Category Archive: Trust

The Value of Rest

Tension knotted my neck as I drove out of town. It had been a couple of busy weeks (when haven’t they been lately!) and Don and I had planned a brief getaway. I had a low-grade headache and Don felt anxious. We needed this break after a year of lockdowns.

As we drove, the muscle ache in my neck began to diminish. My headache eased. Don felt more relaxed. We drove to Napa, a lovely small town in Northern California’s wine country, wandered about and ate lunch beside the river. Then we left Napa for Sonoma on beautiful, windy country roads banded by a variety of vineyards, green trees, shrubs and grasses.

We slept about eleven hours that night. No alarm, no schedule, just rest. What a treat! We rested, walked, ate well, and were renewed together.

Wandering around Sonoma the next day we found candles, some kitchen utensils, and cute, adjustable masks. Hey, if we have to wear them for another few months they might as well be cute–and fit! These have adjustable ear straps so fit my face better than many. And they’re sparkly!

That evening we dined with our good friend, Sue and her new husband, Steve. Lovely to spend time together, enjoying a wonderful visit and opportunity to learn to know Steve.

Sometimes we just need to get away. To rest. It’s not always possible to take an overnight trip; but think of places you can go for a day. Perhaps you can walk around a nearby park. Drive into some nearby countryside. Meet with a friend, now that pandemic restrictions are slowing being lifted. Work in the garden. Lie on the couch and listen to glorious music that lifts your soul.

I heard last night that 81% of working people feel more stressed than before the pandemic. Instead of work from home giving people more time, it’s tied them into working longer hours and more days–without a break. We weren’t made to keep going and going and going. I’m not, nor are you, the Eveready Bunny!

God designed and told us to take a Sabbath, a day of REST. And if we do anything continually, without a break, we burn out. There’s a reason to change our routines–to refresh our minds, hearts and souls to follow the unique and individual purpose God has given to each of us. That’s whether we’re working full-time, writing a novel as I’m doing, or raising children. God’s wisdom is clear on this.

Do not wear yourself out to get rich …

Proverbs 23:4

I confess I’m not good at this–not for riches, but for the standard I set myself. I can get caught up in front of my computer for hours at a time, then am tired when I stop to be with my beloved husband in the evening. That’s not wise stewardship of my time or talent.

Let’s remember who we are working for. When I get bogged down in a scene I’m writing, or procrastinate because there’s so much else on my plate, I need to remember that my work is for the Lord, and he will direct my use of time and resources if I allow him to do so.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23, 24

So I’m going to work at this. At taking more breaks during the day where I get up and move, or sitting outside with Don enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. At taking down time regularly so my spirit can be renewed and my worship and creativity increased.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.

Psalm 23:1-3a

Question: What do you do to keep balance in the various ‘slices’ of your life–work, family, home, worship, caregiving, whatever else God has entrusted to you?

Me, right now? I’m heading for a nap with Don and Paigey!

Living in Freedom

What do you need this year? Is it confidence, hope, peace, forgiveness–either for yourself or toward someone else?

Will we shift with the changing variances of politics, economics, belief systems, hurts? If we do, our feet will slip easily, not having stood on solid ground.

Many of you will recall reading about Corrie Ten Boom, author of THE HIDING PLACE. In 1922, Corrie was the first woman licensed as a watchmaker in the Netherlands. Over the next ten years, in addition to working in her father’s watchmaking shop, she established a youth club for teenage girls, providing religious instruction and classes in performing arts, sewing, and handicrafts. The faith of Corrie and her family led them to serve their society by offering shelter, food and money to those in need.

The family determined to help the Jews during Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, which began in 1940. At great danger to themselves, they offered a haven for Jewish fugitives. The Dutch Underground Resistance learned of their activities and sent an architect to create a concealed space within their home, “the Beje.” Whenever neighborhood sweeps happened, a buzzer alerted the resident Jews to crawl into “the hiding place” and remain completely still until the raid ended.

Corrie also became involved in directing some of the underground movement to smuggle Jews to other safe homes. It’s estimated that 800 Jewish lives were saved because of her work.

What caused this family, this woman, to risk their own lives to help those less fortunate? Some important tenets of their faith included the fact that the Jews were God’s chosen people, and that all people are created equal.

In February 1944, a neighbor betrayed them and the family was arrested. Corrie’s father died ten days later. The Jews hidden in the concealed room were not discovered and were later moved, with the help of police who were part of the Resistance, to other locations.

Eventually Corrie and Betsie were taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where they led Bible studies at night with a Bible Corrie had been able to smuggle into the camp, despite the thorough searches of the guards. Her dear sister, Betsie, died in the camp in December 1944, telling Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.”

Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.

George Macdonald, Author and Mentor to C.S. Lewis

Twelve days after Betsie’s death, Corrie was released–later learned to be due to a “clerical error.” A week later all those in her age group were sent to the gas chamber.

It would have been easy for Corrie to become bitter. After the camp was freed by the Americans, she spoke about forgiveness in a church in Germany. Afterward, a man approached her, offering his hand to shake hers. She immediately recognized him as one of the Ravensbruck guards who had been particularly cruel to Betsie.

Arm stiff at her side, would Corrie shake his hand, forgive him? Or could she not because of the horrors he and the Nazi system had perpetrated on her and her family?

She quickly asked God for strength, reached out and shook this guard’s hand. It was one of those moments where one has to think “Will I act as I believe; or as I feel.” She acted on her belief in the forgiveness of God.

Corrie ten Boom at Right with Billy Graham and others in front of the old watch shop

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

C.S. Lewis

Forgiveness. The reason Jesus Christ came to earth to live among us, to die a criminal’s death, and rise again. Because he took the penalty for our sins–yours and mine–on himself, we can be free of the weight, bondage, and penalty of sin.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9, NIV

I love another quote by Hannah More, an English religious writer and philanthropist who died in 1833.

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.

Hannah More

Forgiveness frees us, not only from the penalty of our own sin, but from the burden of anger, hatred and a bitter spirit that grow in us when we refuse to forgive someone else.

Is there anyone you need to forgive? I thought of this on the weekend and realized I still have some resentment in my heart toward a (very) few people who have hurt me. And I choose to let that resentment go. Sometimes that takes forgiving multiple times, perhaps prayer with a deep friend, or counseling, before we’re able to really let the issue go; but isn’t living in the light of freedom, with a heart that doesn’t hold onto past hurts, worth working that through with God?

I think so. I hope you do too.

Where Else would we Go?

I’ve been in a marvelous, online writers’ conference the past three days, so wasn’t sure what I would write about today. Then, in my inbox, I received this wonderful Bible art from YouVersion, created by Faithlife:

This just resonated with me because God used this scripture in a time of my desolation and despair. After my first husband died, the memorial service was over (and was all I wanted it to be, to glorify God, honor Jerry, and help people understand how to have a relationship with God), I crashed.

Suddenly I was in a dark pit, a place a despair, of deep loneliness, of hopelessness. What if all I believed about Jesus was a lie and I’d never see Jerry again?

Some of the disciples walked away from Jesus when they felt the road was too hard. He asked the rest, “Will you also leave me?”

Peter, in his usual extrovertish, bullish personality, jumped in. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69 NIV)

After wallowing in my personal pit for about three weeks, God brought the scripture above to my mind. At that moment my mind left the pit, the lie the enemy would have me believe that God’s Word was untrue. I continued to grieve, deeply, but without that despair of “where is God in all this?”

I think we all face these questions from time to time. Our pastor said this morning that it’s possible to want what Jesus can do for you more than you want Jesus, a good life more than God in our life.

At the Last Supper, Jesus said one of his disciples would betray him that very night. Rather than naming Judas, I think Jesus wanted each of them to look into their own hearts. No one wanted to be Jesus’ betrayor; but each recognized the temptation in his own heart for power, wealth, comfort. Each looked into his own heart and, one by one, said, “Surely you don’t mean me?” But it was Judas, the one who held the disciples’ purse-strings, who betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins–and later hanged himself.

God has already given me everything–Himself, salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ, eternal life. He owes me nothing.

So will I serve him because I expect to get something out of it for myself– recognition, wealth, influence, whatever–or will I serve him wholeheartedly because he has already given me everything, and I adore him?

Jesus took me from death to life. Think about how huge that is!

In a day where many are weary, heartsick, lonely, feeling abandoned, we need the hope that only Jesus can bring.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:7-10, NIV

May we be blessed this week, knowing God has freely given us himself; and may we worship and adore him with our words, actions and service.