I had a pretty hectic schedule these last few weeks. We patched up an unexpected leaky roof, filed taxes, and celebrated Chinese New Year (which is kind of like Christmas for Chinese families except kids get “lucky money” from relatives instead of gifts from Santa.) Only now can I get back to my normal routine. Feeling drained, I made sure to take things easy the week after the festivities to rest up. Usually, a few free afternoons are all I need to recover and feel rested. However, last night, when our internet had a slight hiccup, I went into full-on panic mode again. The sudden wave of anxiety shocked me. The week of rest I had before didn’t seem to matter much. Emotionally, I felt like I had not rested at all.
There’s obviously something still burdening me. I didn’t know if these emotions were just the aftermath of this busy season, or was there something more. The only way to find out was to write in my journal and understand what was really bothering me. I have to confess. When I’m going through a stressful time, I don’t want to journal. Who wants to face their own fears and negativity when they’re already feeling stressed? But no matter how long I put things off, eventually, I’ll have to take the plunge. This time is no different. It took four journaling sessions, but I finally saw what I was missing.
“For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.” (Heb 4:10) The kind of rest, or Sabbath, that scripture refers to, is a place where we rest from our works. When I finally took the time to be honest with myself, this verse came to mind. Even though on the outside, I had stopped “working”, but inwardly, my heart and my mind were doing the complete opposite. My mind was working overtime worrying about my aging parents, taxes and planning backup plans in case the roof leaked again. It didn’t matter that God had so brilliantly, and even miraculously resolved all of my mini-crisis just a week before. I still obsessed over every little thing that could possibly go wrong. On the inside, I wasn’t resting at all.
The verse implies that God felt His work was complete. He rests because the work is already finished. In the same way, God is extending the invitation to us. We can rest because all that needs to be done has been finished already. So why was I still feeling the opposite? Why did I feel like I had to do more?
Why? If I was honest, it’s because I didn’t really trust God. God may have finished His work for now, but what about the next time things blow up again? Maybe if I controlled the circumstances better, I could avoid these problems from happening. It all boiled down to trust. Did I trust in God’s goodness? Did I really believe that God’s plan is the best?
It’s our human condition to want to be in control. For many of us, the question that rules over our faith is not if God exists. The key questions we face daily is whether God is good, and if He is trustworthy. As I pondered some more, I realized this was also God’s question to me – will I trust Him? Even when He allows circumstances to happen that are outside of my comfort zone, will I still trust Him?
In His wisdom, He didn’t make my problems disappear. Instead, He showed me how He will partner with me in working through these challenges every single time. When I looked back at the last few weeks, all of my problems were resolved so perfectly. Things worked out much better than I could ever have planned. We enjoyed a 70 degree balmy weather in mid-winter while my ceiling was being fixed and painted. The roofers quickly fixed the roof, and we were able to air out the house and let paint dry without freezing to death. A loved one ran into my car, and an experienced car mechanic patched up the damage for free so I didn’t have to worry about paying for the extra expense. I had no control over the weather. I had no control over the car accident. And yet God provided and resolved things for me in ways that were above and beyond what I could ask, think or imagine. In the process, I learned that God is the God who provides. I understood that God’s timing is perfect. I saw how God was truly in control. Nothing was too small or insignificant to Him. If it mattered to me, it mattered to Him. He was teaching me that I can trust Him.
It’s a case of mismatched expectations. God has promised that if we walk with Him, He will give us an “abundant life.” I’d forgotten about that for a brief moment. He desires to partner and interact with us in life. He is inviting us to meet Him through life’s circumstances. He wants to break into our mundane day to day existence with His divine touch. As what C. S. Lewis alludes to in The Chronicles of Narnia, God is good, but He is not safe.
God is taking me on a journey. And this journey requires for me to trust in His goodness and His sovereignty. Trust is not built in a vacuum. That’s why He’s been meeting me through situations in life to remind me of His goodness and His commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel anxious about the future at times. In fact, it feels even scarier when I stop trying to control everything. But now, there is another path, another choice. There is the choice to learn to trust God and seek His help instead. Will I trust God and enter His rest? Or will I trust myself instead? That is still the decision each of us must make every single day.
For further reading on journal writing, visit Journal Writing As Spiritual Exercise.