**This post was originally posted on the Women’s Life Blog June 2, 2015.
Isn’t summer glorious? The promise of freedom and fun in the sun can make anyone feel like a little kid. I love the season and the childlike desires that well up inside at its approach. But the beginning of this particular summer has been a bit different than anticipated. After only two weeks of this piece of freedom, I’ve found myself facing restlessness and the deeper reality of its wake. In light of such, the Lord has shown me that I must relearn about true rest. I have learned much about the need for physical, mental, relational, and spiritual rest in the pressured, busy season. But in the freer, less-scheduled season, when rest seems abundant, why am I experiencing restlessness?
As I finished my semester with a range of emotions, I yearned for the time when I would be “free,” when I could do all the things I’d wanted to do, when I could finally rest.
I sought to find rest and enjoyment in the fun things – in time with friends and with my nanny girls, in exercising, shopping, creating, taking fun pictures – in the regular activities that typically serve as avenues of rest for me. But all I found was restlessness. And the subtle anxiety of that restlessness began to show up everywhere. No deep sense of rest could be found, not even in my time with the Lord. After a semester of ingesting over 1,000 pages of theology, about 12-15 books of the Bible, and several counseling books, it was as if I felt bloated, unable to take in anything more. I needed to digest, to process all the Lord had taught me before endeavoring to study more in my time with Him. It was as if I missed Him and the intimate rest I have enjoyed in His presence. I called out to Him, “Revive me, my Father; restore my love for and devotion to you! Stir my heart’s affection for you and remove anything that is keeping me from intimacy with you.”
After days of feeling spiritually bloated and yearning for true rest and nearness to the Lord, He answered my cry for mercy and plea for clarity, revival, and restoration. My husband, dog, and I went on vacation this past weekend to see some friends. As we drove to VA, the Lord used the scenes on our route to begin to stir my heart. Wide open spaces, rolling hills, old towns and visions of past thriving life, I couldn’t take them in quickly enough. I felt my soul engaging the Lord. A longing in my heart at these sights began to arise, a longing that only He can know or understand, a longing that only He can satisfy.
The uncomplicated beauty mesmerized me.
The glory of God’s creation cultivated a deeper desire for heaven, and I felt my soul begin again to enjoy the freedom I’ve known for years.
I declare the praises of the Lord, for He is faithful. So many answered prayers came as He stripped away the familiar. On our vacation the only haven I knew in those quiet, empty moments was communion with Him. While I was getting ready or waiting on others. While things were quiet. While on the beach watching my dog really be a dog (haha – fetching in the water). While taking in new things. While putting my phone down. I shared it all with the Spirit and enjoyed it to the full because of the intimacy of His presence. No lettering or creating, no calling a friend, no typical/normal/familiar activities. Just the sweetness of communion with the God who loves me and wants all of my heart.
Here’s what He made clear.
In the busy, I yearned for God. He has graciously made me quick to recognize that I can’t do life without Him. I firmly believe He must be my source if I am to do anything of lasting value or glorify Him in any of my many responsibilities.
But in the slow, I fell to the temptation of yearning less for God and more for the “freedom” that the lack of busyness “promises.” No homework, no papers, no responsibilities (or at least a lot fewer). Life was about to be great or doable or relaxing again. But that’s the problem with hoping in, trusting in, and worshiping lesser things – aka gods (the façade of freedom and fun for me). These gods offer promises that they can’t ever fulfill. The lesser things – time with friends, creating, vacation – though good and precious gifts from God, cannot provide for me the life, joy, and freedom that I desire, that I was created to desire.
“He has put eternity into man’s heart…” Ecclesiastes 3:11
All these lesser (and mostly good) things can offer is a fleeting taste and a temporary, cheap counterfeit of what our hearts truly long for. They will never be enough, and if we are not careful and sensitive to conviction, we will run back to them again and again and find ourselves enslaved, burdened, and hopeless.
“He satisfies the longing soul…” Psalm 107:9
“For I will satisfy the weary soul…” Jeremiah 31:25
The reality is that my heart yearns for the day I’m with Jesus forever. For Sabbath rest, for transcendent peace, for abundant life, for deep and abiding joy. These yearnings aren’t always clear on the surface, and we can fall temptation to looking to those lesser things to satisfy and fill what only God is capable of satisfying and filling. He faithfully showed me once again that when I look anywhere other than the Author and Giver of these precious gifts, I will never be satisfied. I will be restless.
Praise God for that restlessness.
Have you experienced restlessness?
Consider these questions for processing, if so, and share with the Lord and with a friend.
- Have you sensed restlessness in some area of your life?
- What if that restlessness served as grace from God to point to the deeper reality in your heart?
- Can you articulate any deeper longings in your heart? Do you know the places where you fall temptation to seeking temporary fillings? instagram/FB, t.v., shopping, people, food, etc.
- Where are you searching to find joy and life other than in God?
- Are you content to simply be in the presence of God? To enjoy Him and commune with Him?
I think in a culture so overwhelmed with temporary satisfaction and fear of boredom, we may struggle with being content to enjoy the presence of God more than we realize. We find ourselves restless because most of our lives rarely sit still or lack some form of entertainment. I urge you to truly consider this. Ask the Lord to reveal more of Himself to you, more of your heart to you, and more of the precious joy of communing with Him. Because He alone satisfies. And it’s in His presence that we find true rest. Nothing less will ever come close.
I’m Lauren. I love Jesus and the life He’s given me. I’m married to the man I adore most [Ben], and we live life in Memphis, TN, with our baby girl, Harper and dog, Buck. We’ve recently moved from Wake Forest, NC, after I received a Masters in Biblical Counseling. I’m a firm believer that the poor in spirit really are blessed, that repentance leads to intimacy and joy, and that grace really is the best thing in all the world. Scripture, people, beauty, and words are my favorites. I genuinely love deep thoughtfulness as much as I love laughing.