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Friday, December 13, 2013

Productive Rest!

Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.
 Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. Psalm 127:2

Unexpected blessing happened twice before noon today. To have it happen once would be a joy. Twice was pure delight.

The first reversal came in the form of a menacing project that simply rolled over and let me pet its soft underbelly. I had braced myself to take mastery over this gargantuan task only to have it greet me with a friendly lick. A complicated problem that had promised to hijack vast amounts of time, resolved itself in five minutes. I thanked God for his very practical display of mercy.

The second issue was more challenge than menace. Its resolution was no less miraculous.

I perused the page in front of me from top to bottom before highlighting my favorite lines in optimistic yellow. The text represented the salient points to be conveyed through a video project. The face and voice of my friend, another long time member of our staff, kept surfacing as I read. She, I thought, would be the perfect person to present this vision.

I tried to dismiss the thought. After all, I had already outlined an approach that involved videoing several families. Personal story is an effective tool. Add children and the effect is golden. I just had to determine which families, what questions to ask and the order in which to present their stories--all before the actual videoing or editing took place.

My next step was to discuss the vision one more time with the director of the ministry on which the video focused. Again the idea to use my friend and maybe more members of the staff surfaced in my head. I tested the waters. “What do you think…?” “Do you think it would work…?”

Suddenly we were in complete agreement. A new plan. A workable plan. A plan far better than any previous one. I was relieved. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to put it into motion. What I had thought would take days of work became a much shorter project. It would be easier, and it would be better. Clearly God was at work.

To have my load lightened in this way twice in a two hour span of time brought Psalm 127:1 to mind. This is the Bible verse that immediately preceded the one I used in yesterday’s blog. It was not the first time today that I had been drawn to reconsider its message.

When I thought back on yesterday’s blog, Even in My Sleep, I concluded the word rest brings to mind different ideas for each of us. It is a word that demands an author to explain what she means when she uses it.

For example, in Your Beautiful Purpose, Susie Larson, uses rest to mean a time when a person is removed from active ministry and set to the side by God. In her explanation, rest is not the sought after vacation or spa experience. It is more like being in time out or left out—a forced rest rather than a chosen one.

Other people see rest as a lovely, but almost out of reach hope. A friend messaged me first thing this morning after reading what I wrote in yesterday’s blog, “I love to rest and I love being productive, but it's a comforting reminder that God WANTS us to rest.” I am hoping she take this as personal permission from God to sit back and enjoy life a little more.

What I experienced today was rest of a different kind. The events of my morning provided stress-free productivity. I was fully engaged in the work, but refreshingly removed from the burden.

In the first instance, I believe God stepped in to solve a problem. He did almost instantly what could have taken me months to accomplish. In the second instance, the work was not removed, but it was redirected. The new plan energized rather than drained me. It sparked both creativity and organization. While I still managed the details, it felt as if I did it while enjoyably perched on the shoulders of the chief project engineer.

I have a new appreciation tonight for what it means when it says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the work of the builders is wasted.” I experienced the joy of God’s handiwork applied through my hands. I recognized anew that many of my best efforts have been merely exercises in futility because I labored alone.

Today’s experiences provide a fresh perspective on how Psalm 127:1 enhances the meaning of verse two, “It is useless for you to work so hard 
from early morning until late at night,
 anxiously working for food to eat;
 for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

God does give rest to those he loves. Sometimes that rest comes in a nap or recreation. Sometimes it comes in a season of disengagement. 

Sometimes rest comes during a time of productivity, and it is equally refreshing.