Last week, I wrote about grace-empowered work. But we also need to understand grace-empowered rest.
Most of us realize our need for help when it comes to work. But we often assume rest comes more easily. And that’s likely true if we understand rest in the context of passages like Proverbs 24:30-34.
“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore” (Ps. 131 ESV).
I sit outside as I write this. My coffee steaming in the cool, crisp air. The sound of rustling leaves and chirping birds in the background. Meanwhile, a yellow jacket seems oddly interested in what I’m doing. The morning sun shines on my face. I squint, holding down the pages of my Bible against the wind. But I love it. It reminds me of who’s really in control.
I have something that has been termed the “disease to please.”
I am a people pleaser.
My desire for people pleasing has affected me in many ways throughout my life.
It has led me to avoiding confrontation and saying yes to many (MANY) things that I didn’t really have the time or energy for. Every decision I make usually is made after numerous hours of contemplating how other people will think of my choice. Overall, my entire life has been lived in a way to try to make other people happy.
Recently, I have realized how my people pleasing has affected my relationship with God as well.
It has been my idol.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10 ESV).
When I read this verse, it felt like I had been kicked in the gut.
How many times have I put the approval of man over the approval of God?
In the book of Luke we read a story of two sisters, Mary and Martha.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV).
From the very beginning we can see the character of these two women.
Mary was at the Lord’s feet. She had “chosen the good portion.”
Martha, on the other hand, was a people pleaser. Instead of listening to Jesus’ teaching, she was running around her house to serve Him. This left her anxious.
Just like Martha, our people pleasing leaves us anxious.
We should strive to be like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus. Listening to His teaching, seeking His approval, worshiping Him.
In the words of John Piper, “Man’s disapproval cannot hurt you, and man’s approval cannot satisfy you.”
The world’s approval, or lack-thereof, is utterly useless to you. It is only God’s approval that has any meaning in our lives. Let our focus be on pleasing Him, rather than the people of this world.
My Fitbit watch tracks my sleep. I got 6 hours and 19 minutes of sleep last night. Not too bad. The National Sleep Foundation suggests 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night for people my age. But when I checked my sleep this morning, I was hoping it would be less, not more.
Getting rest might be the hardest thing I do each day. And I doubt I’m the only one. In a culture where productivity is praised, it’s harder than ever to rest.