I sat on the edge of the dock with my legs dangling off. My feet were flat upon the water as though I could step out on the lake at any moment. The space was calm. A slight breeze swayed the tree branches. The children found playmates with pebbles, mud castles, and fish freshly caught. I sat there cupped in God’s nature with my heart racing. I was unable to be as calm as the water. After three days of being at the lake, I still didn’t know how to rest. For some, rest comes easy; for me, it feels like work.
I am good at being productive. I am good at being busy. I like the pressure and clock ticking and deadlines. Those powers energize me. I like using my imagination and managing people. But being here, at the family lake house makes me antsy. There is no place to be, and I have nothing to do. I almost feel naked. I don’t know what to do when I have nothing to do. My body, mind, and soul need rest — I know this. But I fight rest with everything in me. Rest means wrestling with the deeper things I have been avoiding. When everything on the outside of me gets quiet, then everything on the inside of me gets loud. It’s unsettling, and I want to run out on the water where my feet might find ease; I want to run away from me.
I’ve taken the role of “fishing supervisor” this vacation, and the children repeatedly bring me their tangled fishing wire. This task requires focus, patience, and gentleness. While fishing with children there are three things you won’t find: focus, patience, and gentleness. I send them off while I give all my attention to the massive knot they have managed to whip together. I’m tempted to yank and pull and throw the whole bundle of chaos away. But I wait. I slowly tug and massage the tangles apart. An unraveling begins. It doesn’t happen all at once. It is a process. If I get frustrated, the knot gets worse. If I take my time and use careful intention, the knot loosens.
As I slowly pull at the corner of the wire, I wonder if this is what God is doing within me. He is using focus, patience, and gentleness to undo the knots that have built up in me. Maybe that’s what rest is about. I’m coming back to God with my mess, and He uses love to untangle me. This renewing of my soul requires that I also practice focus, patience, and gentleness. If I fight back, more damage is done. But if I stay and allow God to care for my soul, my insides will loosen. God, in a literal sense, is a fisher of (wo)men. He doesn’t just catch lost souls, but He has compassion upon them and wants them to be free — untangled. For my soul to become untangled, I have to stop. I have to exhale. I have to rest.
Resting doesn’t come easy for me. I have to work at rest. I have to be okay feeling antsy and anxious just sitting at the edge of the dock. I have to feel the mess I have been avoiding. I have to look at the chaos and tangles and knots choking my chest tight. I have to let the outside beauty penetrate my inner storm. And God does this. He does this by gently untangling me one tug at a time. This time, instead of running, being busy, or avoiding, I stay. I let God do His work on my soul.
I want a lot of things in life, but one thing I desperately want is to be free inside. I don’t want hooks and wires mangled up inside of me, making it hard to breathe. I want to be fully present with the world, others, and God. The only way to be productive at anything is to learn how to rest — truly rest. At first, it might be painful. I’ll want to squirm and find something else to do. But when I give God space to tend to my soul, a beautiful freedom awaits me.
I need God’s help to rest. I need His grace to hold me as effortlessly as that dock. I am rocked and carried. God’s presence hovers over me like the trees bringing me shade. I need grace to not accomplish something. I need grace to let the tugging make me uncomfortable. I need grace to sustain me when rest feels like work. The truth is, rest is work because God is doing healing work inside of me. He is untangling and setting me free.Leave a Comment
Ruth Mills says
I love both the picture of the serenity of the lake & it’s surroundings and God gently, patiently untangling my mess as being restful. Thank you for sharing your skills of writing to encourage!
Wow!! No words for how this touched my soul! Thank you
Kristin Palmer says
I can totally relate! Rest definitely does not come easy for me either and it often feels like work. When we fully embrace rest and allow our minds and bodies to be still in the Lord’s presence He meets us there and fills us with His peace and joy. This was exactly the reminder I needed today. Thank you for sharing your heart and for encouraging mine.
Rest is hard. With kids, I feel like even rest is work and while I love silence, it is hard to find. Plus, most things that can be fun and restful can also be dangerous for littles. Thank you for your contemplations and sharing your journey. I understand.
This is beautiful, Anjuli!
Brenda M. Russell says
Oh, Hallelujah, thank the Lord !
This is describing how I have felt so many times in my marriage. I have been married 41 years. Wow, I can hardly believe it myself. Sometimes I feel like I lost part of myself somewhere along the Journey. This is where God comes in through another Sister in Christ to start a healing process inside of me. Why does it take so many years to get a definitive diagnosis?
First of all, the Calendar was invented for us humans. God does not need a time schedule. He has been teaching me many things over the years; how to learn to forgive, how to be an attentive daughter to my Mother (I am her only Child), how to learn to listen to my children, how to have a sweet relationship with my Sisters and Brothers in Christ, how to avoid gossip, how to be quick to listen and slow to speak and how to ask God for His insight on Everything that involves me and my family, and how to avoid quick judgment, and how to stand for what is Christlike without being against an unbeliever. I guess that’s why it takes so long to get a diagnosis. I am still a “student” in Discipleship.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are in process, all of us. Before we can accept change, we have to go to school. Knowledge is valuable, Wisdom teaches us how and when to apply the knowledge. God sees us as Finished Saints, He can see the end from the beginning. We have to walk in our Calling, turns and delays can be part of the Journey. Soldier on in Jesus name. Put on your armor every day and every night. Be strong and courageous, it is the Lord our God who goes with us, He will never leave or forsake us. We are His Beloved Children.
Thank You Lord for teaching me to rest from the inside out and from the world I made for myself.
This is beautiful. Thank you Anjuli! and Brenda!
Just what I needed to read before bed. Thank you Brenda.
Carol Brown says
I can so relate
Kerry MacPherson says
Thank you for this post Anjuli. I am exactly like you. I am not good at resting, but I am very good at getting lots of work done. Most people I know tend to turn to TV or social media. Thanks for the reminder that I need to spend more time with God, and be patience with myself, so God can help me untangle the mess in my heart and mind. (-: Kerry
Beth Williams says
Society tells us to be productive. Keep on doing & achieving. God knows our souls need to be refilled & renewed. He calls us to rest in Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Lysa Terkeurst put it this way in her book Your Best Yes “Saying yes to everyone & everything won’t make you wonder woman. It will make you a worn out woman with nothing left to give to anyone.” It can seem hard to just sit & be still with God. We must do it in order to have some peace in our lives. The lake or beach is a perfect place to just take in the scenery & allow God to do His work in you-refilling your weary empty soul. Let’s try to put a little white space in our lives & allow God to do His work in us.
This was so good. Rest is the hardest thing to do for me too. Learning to lean into God during these times.
Beautiful word picture of God’s soul work in his children. Thank you
I love this!
Erin Peet says
Love this! Thank you!