We’re a week into the new year. A week ago today many people had packed up their Christmas décor, along with their reflections of the previous year, embracing the annual “ready, set, go” as our new starting line when the clock strikes midnight. As far as decorations, there wasn’t much packing for me to participate in this year. The kids and my Mom tackled the task. I picked out non-physically demanding packaging, like the nativity scene. While trying to delicately fit each piece back into the Styrofoam containers, I thought about my goal for 2014. Of course, I’ll share it. But brace yourself. You may think I set the bar as low as possible.
2014 New Year’s Resolution: Be Less Productive.
We quote Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” But are we sensitive to the seasons the Lord is moving us into and out of? Certainly many of us would choose to return to a warmer season, perhaps a beautiful summer day over the bitter cold ones we are encountering at the moment. This is literal and figurative.
Our temperatures here in the grand state of Oklahoma aren’t the coldest in the nation; but are definitely low enough to qualify for mention. How many of us would love to hop on a plane to the Caribbean? But that’s not going to change the reality of the conditions where we live. And sometimes we have to endure where we are until the season changes. It is in the different seasons that we grow and mature. The season shakes things up. No monotony. No apathy. No complacency. Sometimes the bitter cold makes us more aware and more appreciative for the warmth of brighter days.
My 2014 New Year’s Resolution, or what I would consider to be my New Year’s CHALLENGE, had to do with a season the Lord was speaking to my heart…rest.
After years and years of setting lofty goals, I felt challenged to rest.
My husband and I married in 1999. We started building our home at the end of 2000. We welcomed our first child, Brooklyn in 2001. Brandon went back to school in 2002 after a hiatus for the house and new baby. Jaron made his debut in 2003 with our first, yet brief, NICU stay. All the while Brandon and I were working and he was going to school. 2005, I had six surgeries in five months, and then my Dad passed away. My Mom and I kept the wheel rolling until we sold the business. Caden arrived in 2006. Brandon received his congratulatory letter from OSU on the completion of his mechanical engineering degree and walked in the spring 2007 ceremony; only to find out he had been misadvised on a class and wouldn’t get his diploma until after taking the required class, which he did that summer. I started my pre-requisites for nursing school as soon as Brandon finished. We found out we were expecting again in 2008 and Gavin arrived in 2009 with our unwanted, but second short stay in NICU. In 2010 I started nursing school at OU, had a couple year whirlwind, graduated in 2012 and started working in the NICU. 2013 felt like our year of transitioning.
When I was evaluating my personal, spiritual, and intellectual growth for the new year, I felt the Lord speak to my heart…REST.
Matthew 11:28, Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Why do we discredit it? Why do we neglect it? Why do we not prioritize it? We feel we can’t turn down someone’s request for the mere fact we need rest. We think we have to be the ones to step up to head the project, because rest isn’t a real reason to decline it. We assume if we’re pursuing good things and meeting goals then we’re fine and don’t need to simply sit. We conclude if we’re home resting, then we’re doing nothing. When in all reality, it is something, and it’s something quite important. Even Jesus gave us an example to rest in Mark 6:31, “Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
We’ve all heard that sometimes we have to disconnect to reconnect. Over the year, each time I began to allow feelings of guilt to seep in, I’d remind myself that I was meeting a goal, rising to the challenge to be less productive. And was it ironic at all that while I was intending to have a year of rest, the Lord already knew I would? I had no idea at the time that I’d be working three surgeries into 2014. While it takes a lot of energy to heal, I had what He desired of me...to be still, to be in the quiet, and to rest.
When reflecting on the year, I see how my loving God orchestrated my season of rest. For 2015, I hear Him speaking to my heart, “It is time.” Over and over, I hear His precious, gentle, inaudible voice speak, “It is time.” 2015 is the time to start the beginnings of what He has prepared, for what He has set before, for what He has planned. And the only way I could have ever known this is by those quiet moments.
Taking a year of intentional rest helps me to realize how productive being unproductive can be. We don’t always have to have measurable outcomes. We don’t always have to have evidence of completed tasks. Sometimes the biggest benefit, the grandest gift, the priceless pieces cannot be seen with our eyes, scheduled on our calendars, or fabricated with our hands. They have to be received in our hearts, nurtured and grown without our meddling and without rush.
The time we take at New Year’s to self-examine is an opportunity to adjust, to tweak, to elevate who we are and who the Lord has called us to be. We get this one life to live. It’s not about what we do. It’s about what we need to be our best. Yes, it’s a New Year, but it’s the same life, the same life we had back in those warm summer months. It’s what we decide to do with this life that makes the resolution worth making.
Bless you as you set out to conquer the goals set before you. Bless you as you pursue the one who placed them there. Bless you as you use your life in this New Year for His glory.
*In case you’re being called to a season of rest and quietness, I pray these scriptures encourage your heart.
Psalm 91:1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.
1 Samuel 12:7 Now stand here quietly before the Lord as I remind you of all the great things the Lord has done for you and your ancestors.
Psalm 62:1 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.
Psalm 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
1 Timothy 2:2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
Joshua 1:13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.’
1 Kings 8:56 “Praise the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the wonderful promises he gave through his servant Moses.
Psalm 127:2 It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.
Isaiah 28:12 God has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they would not listen.
Isaiah 32:18 My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest.
Jeremiah 31:25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
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