I spent the past four blissful days in remote Vermont. No cell service. No Internet. No TV. No iPad. No social media. It was glorious.
As a girl who's utterly always connected, going cold turkey and removing myself from all of those outlets made me feel like a million bucks. The camp where we stayed was remote, surrounded by nature and separate from all the distractions that usually take over. I sometimes feel chained to my phone. But without service, I had no use for it. The phone stayed in my bag, and I stayed outside enjoying the beauty around me.
The photo above doesn’t do the place justice. I stood on the dock that morning, overlooking the unreal splendor of the pond and sky in front of me, and listened to my breath. Inhale. Exhale. Just listening. I'm fairly certain my heart was pumping slower than it has in three and a half years.
The peace and tranquility of that moment felt like a dream. I finally understood why God created a sabbath.
God Himself rested. After Vermont, it was evident to me that He commands us to rest for a reason.
It's rare that I slow down enough to sit with my own thoughts. To rest and to appreciate the stillness. I'm a multi-tasker, and I prefer to stay busy. I treat productivity like a virtue. Even as I write this post, I have seven other tabs open in my browser, waiting for me should I need a quick distraction or think of something else I need to read or do. At some point, stopping, sitting, and resting became equal to failure in my book. Stillness is a challenge for me. (Is it any surprise I live in New York City?)
Take for example a recent yoga class I attended. We were practicing chair pose, as I’ve practiced a hundred times before. Yet on this particular day, for whatever reason, my thighs were shaking. Not the normal burning like you’d expect, but legitimately shaking and telling me to stop. We’re always instructed in yoga to take a child’s pose, the resting pose, at any point in class if we need to. I never do. I want to keep flowing, keep moving, keep progressing and getting better. For the first time, I took a child’s pose. My fellow yogis were sitting in their chair poses while I stretched on my mat.
I heard an onslaught of lies that I’m not strong enough or fit enough—that I need to work harder. I tried to figure out why I needed to rest. I drank plenty of water that day, I ate a snack before I came to class, I had a good night’s sleep. Why couldn’t I fix this? Why was I failing?
But I wasn’t failing. I was becoming stronger by listening to my body. Stronger by surrender to Him.
So I sat there in silence as I said a little prayer. I prayed against those lies. I reflected on how God give us rest. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Sometimes all we can do is take a child’s pose. We can take a second to breathe and rest. Let your body flop, your eyebrows lower, your jaw loosen, and your belly expand. We’re so tightly wound we forget what rest looks like. We think we have to “do it all” and that by expertly shaping our days, we become good and just. Let me tell you, though, God doesn’t care what our circumstances or our experiences are. He doesn't care how packed our calendars are. He cares about the state of our hearts and whether we're spending time with Him. Whether we're living for Him.
A few days after this yoga class, I heard a sermon from our associate pastor on Galatians. (Side note: I highly recommend Galatians if you’re looking for a solid introduction to Scripture. It’s short, but it’s beautiful and impactful.) The pastor preached on walking in the power of the Spirit.
Paul says to the Galatians, “Did you receive the spirit by works or by faith? Does He who supplies the spirit to you and works among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing by faith?”
In other words, “Are you now trying to obtain your goal by human effort?”
I knew my answer was one hundred percent, yes. I thought I needed more water, stretching, strength training, and sheer willpower in order to successfully sit in that chair pose. What I really needed was to stop striving. I had to stop trusting in my own efforts. I needed to let go and let God, and to remind myself that my achievements have no bearing on my standing with God.
The next time I went to yoga, I nailed the chair pose. I sat lower than I had previously. My legs seemed stronger. And I didn’t do anything different except to not do anything. I talked to God, and I surrendered my body to Him. It’s a lesson that applies to more than yoga practice.
I trust in my job, my bank account, my relationships, my physical appearance. I trust in my perceived ability to control my life. As my pastor said, because of brokenness, we’re designed to want to complete ourselves. This means I end up trusting in myself and my own desires more than I trust in Him.
"If I'm busy, that means I have worth and value and significance. If my calendar's full, then my heart will be full as well. I'm also busy because I don't trust in God's power and God's timing in my life. I feel that I need to take control because God is not working fast enough. I want progress to happen at my own pace, and that pace is usually different from God's plans."
Busyness and constant movement do not lead to a full heart. Instagram likes and Facebook invites most certainly do not. Pushing, planning, and striving are not the way to Heaven. God calls us to work hard for Him and His kingdom. The other stuff is just periphery.
How would life change if every day I woke up thinking of how I could best serve God today?
Serving him comes in many forms—including rest and prayer. I’m pretty sure I’m not serving Him when I’m pushing my body past its point of ability, or when I’m so tuned in to my phone that I have a more active relationship with Siri than I have with Him. God continues to show me the inherent value of rest and a Sabbath. He gave me time in Vermont to further illuminate how important stillness is in my walk with Him.
We walk in the power of the Holy Spirit through faith and faith alone. That’s a hard concept for me to grasp, but God’s grace makes it all possible. I’m working on being more still and more prayerful. I’m creating space between me, my phone, and my social media platforms. We need some time apart to refresh my soul. I may not be writing on this blog as much, but I hope to be writing more in my journal and in my prayers to God. I’m praying for faith and trust in Him above all. I pray for rich quiet time in His presence. Those other things of this world can all be put on hold. Ultimately, they do not matter. I pray He would be my deepest love and greatest joy. Let’s give Him room to work and to use us how He best sees fit. I have a feeling He will show us even more of His glory, bless others through us, and make us increasingly more like Him when we do.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.