God will provide…rest, joy and the occasional sheep

I went on a hike yesterday. That’s nothing new if you know me. I love to hike. I think it’s the fact that I’m in nature, feeling so small and yet able to partake in it. To breathe, to feel my muscles firing, to tread new paths, all of this makes me feel alive. Even though hiking propels me forward, it’s a rest for my soul, a sabbath in the middle of normalcy and the everyday grind.

As I hiked yesterday, I prayed. Again, nothing new for me. If I’m alone, I’m typically talking to God-at least for a portion of my hikes. I have recently been convicted to pray specific prayers, bigger prayers. Bigger than the “bless us and keep us” prayers, those are ok but my heart keeps telling me God is bigger.

I have prayed so much about this transition to Colorado and this time, I really genuinely asked God a question. “What do you want from me?” As I kept walking, I kept asking, talking, and honestly, pleading. “I need answers God,” I set the ultimatum before Him. “Show me what I’m supposed to do.” “Rest.” He seemed to answer with one word.

I’ve heard this from God before but never so clearly. Deep in my spirit, He spoke rest over me. My mind started spinning with the what if’s and am I not supposed to’s….and immediately it was like God said, “Stop. Stop doing, trying and trying to be. I need you to LEARN to rest.”

So here I am LEARNING to rest, so much different than resting. Like a good father, God knows what I need. I have spent almost 42 years spinning, doing, and trying to be, although I have always known I didn’t have to.

Flashes of moments in time in every age and stage of life have come to me. Pushing, trying, changing, working, doing…it is all I have ever known. Yet, I’ve always known so much more.

I’ve known the rest I can have in Jesus. I’ve heard about it a lot at least. It’s typical church lingo but I realize it needs to be real for me right now, forever really.

The night before this conversation I had with God on my hike, I had a very similar conversation with my son. I went into his room and found him on the phone at 9:15. Totally against rules so I took the phone away and asked why he was on it. He responded with, “I was bored.” I told him he was supposed to be bored because it was time to sleep, really child! But wait. Full stop right here.

God nudged me and reminded me that I am so much like my son. When it’s often time to rest, I’m looking for things to do. I’m looking for distractions. I am looking to so many other things than exactly what I need in that moment. Rest is good for us. It gives us time to slow down, take account of our lives, and process. It gives us the ability to move on and forward for whatever life has for us. It physically recharges us and renews our batteries.

No, I’m not saying I’ll never work again or I’ll just sit on my couch eating bonbons but I want to put this season of rest into a lifestyle practice. It may not be practical to hike daily or take long moments to talk with God but I believe rest is so essential. Rest comes in may forms.

Without rest, we are so drained and we are not good for anyone. God has put me in the season of life to support those around me. I realized however, my batteries were completely drained. Most likely drained from all of the change in the last two years. I’ve never been so emotionally and mentally fatigued in my life. But God… He is the lifter of my soul, the Restorer of all my mental fatigue and the Restorer of my joy.

I had asked God for a word over 2022. I know it’s the trendy thing to do but I always like to journal and write at the beginning of the year hoping that special word will jump out in my mind or God will just whisper something to my heart. He came through this year and he actually gave me two words. One word is Jireh which means “my God will provide/supply”, and the other word is joy. Put those two together and you have something pretty amazing: “My God will supply joy.”

So as the Lord whispers rest over my soul and over my heart and over my body during the season, I am praying that this rest becomes part of my spiritual practice, part of the rhythms of my life. The type of rest that people are drawn to, a peace that passes all understanding. And in this season of rest, in this lifestyle of rest, I pray that I will be able to see just how God supplies joy to my heart. Like a good father, He wants me to experience joy. He wants me to not only be happy, but to experience true joy that is a type of soul happiness. A type of contentment and peace and rest in your very soul that no one can take from you. Not one life circumstance that is thrown at you can take that type of joy and rest away from you.

By the way, on that hike, God gave me some joy. It was the sweetest gift. I wanted to see a big horn sheep on this hike. I had actually prayed to see one. (I know, maybe a silly prayer.) The area I was hiking in was pretty popular for viewing the sheep. However, by mile six I hadn’t seen any so I turned around to get back out of the canyon. Well, God supplied a little bit of joy for me. Sure enough there was a lone longhorn sheep walking right toward me. this brought me joy not because sheep necessarily bring me so much joy but it was because I prayed specifically and God answered such a specific prayer. It honestly just made me laugh. The sheep is not my joy but the Provider of that sheep is my joy.

God keeps showing me He wants to bring me joy; I just have to receive it. Things do not always turn out the way I think they should but my Jireh will always provide rest and joy for my soul.

It’s so funny. It’s like He’s telling me to rest as we would tell our little ones to get to bed early on Christmas Eve. He has such good gifts waiting on us but we need to rest in order to receive them.

Fred the Longhorn Sheep
The beauty deep inside the Waterton Canyon

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