Productive Rest

photo-1520809170356-cfbee41507c1Rest can be productive.

We don’t think of it as such. We tend to define productivity as getting something done, being able to see tangible results, or marking a task off our to do list.

But we can be restful while we are getting things done. We can be intentionally productive in rest.

Rest isn’t laziness. Rest involves relaxing, refreshing, and recovering.

After a particularly busy weekend day, I spent the following day in productive rest. I accomplished numerous things, but I did so with a restful mindset and pace. It was a day of recharge, a day to reset and refocus. It was energizing.

That’s what intentional, productive rest does most of the time.

God was intentional in his rest. He was intentional about instructing us to rest. And his way of rest is always productive, because it focuses on him and grows our relationship with him, because we trust God through it.

Whether for a day, an hour, or a few minutes, rest his way today.

A Loud Pop

photo-1533612878354-b7fe81ecfe48I plugged in the Crockpot and sat in the nearby living room to write. Thirty minutes passed, and I heard a loud pop as if something had broken or fallen. I didn’t suspect the Crockpot at first, but when I couldn’t find any other culprit, I looked around it and noticed the microwave, plugged into the same outlet, no longer had power. I unplugged the Crockpot, found the right switch in the electrical box, and reset the outlet.

I plugged the Crockpot into another outlet. It popped and threw the switch before I walked away. Repeat: unplug the Crockpot, flip the switch.

But no more testing. Safety ruled, and I immediately drove to the store to replace the Crockpot. I didn’t want to lose the meal I was preparing.

The Crockpot wasn’t my favorite. I really liked the carrying case that came with it, but I usually used a different Crockpot. But I had left it with my ex when I moved out. It was the one he was used to, and I knew he liked to make soup in it. I figured it was easier for me to get used to something new.

I stood in the aisle, looking at all the Crockpot options. I realized unless I wanted a digital display, which I didn’t, my choices were limited. Once I looked at the sizes, the options narrowed even further.

I ended up getting the same one I’d left behind. Why not? I liked it. I knew it fit in my carrying case. It was familiar.

The same, yet different.

That phrase describes a lot in my life nowadays.

Change is sometimes brought on by a loud, surprising pop. We don’t have access to what we once did. But we can adjust if we’re willing.

Paper Trail of People

photo-1527791002176-af61ee4ec40cA form didn’t get filed properly, so I (and others) have been working for nearly two months to correct the error. It seems like an easy fix, but apparently, it isn’t. It’s annoying, yet it isn’t.

I’ve met some people I might never have met otherwise.

We’ve called each other enough times, we’re at the “guess who” stage, and we usually guess correctly. While we might be annoyed with the situation, we don’t get annoyed with each other. We…are a “we.” We help each other, contact each other, encourage each other.

It seems like a game of chase the paper trail, but it is also an invitation to briefly share life with others.

Perhaps instead of getting easily annoyed with others who have roles in our frustrating situations, we can learn to appreciate them and invite them into “we.”

Love People

photo-1488449378484-be139af163d4There are many situations in which people are annoying, irritating, and exhausting.

Then there are times love for people is so overwhelming, it fills me to overflowing. I find myself appreciating people around me. Not just people I know, but the ones I briefly encounter through the day. On a recent lunch break, I looked around to intentionally notice as many people as I could. There was a woman with a toothless grin in the grocery store, laughing with two others in the midst of what seemed to be a potentially rough life. I stood behind the slow, grumpy guy I often encounter at the fountain machine at my favorite convenience store. His intentional routine made me smile.

I noticed sadness, hurrying, pensiveness, joy, and exhaustion. I noticed people needing help, people doing their jobs, people avoiding others.

I noticed people, and I loved them. I interacted with some but not everyone. I appreciated them and the fact that God crossed my path with theirs for a purpose that day.

Be patient today, and keep your eyes and ears attentive to people around you.

When I Want to Quit

photo-1536095615694-dfbad2da5d6aThere are times I want to quit.

I don’t.

I persevere. It’s a choice, and sometimes, it’s a difficult one.

I don’t persevere because I’m stubborn or especially faithful or unusually determined. I persevere because of who God is. I let him change me in the process.

He is tenacious. He is compassionate. He is forgiving.

I choose him. I choose his way. I choose his character.

Embrace

photo-1528834453660-4b21e1ef0bf2I listened to a message the other day that reminded me to not just endure hardships and challenges but to embrace them. Sometimes we want to avoid God when we have doubts or struggles, but in our wrestling with him, we remain close, intimate with him. When we embrace him, we are active participants. We choose to hang on, to remain close.

God doesn’t simply allow some things outside our comfort zone, he invites us into them. I’m not saying he causes all of them, but he can purpose through them, which is why he wants us to actively seek him through them. We’re not to face them on our own. We face them with him.

The bad stuff that happens in our lives isn’t due to a bad God. He is a good God even when life is not. In the midst of the mess of the world, he can work through us for our growth, for others’ faith journeys, and for his glory.

Embrace him today.

Aloud

photo-1522008660239-1bbdb39444c4I went into the Bible reading a bit disappointed and annoyed, but I walked away with a full soul.

Every year, the community where I live has a Bible reading marathon, when the entire Bible is read aloud on the steps of the courthouse. People sign up for 15 minute slots (or more), and once the reading begins, it continues through the day and night until the last word of the Bible is read aloud. Even though it’s done at the courthouse, it draws very little attention (or opposition). It’s just someone reading quietly with another person nearby to cover unfilled time slots.

For several years, I’ve taken a block of late Saturday night with friends. It began with each of us taking our own 15 minute slot. Then we began taking a 2-hour slot and filling it as we felt like taking turns. This year, I signed up for a 3-hour slot. I knew it was a long block, but I was confident God was prompting me.

Very few people were able to help with the increased time block, so it ended up being me and one friend. I received a text early in the day to let me know, because of the pending rain, we’d be reading in a church instead of outside at the courthouse. The same thing happened last year. I was disappointed. I believe one of the points of the Bible reading marathon is a public reading of Scripture. Retreating to a church isn’t public. I think, in general, Christians in America are a bit soft. We aren’t willing to get out of our comfort zones.

But I had made a commitment, and I knew reading Scripture would still have power.

When I arrived, I quickly recognized Leviticus being read, so I found where the previous reader was, followed along, and prepared to read. My friend wasn’t there yet, so I began the shift and read for about 45 minutes before passing the baton to her. She read about the same time, finishing Leviticus, and handing Numbers to me.

I know it may sound horrible to have to read Leviticus and Numbers aloud. There are a lot of laws, names, and numbers. But I settled into a sweet spot. No matter what the context, I find God’s Word to be alive and powerful. I savored the recognition of sections I rarely come across in everyday life but have read many times as I work through the Bible each year. Even some of the drab statements and accounts popped off the page to me as they passed through my mouth. Instead of growing tired as I read, I felt more full and more alive.

I reluctantly stopped near the end of Numbers a little after midnight, since the next readers were ready. I walked outside and breathed deeply. The air felt crisp, the sky seemed vast, and life felt purposeful.

God uprooted my disappointment and frustration and filled me. Reading aloud is nourishing and powerful.

Give it a try today.