I guess it is a writer’s privilege…. that is to veer off from the present discussion and take a brief look in a different direction. I was most reminded of this as the pastor at the church we have been attending gave a message on disappointment and what we might need to hear in moments of disappointment…. so I have put the discipleship thought on the shelf for a week… but don’t worry we will be getting back to it!! Thanks for staying with me!!
I was talking with a good friend recently and we got on the topic of heaven and what will we be doing when we get to heaven. If you are a praise song leader at church you probably have a ready answer, that we will be part of that massive choir that will be singing praises fulltime at His throne (or maybe while adrift on a cloud). I am not so sure of that, and in fact we couldn’t land on anything very conclusive. However, we did feel that God has revealed parts of that in His word and in His world, that He has created. One of those discoveries that I sense will be an ongoing thing as we go to our real home is that blessing of purpose that God has created each of us with. It is this purpose thing that I believe helped my wife and I in our process of leaving our last charge (that is my position) at the church that we had served at for 14 years. Now to our process and purpose in life these moments can really challenge us… even make us wonder at times if we had the purpose thing right. I also believe though that these moments can ultimately also help us with the move to whatever might be next in our life.
How does that fit in with this title rest or restless? (you may very well be asking right now) As my wife and I started the process of looking to be a part of another family of faith, the prayer that we prayed (and I believe God gave us)… was to help us find a place that needed us (and He absolutely answered that). Now, we had the temptation to ask for a place where we could just sit and lick our wounds and rest for a while, and as we stopped in and worshipped at different places that thought kept coming up to us. But yet we continued to pray that original prayer of finding us a home that needed us (now that needed us thing probably requires another post… but if I try to do that here… well let’s face it this will get too long).
In a sense I believe even though we didn’t really pray for a place to rest that it was truly a part of that prayer… and was answered as well. In the church I have wondered what is the criteria for making these transitions from one church home to another (it seems to be getting easier and more prevalent in our American churches to leave one and go to the one down the street). Why is it that leaving and joining other churches seems pretty easy for the most part?
I believe part of the answer is within understanding rest and restlessness in our souls as those who would follow Christ. You see, as so much of what He does in our life… it is counterintuitive. It seems that we find much more rest for our souls as we have Him working in and through our lives… and that fulfilling of His purpose for our life is happening. On the other side of that, I believe there is much restlessness in our souls as we sit and try to receive things like rest and refreshment for our souls by simply sitting and avoiding that purpose thing. Now I am not saying that this rest thing doesn’t include things like solitude and time spent alone with God (and in fact these things in many ways provide the grounding for how He wants to use us). For Cindy and I we have found rest for our souls in a small church that was actually doing a new thing in an old church building, a place where we were very quickly finding that old purpose thing as to how He wants to use us in the life of His church!!
As we now are in the process of moving to our new call to another church through my role on another church staff, we are looking at this time at this church as a wonderful respite. Even though it was full of activity and yes even chaotic at times as this church strived to take root in this area, build leadership , and it’s message in the community it is in… we have felt used by God. As my friend who I was talking about this with said it is God’s ownership on our life!! This ownership thing is a powerful and life-giving thing, and yes gives us rest and calms that restless soul. I wonder if that is something our churches are trying to truly give their people (who are the church), or are we giving what we were so tempted to reach for in our transition… that is the idea of rest (within that is another word that we have to be careful with and that is the word comfort… we can talk more about that!!). This all goes hand in hand with our restoration or recovery process (if you will) which is part of each of our journeys. Just as an addict finds that when they get off themselves and start giving back to others according to their story, so it goes for each of us in our recovery process as we find that wonderful thing called purpose. What will it be for our soul rest or restlessness??
You might want to explore this whole idea of soul a little more closely… and specifically in this area of understanding rest related to purpose (I believe in the book I am about to point you to the word purpose may be replaced with the idea of significance). The book is titled Soul Keeping and the author is John Ortberg. How have you receive rest in your life or maybe do you sense your soul is very restless… if so He is probably trying to get your attention. I pray you are able to hear Him through both the rest and restlessness of life!!