Today in the United States and Canada we celebrate Labor Day. It is a national holiday in both countries that honors the labor force and all that we do for our country’s economy and the welfare of our citizens. For most of us it is a great time to rest, bring our summer activities to a close, begin to focus on a new school year, and start changing gears as we look ahead to the upcoming holiday season!
When I was helping my wife to get up earlier today, I began to think about the different ways that people rest in the course of their daily lives. This was brought vividly to mind as I confessed Nehemiah 8:10 and Proverbs 17:22 over her declaring as if Jesus was speaking directly to her that “My joy is your strength for the merry heart that I put into you is doing good like a medicine.” (KJV – personalized) After saying that I sat back on my legs and expressed to her the thought zinging through my head that the Lord had put that merry heart into her, but she had taken what was there and honed it into a lifestyle of praise and thanksgiving.
She has never been one to sit and complain about anything. Instead she had an almost immediate reaction to any potentially bad report that would cause her to burst out in verbal rejoicing with words of praise and thanksgiving unto the Lord. Our now adult children have many times confirmed this over the recent years, recalling the countless times that she would take opportunities of depression and turn them into joyful mediums of praise! Piper definitely understood the power of praise and thanksgiving and its ability to turn fear and anxiety and make it run the other way! I believe that this was the way that she found rest in the middle of busy schedules, home and ministry demands and dealing with the daily dramas inherent with the raising and homeschooling of four children.
How do you find rest? Upon our return to California after attending Bible School in Oklahoma we received all kinds of “advice” from individuals who openly expressed their fears and concerns for the course of action we were in the midst of taking in order (we strongly felt) to best care for my wife’s needs. As it turns out, much of the reasoning they were using to defend their “advice” was based on faulty information and incorrect summation on their part. And I believe that the more they thought on it, the more restless and agitated they became!
As that whole situation flashed before my eyes this morning, I had to laugh with the reality that I too would have been quite disturbed and unable to find inner rest if even half of what they said was true! The power of resting in the Lord through praise and thanksgiving became very evident at that time. When I talked to my wife about quitting my secular job and reactivating my lawn and garden care business in order to be with her 24/7, she wholeheartedly agreed with me and together we praised the Lord for His care and watchfulness over us. At that point any potential worry or fear was placed in His hands and we turned our full attention to Him.
The care of the outside pressures of the fear and criticism that came from a few relatives became very foreign to us. Did we have to face and even walk through some tough times? Yes, but we chose to cast those tiring and heavy loads upon Him and walk in His rest. (See: Matthew 11:28) And when the point got pushed we would (and still do) quickly raise up our voices in praise and thanksgiving until the atmosphere relaxed and we were refocused on His abilities and His love instead of the fear and pressure that the situation was attempting to lead us with!
So I ask you again on this Labor Day celebration on the first day of September 2014… How do you rest while on the rollercoaster ride of life? Might I suggest a quick vacation moment of Praise and Thanksgiving to the One who is greater than anything the fears of this world can offer to you? Maybe you might think that this type of response just isn’t you? Well, my wife was not raised with that type of training. As I have mentioned many times before, she is quite different in many ways than the rest of her family. Praise and thanksgiving is a trait that she learned and decided to always follow on her own initiative!
Maybe it is time for you to take the initiative (or responsibility) for yourself and choose a new rest from the trials and tribulations of life for this new season that has come upon us following today’s Labor Day celebration! Have a great rest on this last day of your three day weekend holiday! Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting (to REST in) today?”