Resting and Reflecting
WORDS BY TESS HICKS
The word “abide” seems to be everywhere these days. I have seen it on shirts, mass-produced artwork, reclaimed pallet boards, cheap mugs, and stationery in the checkout line at the local craft store. It makes the reader feel good about wanting to escape the hectic pace of life many of us live. It testifies to the reality that we all want to slow down, recharge, and reconnect.
But with whom or what are we filling ourselves up?
We All Need Rest
“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’” (Mark 6:31b)
In this short reprieve in the ministry of Jesus, he called his dearest friends away from the noise and needs of the crowd. He called them to himself at a quiet place to rest and abide with him. But what does it mean to rest in Christ?
Jesus called his disciples away from their immediate work for a while. They had been working themselves to the point of exhaustion without finding any time to eat (Mark 6:31a).
We all have those kinds of days.
In my experience as a mom, this is what it has often looked like: The day starts with the baby crying to be nursed, while the boys are already wrestling in their bedroom while simultaneously rolling golf balls on the hardwood floor. I rush out to get breakfast going and then my toddler needs to go potty, so I have the oldest watch the baby so I can be on hand to “wipe properly.”
As I go from cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, disciplining, and guiding, the day quickly unfolds on itself. I am left without a moment to eat in peace, let alone to pause, pray, or reflect. All I can see are the bodies that need to be bathed and fed, hugged and kissed, scolded and encouraged.
The main thing on my mind is how to get to the end of the day so I can collapse into bed with my BBC miniseries and hidden Whittaker’s Peanut Butter Slab that the children and ants have thankfully not discovered.
I am ashamed to say I have lived too many days like that to count. When I crash into bed, I do not go as Jesus’ disciples did, with him to a quiet place to rest. Instead, I trade the hectic work-filled minutes for a few hours watching someone else’s life play out before my eyes on a small portable DVD screen. (I know, who has a DVD player anymore!?) The beautifully dressed actors and actresses always seem to go about their work with ease. I, on the other hand, have sported “missionary chic” all day, which for me means not combing my hair for a week and wearing a faded tank top and a skirt that came from a thrift store in my sleepy port town.
Rest Means Drawing Close to the Savior
What Jesus had in mind for his disciples was so much more than trading hard work for hedonistic pleasure.
He called his best friends, his beloved disciples, to walk with him to a quiet hilltop where they could gaze upon him and find true rest for their souls.
There is nothing wrong with the occasional film or sweet treat, but being in the presence of the Savior is the most life-giving, soul-quenching experience we can have. He is the bread of life, the living water, the green pasture for his beloved sheep (Jn. 6:35, 7:38, 10:9).
More than they needed food and drink, Jesus’ disciples needed to be alone with Christ, to refocus their gaze upon his hands rather than their myopic focus on what their hands were doing for others. Too often my eyes are so downcast that I can only see the things right in front of me that need to be done.
Jesus is with me—and he is with you—in the mundane moments of every day. He is with you in the morning as you open your eyes and brace yourself for what the day may hold. Sister, if you desire to live with and serve Jesus, make sure that you go to a quiet place and find rest for your soul in him.
Rest Results in Reflecting His Image
A few months ago as I was nursing my newest baby, a beautiful boy of six months, I got a tiny taste of what it means to really abide with Christ. After my son had nursed for a while, he pulled his little face away from my breast and looked straight up into my face. As he cooed with delight, I was taken aback by the intensity of his gaze. He was looking at me—really looking at me. He smiled with an expression of utter trust, contentment, and love. Then when I looked into his gorgeous brown eyes, I saw two perfect reflections of my own face in them.
In a similar way, when we draw so close to Jesus that he is all we see, when he sees us he will see himself glorified in our lives. As we come into his presence in quiet, he will carry our burdens, lift our sorrows, delight our spirits, and refresh us for the work of our hands. When we rest in the arms of our loving heavenly Father, we find true peace and contentment.
What it Means to Abide
This year, I have become more and more convicted to find time to spend alone with the Lord. My husband takes the children to our church for evening prayer on Monday nights, and that gives me a solid block of time to read the Bible, pray for friends and family, and confess my sins to the Lord. It is also a wonderful time to sit on my back porch at dusk, look out towards the coconut trees in the distance, and see how the setting sun lights up the clouds.
This time of resting and reflecting on the beauty of our Lord has been a balm to my soul and in turn a blessing to my family. My husband has commented several times that he finds me more at peace and content in the role God has given me as a mother.
How do we rest? This time with the Lord will look different for each of us, in each changing season of life. However, it is both necessary and nourishing to come into the Lord’s presence daily, open his Word, and communicate with him in the comfort and companionship of prayer. Participating in your local church through the study of God’s Word and the practice of ordinances, such as communion, is a wonderful way to abide in Jesus. As we remember his sacrifice on the cross, we are filled with grace to also lay down our lives for others.
So what does it really mean to “abide”? Christ spoke to his disciples in John 15:4 saying, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.” As we walk through today into tomorrow, we must never take our eyes off Jesus.
We are only fruitful if we cling to Christ the vine (Jn. 15:5). As Christ reflects the glory of his Father in heaven, we have the opportunity to be the image-bearers God created us to be.
It is my prayer that when God looks upon you, he will see a beautiful reflection of himself.