Thursday, November 18, 2010


This season lingers with whispers of His grace.

The massive tree ten steps from my picture window has now shed most of its leaves. The tree top is green and gold. The lower part is sparse with golden, withering growth, and as I watch the wind gently blow through the oak's branches, the golds, piece by piece, fall gracefully eastward. The new fallen leaves then waltz in the cool, November air, looking to nest on our ground. They seem to seek for rest from their shady work, while they wait to be cured and carried away.

I love to watch their descent. I love to walk in the dead leaves and enjoy their crunchy texture and think of the hope they give. 


Yes. My falling and fallen leaves speak of a forward glance. They make me think of Thanksgiving, Christmas, a new year, and even a spring to come. The death of an old season gives me pause, as I anticipate celebration with family and build expectation of new life in a season to be born.

Yes. Fall gives me pause, an intermission, a tarrying, a choice time of lingering, a restful breath, a temporal stay from past activity.

Author Eudora Welty spoke of a pause as a slowing down, "like a merry-go-round after a ride." I can relate to her metaphor. As a child, I loved a merry-go-round, and if given a chance, I would still love to step onto the huge turntable and pick my seat, hoping for a carriage, where I could sit and enjoy riding and watching.

I would hate for the ride to end, but the slowing down before its stop would pull my heart and head into balanced reality.

Balanced reality. Restful waitings. Temporary stays. Intentional breathings.

When placed together, those four phrases sound very enticing.  In imagination their ideas resonate with desire.  In reality, they are met with resistant pleas.

They are, nonetheless, part of our Father's pattern for Christian existence. 

God's word is full of intentional breathings.  Thank of Jacob's fourteen year wait for Rachel; Joseph's three year wait in prison; Jonah's three-day stay within the fish's belly; Jesus' three-day wait on Resurrection power; the disciples 120-day wait in the Upper Room, and our Father's sovereign choice to rest one day after His six days of creating the world.

Jesus spoke about the need for restful waits. His words to His disciples when they were weary from ministry anchor my soul. Listen to His authoritative, compassionate plea, as Jesus speaks of the need for pause:

"Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31, ESV).

Receive those words for your life. Not only were they spoken for Jesus' disciples over two thousand years ago, but Jesus speaks them for us now. In my mind, I can hear His compassionate, Shepherd's voice. It is so personal and caring. Its gentleness breaks my soul in pieces. To grasp His loving reach is so humbling.

Yet, I sometimes tire in my grasp. Have you ever prayed with tired arms? "Father, I know you love me. I need you. I can't live without you, but my soul is weighed down with __________________. I long to reach back, to let the power of your love soak my dryness. Help me rest and believe."

The Greek word Jesus uses for rest in Mark 6:31 is anapauo (an-ap-ow-o), which means to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength; to refresh; to give one’s self rest; to keep quiet; to be calm and have patient expectation.

Some seasons of our lives feel like a movie stuck on pause. Can anyone relate?  The seeming suspension of time is frustrating and discouraging. The sense of stillness is unnatural to our flesh and makes us question our purpose and future. The craving for rest is powerful, but seems beyond reach. Isn't it ironic that the simplicity of ceasing can be such a war for us?

The craving of resting in Christ vs. the desire to find our own way is an exhausting fight, and it's a war we cannot win on our own. A lot of things may help, but only One can deliver. Only Jesus' strength is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Take time for breathing. Yield to Christ's call. Create a place for some restful waiting. Let Jesus' words give life and healing as you choose to be in His presence.

He speaks. He offers rest. He extends renewal.

As falling leaves prepare my tree for a new season, so God's pauses in our lives prepare our souls for fresh grace. Rest is not a delay of God's best. It is part of His best. And, friend, for spiritual wholeness, it's really not an option.

Take His hand and go with Him. By yourself. Find a quiet place and rest your soul in the strong arms of your Father.

Waiting and Expecting,