Have you ever prayed and asked God a question, and heard a completely different answer to what you were expecting? Ever made assumptions about how God answers our prayer or the way things ‘should’ go?
This was part of a journey I embarked on last year.
Half way through last year, my husband – an incredibly hard working, intelligent, loyal man – found himself accepting a redundancy at work. We factored in some ‘rest time’ between jobs, which was very welcome, but then had a timeframe in mind as to when the next chapter of his career would begin. Sure enough, a potential new role looked possible, even extremely likely, only to fall through at the last minute. Then another lead that had opened up suddenly fizzed. This was not part of the plan! It was now four months or so and I was starting to wonder what to do next. We had prayed, in faith, for a great job; we had prayed for doors to open, and yet it seemed that they were only doing the opposite.
Around this time, I felt my prayers change. What was once a question of what job He might provide, became more a question of “God, what is happening?”. The very clear answer I felt in my spirit was “I am teaching you how to rest”.
My flesh in that moment instantly wanted to say “Yeah, yeah, got that sorted. Now can we get back to the job thing?”. But I did pause and really start to reflect on what it was that God was teaching me.
I am actually a big believer in rest. I am a huge fan of the Sunday afternoon snooze. Watching a favourite TV show, or flicking through a new recipe book, is up there with the best ways to spend an hour. But this was not the kind of rest that God was calling me to.
True rest, I have discovered, is when you give up trying to carry all of your burdens for yourself; when you package up your own agendas, worries and concerns and decide to lay them at the foot of the Cross.
Matthew 11:28-30 says it like this – Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (NLT).
My journey suddenly felt different. What was once actually passive rest – just stopping one activity to do another more ‘restful’ one – was now an active rest. I intentionally decided to hand it all over to Him, to be sweet with not knowing, to let Him decide the time-frames and the process. And, in return, He gave me a peace and a lightness that was fresh and new. The situation hadn’t changed, and yet it felt that it had. My soul was at rest.
Maybe you have been on a journey that has felt burdensome and you are wondering how you can carry it any further. Perhaps the doors you have been praying will open have yet to do so. Or maybe you just know in your spirit that you need to come to Jesus afresh. I encourage you – take His yoke, listen for His voice and find the freedom of genuine rest in Him.