The “One Thing” I Need

This may not make sense to you at all.  I’m not sure that it does to me yet.  All I know is that I can’t sleep tonight until it’s written down.  So here I sit, typing at 1 a.m. Do you ever have difficulty achieving rest?  That sounds funny, I guess.  Is rest something we have to “achieve”?  Doesn’t it just happen when we need it to happen? All I know is that I’ve not rested, really rested, deep within my soul, in such a long time.  I mean, I need rest, but it doesn’t seem to “just happen” for me.  And I’ve “tried” to rest.  I really do try to find rest, but the harder I try to find it, the more elusive it becomes. It’s not so much the “shut-eye” that I need.  You see, I left my job back in May, for several reasons, and I won’t go into all of them in this post (too boring, or maybe too controversial…we can tackle all that another time!).  But anyway, suffice it to say that I have had plenty of opportunity to “get shut-eye” since then.  I am a true night owl, staying up late into the wee hours of the night, reading, writing, planning, creating, cooking, cleaning, and just generally being a busy bee (yes, midnight is my most industrious time of the day).  I was born this way.  My earliest memories include sitting up watching Johnny Carson and Dean Martin with my dad.  We are a family of night owls.  It must be genetic. And even though I may have to get up early to get the kids off to school, and get a few things done in the morning, most mornings I can find an hour or so to roll back under the covers and get my shut-eye in.  And that’s my favorite time to do so – something about the coolness of the sheets, and the smell of the morning, and the safety I feel after the darkness has given way to light…  Yes, I do my best sleeping in those cozy morning hours when the rest of the world is rolling headfirst into their day, mainlining caffeine.  I don’t do caffeine.  And I’ve really just told you much more about me than you ever needed to know.  But that’s what blogs are for, right? So, really, my body is not craving sleep.  Truthfully?  It’s my soul craving rest.  And it’s not happening. Shutting off my mind is almost impossible.  I am constantly taking things in from all around me, processing them through my crazy mind, formulating it all into some wacky new thought structure, and then getting it all out again – usually by writing it on paper or typing it into my laptop, sometimes by posting it in a blog or on a Facebook status (though those are very controlled outbursts, believe it or not), and sometimes by just blathering it all out to my very patient and non-judgmental husband, a man who’s learned how to communicate with me (i.e., listen and nod…) in the 28 years we’ve been together. The problem with all of this uncontrollable mental and verbal and written stimulation is that it often leaves me completely frustrated…frustrated that I’ve just been thinking and processing and talking and writing and re-thinking, and re-processing, and re-writing so much that I am not achieving much of anything at all. And that leaves me restless, deep within my soul. Because I am, by nature, also an achiever.  I love the feeling of solving something, accomplishing something amazing, taking on a project and “fixing” it!  I absolutely get my jollies by solving problems of every sort, and for everybody, whether they want me to or not. And you see…that’s what I’ve been wanting to do SO MUCH lately, especially since I left my official “job”…I’ve been wanting to solve problems and do some really big deal stuff for someone.  And that someone is Someone who doesn’t really need me to:  God. I’ve been willing to put my whole self into it, too!  I mean, one of the main reasons I left my job was because I wanted to dedicate my life more to Him, in ministry and service in some way.  I wanted to rededicate myself as a wife, mother, and “in service” at home.  I went back to school, to seminary, working on my master’s degree in theological studies.  I wanted to find work in the church, or in a ministry, or service organization of some sort.  I’ve been searching for ways to share the Gospel of Christ – through writing, speaking, teaching, counseling…whatever it might be that God wants me to do.  I’ve been ready and willing to do it! Fighting FamineAnd yet, when I chucked the old stuff in search of all this new stuff, committing myself to the Lord and focusing on finding the work that HE had planned for me to do…I got crickets.  Nothing happened.  Doors seemed to slam in my face.  When I asked folks at church and in different ministries what they needed, offering my services in whatever way needed, I honestly couldn’t find much more to do than make play dough for the children’s ministry at church. It’s not that I think making play dough isn’t important.  It’s just that, well, I REALLY wanted to do more for God, you know?  Big stuff.  BIG STUFF!  Like, I was ready to write the next big Bible study and join Women of Faith on the speaking tour, right? And so I’ve really gotten myself into a rut, and I’ve just been feeling pretty useless for Him lately.  And that made me all the more restless. So I tried to do more.  I joined a Precept Bible study.  And then I started hosting a small group Bible study in my home.  And I went to church on Sundays and Wednesdays for more Bible study.  And I offered to teach in the children’s ministry.  And I volunteered for bunches of committees at the Christian school my children attend.  And I took on a couple of “free-lance” jobs to bring in some extra income.  And I began reading and writing more and more and more and more…and guess what?  I’ve been getting really busy! But the last couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling very uneasy.  Yes, I’ve been busy…but empty.  I’ve been very tired, and very impatient.  I’ve been getting frustrated with others very easily, and that’s just not like me.  I’ve been longing to “get away” and do something more…because, even though I’ve been doing a lot of stuff, it just hasn’t been all that fulfilling. And it’s left me feeling guilty.  I’ve been feeling guilty that I’ve not been “doing enough,” and that I’ve not been content.  And if you aren’t content, you are not at rest. So, I’ve prayed, asking for forgiveness, and offering myself up even more to God, begging Him to show me His will, lead me on His path, guide my steps, close the doors that are “wrong” and open the ones that are “right.” And yet…the more I’ve asked, the more discontent I’ve become. In fact, the frustration and malcontent I’ve felt has really concerned me.  What is going on?  Isn’t doing all this what God wants from me?  A willing heart?  Hands to serve?  Here am I, Lord…send me!!!! ???? More confusion.  No peace.  No rest. And then, tonight, out of the blue, God just answered my prayer.  Actually, He just woke me up from the “un-rest” within my soul and showed me something so simple that I know that I’m going to be able to rest in His peace now. Tonight, I got my answer when I read these words in the book from our small group Bible study (Gospel, by J.D. Greear):  Before Christianity tells you to DO anything, it calls you to sit in wonder and amazement at what God has done FOR YOU.” Of course.  It’s as simple as that. It’s as simple as being a Mary in this Martha world. “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.   She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””  (Luke 10:38-42) jesus-mary-and-marthaYes, I have a tendency to be a “Martha,” don’t you?  Hurrying and scurrying around, doing what needs to be done, serving others, looking for ways to make my projects even more “Pinteresting” and “Martha Stewart-ish” than they need to be!  I’ve often thought how incredible it was that God knew that the name “Martha” would be so appropriate for this woman all these years later! And you know, this isn’t a new thought for me.  I’ve known this lesson for such a long time!  I even read a book called, “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” many years ago.  But in my zeal to achieve, in my need for worldly approval, and in my pride, I had forgotten “what is better.” It came to this moment– in God’s timing of this current struggle within my very soul right now, during this Bible study, in this season – He reminded me of this, this one thing that is needed. Yes, He has chastened me a bit, rebuked me somewhat… but He has done it so tenderly, so lovingly, so beautifully…that it has changed me profoundly. It’s not what I can do for Him.  It’s what He has done for me.  I don’t need to earn His approval.  It is already mine, through Christ.  I don’t have to seek ways to serve Him constantly.  I only need to seek one thing – “only one” – His beauty. And I will do so, at His feet. And I will rest there.  And it will not be taken away from me. I think I’ll be able to sleep now.

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