not an ethereal angel feeding on ambrosia and moving in the realms of imagination… The true wife needs to be no mere poet’s dream, no artist’s picture, no ethereal lady too fine for use—but a woman healthful, strong, practical, industrious, with a hand for life’s common duties, yet crowned with that beauty which a high and noble purpose gives to a soul.”

J.R. Miller goes on to list several characteristics of a godly wife:

1. Faithfulness.

“A true wife, by her character and by her conduct, proves herself worthy of her husband’s trust. He has confidence in her affection; he knows that her heart is unalterably true to him. He has confidence in her management; he confides to her the care of his household. He knows that she is true to all his interests, that she is prudent and wise, not wasteful nor extravagant… Every true wife makes her husband’s interests her own…When burdens press upon him—she tries to lighten them by sympathy, by cheer, by the inspiration of love. She enters with zest and enthusiasm into all his plans. She is never a weight to drag him down; she is strength in his heart to help him ever to do nobler and better things.”

2. Housekeeper.

“Love may build its palace of noble sentiments and tender affections and sweet romances—rising into the very clouds, and in this splendid home two souls may dwell in the enjoyment of the highest possibilities of wedded life; but this palace, too, must stand on the ground, with unpoetic and unsentimental stones for its foundation. That foundation is good housekeeping. In other words, good breakfasts, dinners and suppers, a well-kept house, order, system, promptness, punctuality, good cheer—far more than any young lovers dream—does happiness in married life depend upon such commonplace things as these!

Bad housekeeping will soon drive the last vestige of romance out of any home! The illusion which love weaves about an idolized bride, will soon vanish if she proves lazy or incompetent in her domestic management. The wife who will keep the charm of early love unbroken through the years, and in whose home the dreams of the wedding day will come true—must be a good housekeeper!”

Andrea Joseph’s Illustration with Coloured Pencils

3.Generous and Warm Hearted.

“{I}t is in the dark hours of a man’s life, when burdens press, when sorrows weigh like mountains upon his soul, when adversities have left him crushed and broken, or when he is in the midst of fierce struggles which try the strength of every fiber of his manhood—that all the radiance and glory of a true wife’s strengthful love shine out before his eyes! Only then does he recognize in her—God’s angel of mercy!

In sickness—how thoughtful, how skillful, how gentle a nurse is the true wife! In struggle with temptation or adversity or difficulty—what an inspirer she is! In misfortune or disaster—what lofty heroism does she exhibit and what courage does her bravery kindle in her husband’s heart! Instead of being crushed by the unexpected loss, she only then rises to her full grandeur of soul. Instead of weeping, repining and despairing, and thus adding tenfold to the burden of the misfortune—she cheerfully accepts the changed circumstances and becomes a minister of hope and strength. She turns away from luxury and ease—to the plainer home, the simpler life, the humbler surroundings, without a murmur!”

4. Prudent.

“Are there little frictions or grievances in the wedded life? Has her husband faults which annoy her or cause her pain? Does he fail in this duty or that? Do differences arise which threaten the peace of the home? I
n the feeling of disappointment and pain, smarting under a sense of injury—a wife may be strongly tempted to seek sympathy by telling her trials to some intimate friends. Nothing could be more fatal to her own truest interests, and to the hope of restored happiness and peace in her home. Grievances complained of outside—remain unhealed sores. The wise wife will share her secret of unhappiness with none but her Master, while she strives in every way that patient love can suggest—to remove the causes of discord or trouble.”

5. She Will Look Well to her Personal Appearance

“No woman can be careless in her dress, slovenly and untidy—and long keep her place on the throne of her husband’s life. She will look well to her inner life. She must have mental attractiveness. She will seek to be clothed in spiritual beauty. Her husband must see in her ever-new loveliness, as the years move on. As the charms of physical beauty may fade in the toils and vicissitudes of life, there must be more and more beauty of soul to shine out to replace the attractions which are lost. It has been said that “the wife should always leave something to be revealed only to her husband, some modest charm, some secret grace, reserved solely for his delight and inspiration, like those flowers which give of their sweetness only to the hand which lovingly gathers them.” She should always care more to please him—than any other person in the world. She should prize more highly a compliment from his lips—than from any other human lips.

6. She is a Woman of Character.

“She can be a good wife only by being a good woman. And she can be a good woman in the true sense only by being a Christian woman. Nowhere but in Christ—can she find the wisdom and strength she needs, to meet the solemn responsibilities of wifehood. Only in Christ can she find that rich beauty of soul, that gemming of the character, which shall make her lovely in her husband’s sight, when the bloom of youth is gone, when the brilliance has faded out of her eyes, and the roses have fled from her cheeks. Only Christ can teach her how to live so as to be blessed, and be a blessing in her married life!
“Human love is very precious—but it is not enough to satisfy a heart. There will be trials, there will be perplexities, there will be crosses and disappointments, there will be solicitudes and sorrows. Then none but Christ will be sufficient! Without him, the way will be dreary. But with his benediction and presence—the flowers which droop today will bloom fresh again tomorrow! And the dreams of early love will build themselves up into a palace of peace and joy for the solace, the comfort and shelter of old age!”