Working, Resting, and Knowing God Is Who He Says

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I’ve always been on the move. As a child, I wanted to walk everywhere, which usually turned into running everywhere with a cartwheel or ten thrown in along the way. I’m still occasionally called out for being a mover and a shaker. At a teacher orientation I attended a few years ago, the speaker picked me out of the crowd having noticed that I was shaking my foot. I remember being taken aback because I wasn’t even aware I was doing it.

I had a conversation this week with a friend about yoga. She’s really enjoying the exercise, but as I told her, I’ve always found it boring. I realize that the point of yoga is to relax, to calm, to stretch, and to center, but I’ve just never gelled with that kind of exercise. (In yoga’s defense, I didn’t even really like Zumba. I tried it, but again, it didn’t require enough energy for me.) Personally, I prefer an open road for a run or a hot studio for a high-intensity dance class.

But sometimes running is part of my problem. I go, go, go until I’m tired, worn out, and irritable. I can go on lack of sleep for a while, but eventually it catches up to me, much to my dismay.

Though you may not have moving and shaking personality tendencies, on some level we can probably all relate to experiencing a lack of rest in a spiritual sense. We forget to rest and take time to replenish our souls – the most important part of who we are.

In Psalm chapter 46, the well-known verse “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10) comes from a time of battles and war. God wanted His people to know that He would be “exalted among the nations.” He was reminding them that He is ruler.

Let me pause and say that God doesn’t tell us not to work or to sit back and simply hope for the best. After all, He gave us a model of working for six days and resting for one when he created the earth, and Jesus told the parable of the talents to teach that we are to use the gifts God gives us. (See Matthew 25:14-30.) Aren’t we told to work as if we are working for the Lord?  “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). When we work, we are to work. But when we rest, how are we supposed to rest?

There are so many articles and books being published right now encouraging a message of rest. In our constantly moving, hectic, and busy world, these messages are good reminders, certainly. But most importantly, we must remember that God wants us to rest in Him. Psalm 68 says that He “daily bears our burdens” (v. 19). In everything we do, we are to please the Lord, we are to remember Him, and we are to know that He is God. One way we acknowledge Him as God is through prayer.

David was quite the pray-er. He wasn’t afraid to be honest and vulnerable in his prayers. When he felt threatened, weak, angry, thankful, or happy, he prayed. And wow, did he! Just look at Psalm 69 or read Psalm 70 to see his truthful, humble, and heart-wrenching words. These prayers are models for our own. And though David was honest, he was still respectful. He both loved and feared the Lord. Reading David’s prayers can encourage us to be just as honest but respectful before God as well. He already knows our hearts anyway, but through prayer, we rest in Him. We can gain knowledge from the Holy Spirit, we discern His will for our lives, and we draw closer to him if we allow ourselves this time.

I’m still working on prayer, and I guess I always will be. Last week, I had a prayer answered. It wasn’t answered because of what I said or how I prayed though; it was God’s doing. The answer wasn’t the exact outcome for which I’d prayed, but there were an unending number of outcomes that I prayed against. And I believe God answered my prayer. I am thankful to Him, and I give Him glory in answering that prayer. I want to be intentional in acknowledging Him as God, and though he doesn’t always answer our prayers as we pray them, we continue to be still and acknowledge that He is God. We rest in Him.

I’m better at being still than I used to be, but I still push myself too much sometimes. I want to continue to learn the importance of resting in God. I hope to continue to gain friends to rest with, too. Won’t you join me?

 

But if not, He is still good.
Daniel 3:18

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.”
Great Expectations

There is no possible way to do this book justice in one blog post, but here’s a quick review anyway. Great Expectations, one of the greatest classics ever written, is set in Victorian England and tells the story of Pip, an orphan who faces monetary challenges, relationship struggles, and life-changing choices.

Pip’s tale begins with much excitement. The opening scene takes place in Kent, specifically in a graveyard, with an escaped convict preying upon Pip and ordering him to bring him “wittles” (food) and “a file” (small handsaw). The convict’s legs are still chained, and Pip is his only hope in escaping such a burden. Lucky for Pip, his brother-in-law is a blacksmith, so Pip is able to return with the convict’s demanded items after having been severely threatened if he did not. Though Pip plays no part in the convict’s capture, the convict is ultimately caught and taken back to the Hulks (old ships used as prisons), but from that point on, Pip’s journey becomes one of both great fortune and detestable misfortune.

Some scenes later, Pip is invited to the wealthy Miss Havisham’s house to play with her adopted daughter, Estella. After being exposed to the upper class, Pip’s view of the world changes, along with his ambitions and aspirations in life. He greatly desires to be wealthy and to leave his life of blacksmith apprenticeship behind. He falls in love with Estella, who treats him with utter contempt, yet his ultimate hope is to become a gentleman to both impress her and win her heart.

Interestingly enough, Pip receives word that he has been given a large inheritance (his great expectations), and he moves to London to – that’s right – become a gentleman. While there, he comes to believe that Miss Havisham is his mysterious benefactor and that he will one day marry Estella. Pip meets Herbert, and the two become the best of friends, but Pip’s relationships at home in Kent become strained. Pip learns much in London, including the truth about the circumstances that brought him there and the real desires of his heart.

Much of Pip’s focus is on his shortcomings; he is constantly upset with himself at his failure to be better child in Kent with his sister and brother-in-law, his miserable attempts to impress Estella, and his awkwardness in becoming a gentleman in London. Yet Dickens seems to encourage his readers to look at Pip’s actions, not just his words. Pip deals with much internal conflict as he learns he must live with the choices he makes, but his great adventures, conflicts, gains, losses, and changes allow Pip to develop as a character while also giving the reader the ability to easily connect to Pip.

Dickens is known for his development of character, but his style and the choices he made as an author are certainly worth appreciating: the importance of the settings and their reflections of Pip’s journey; the development of themes; the characters, objects, and elements of symbolic nature; the depth of the allusions made; and the beautiful imagery Dickens creates. Critics disagree about the worth of the numerous coincidences (often involving characters) which are so prevalent in Dickens’s works. Regardless of your take on the happenstance of the characters’ relations, you’ll likely agree that Dickens was very creative in his creation of such coincidences.

So much can be learned from Pip’s journey into adulthood, including the need for loved ones, the unimportance of wealth, and the value of staying true to who you are. If you’ve never read Great Expectations, you’re missing out on a story from which much can be learned. Happy reading!

 

“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
Great Expectations