I literally just left one of the Sunday morning services at Vintage, and God impressed on my heart to immediately process some of things that I have been struggling with regarding the business of life, and resting in Jesus. I’m thankful for pastors such as Rob Wilton who addresses these issues before they get worse. Transparency is healthy. Going about our daily lives and not resting in who Jesus is and what he gives us is a real thing, and we shouldn’t wait until our circumstances get overwhelming, but address it immediately before the Lord and allow him to restore these things and issues in our life. I hope and pray that this blog speaks to some of my friends who are struggling with business, restlessness, discontentment, a lack of trust, and a desire to trust Jesus.
Here is the centerpiece “resting” passage-Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your road and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Can anyone relate to a feeling of restlessness, discontentment, weariness, and a desire to just “chill” at the feet of Jesus, knowing he can handle what’s ahead? This had been a process for me over the past several months. I’m also using this blog to release some things I’ve been clinging too, in expectation that Jesus will heal me and restore me, and also do the same for you. I’m in realization that I have been living and walking in a lack of faith and trust in God. I have been restless because of my circumstances, asking God “why, when, how, where, who?”, etc. Doubting his perfect plan and loving goodness for my life. My expectations of God have often times become minimized and at a low-point, because my patience and flesh are at war within my soul. As the old hymn says, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” My flesh, as well as yours, is “prone to wander”. We are broken, sinful people, made in the image of a beautiful God, who knows better than us. So why do I keep doubting Him and walking in selfish motives? Lord help me. Help my desires to line up with yours. Help me to see that your plan and peace is perfect, and mine is circumstantial.
I promise this blog will end on a positive note, but here are some things that I am addressing in my life, that maybe you can relate to:
Business: Is being busy bad? No. The question then is, what does your business drive you to do, and how does it effect you? I have recently moved to New Orleans because God called me down here to not only finish seminary, but learn to trust in Him more as he prepares me and equips me for a lifetime of ministry. Ministry isn’t necessarily the future, it is now. And I am finding myself very busy. Taking some hard seminary courses, working to often times prove to myself that I can take care of myself, trying to make friends and meet people, adjust to a new community and place that is honestly very different from anywhere else, and also plug into ministry and not loose sight of the Great Commission. How do I “rest” through the business of life, when my calendar is filling up quickly and my schedule is jam-packed? I must trust in God’s leading, and not allow myself to let business become my God. I like being busy because it makes me feel productive, but there comes a point where I have to know my limits, and stick to them, while at the same time being obedient. This is possible, and I know it’s a struggle for a lot of my friends.
Discontentment and Restlessness: These elements are almost a punch in the face to me. Is anyone tired of turning and resorting to discontentment and restlessness? I know I am. I seem to find myself in this phase often, which is not good. The enemy knows my heavy weaknesses, and this is definitely one of them. It begins with being discontent. Which then leads to restlessness. Check out what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13..”for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If we know anything about the life of Paul, we know that he had 1,000,000 reasons to be discontent. What amazes me though is his perspective of life. Paul was all about the Gospel, and not about himself. He was constantly pouring out, and pouring out, because he knew why he was doing so. He looked to the greater reward, and he was fulfilled and more than satisfied. For me, I look at this and think to myself..”Wow Matthew, you just need to get over it.” This is true, and I’m thankful for guys in my life that will shoot me straight with hard truth. Because I’m often times a little to mushy gushy, and not enough hardcore with pushing through and just dealing with it. But there is also an element where life is def. hard, and situations are def. testing. God wants us to be honest about our struggles with him. When patience does not take root, then discontentment begins, and then my heart becomes restless. Whether it’s a relationship that my heart desires that has not yet been fulfilled, a prideful motive for wanting more of this, or more of that, being homesick, and missing what you had and wondering if God will do the same thing here, trying to map out your future and becoming frustrated because you can’t figure it out, and just wanting your circumstances to look different, maybe envying someone else’s life. As I type these things, and realize that’s me, all I can do is say forgive me Jesus and ask him to help me in my weakness, so that I can fully trust his perfect will. He does not want my life to be miserable, and he doesn’t want to not full-fill my hearts desire. He will. In his perfect, all-knowing timing. He knows better and his plan is better. I/we must trust that with every ounce of who we are, or we will fall time and time again into this trap of a discontent lifestyle and a restless heart! CLAIM IT!
People-Pleasing: If any of you guys know me, you know that I love people, and I love spending time with people. We all are gifted with something, and I know God has blessed me with an ability to relate to people, strike up a conversation, and just feel comfortable and not intimidated by people. All glory to him. Some of you also know that I have been all over the place since I’ve graduated high-school. Going to two colleges in Georgia, and making lifetime friends, being involved in campus ministries, youth ministries, youth camps, mission trips, etc. And then moving to Spartanburg, SC and forming an incredible unit of community at an incredible church, and now moving to New Orleans. I have networks literally spread out, and I love that. I love to network and I love having friends in different places. I look forward to this as life progresses. I also love to please people, and hate to either let them down, or to make enemies. Though I haven’t made many enemies, I also put a lot of effort into being on everyone’s good side, caring too much about my reputation and status. Though I want to maintain a good reputation, it needs to be centered on Christ and how he sees it, not as people see it. Trying to constantly please people can be draining, and trying to always talk to friends that are spread out can also be draining. I need to learn to be exactly where I am, while maintaining these friendships. But Jesus needs to be my first and foremost priority. I’m guilty of putting more energy into relationships with people, rather than communicating to my Heavenly Father and getting to know his Word and character more. He is the main source of strength, not people.
A lack of trust in Jesus: There are many more things I can think of, but I will stop at those as sinners we could go on and on haha. This last point sums it all up. A lack of rest and trust in Jesus comes from a lack of trust in Jesus. Is Jesus who he says he is or not? There are only two options. That’s it. Either my life reflects that I serve the risen, sovereign Savior of the universe, or it reflects that I don’t really trust him. Business, discontentment/restlessness, and people-pleasing, can all be overcome by the grace of Jesus Christ, and allows me to not have to settle for these things. He is enough!
My life feels crazy right now. In a good way, and a difficult way. My family is going through some serious stuff, both exciting and difficult. With an uncle who is battling severe cancer, who does not yet know Jesus, my family needs to trust in Jesus more than ever. That he will save him, and have his way. My sister is also engaged to be married next April and is graduating college this December. How crazy and awesome!! My parents are staying busy with work, ministry, loving their family, and setting an incredible example to so many. I’m pushing through seminary, with a lot of outside other things going on too. I have friends that are suffering, hurting, confused, and also celebrating, and loving life. Life is full of a lot of “real-life stuff”. We all are going through life, and all of these circumstances can either be good, bad, hard, easy, difficult, and enjoyable. But only one thing remains constant, and consistent…JESUS. He can be our shield of defense through the roller-coasters of life. I need to trust him more, and experience his REST even in the hardest times. So that I can be a witness and testimony of who Jesus is. People need him. Will they see him through us? He is our REST. Be encouraged my friends, depend on Him, and take life one day at a time, knowing that his grace is sufficient, and we can constantly trust him.