My grandchildren are learning to sing hymns, and I love it! There’s not much cuter than hearing a two-year-old’s rendering of timeless theological truth. And whether or not he understands it today, the words are in his brain just as all those crazy advertising jingles from the seventies will forever be stuck in my own gray matter.
Both children and adults need to grow in our understanding of the words we think we know. Take the word rest for example. I’ve been thinking and writing about rest since January, and just when I think I’m getting a clear vision of my need to rest and God’s generous provision for rest, the camera jiggles and the lens slips, and I’m back where I started.
An Old Hymn About Resting
Standing here in 2022, are there relevant lessons about rest for me from a hymn written in 1876? Let’s look at the lyrics from verse 1:
Jesus, I am resting, resting,“Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting”–lyrics by Jean Pigott
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.”
The words are addressed to Jesus, and the focus is joy–joy radiating from his greatness, his love, his beauty, and his power. Some of us are inclined to run to friends with our worries. Others are more likely to draw inward and gnaw on a problem like a dog with a bone. Both approaches are insufficient!
Grown up sons encounter adult-sized challenges, and when I know my kids are concerned about something, my first instinct is to add my worries to the mix. I am learning to refocus that energy into prayer, to address One who is all-powerful, but it’s a continual learning curve.
True rest is found in an outward focus that acknowledges God’s sovereign control and his good intentions toward me and his good intentions toward the people I love–even when his definition of good isn’t lining up with my own.
True rest is found in an outward focus that acknowledges God’s sovereign control and his good intentions toward me and his good intentions toward the people I love–even when his definition of good isn’t lining up with my own.Tweet
Rest in the Midst of a Riot
“Jesus, I Am Resting, Resting” was the favorite hymn of pioneer missionary Hudson Taylor. His tenure in China beginning in the late 1800’s intersected a period of rioting that ultimately culminated in The Boxer Rebellion and many deaths. During one of the riots he was whistling the tune to his favorite hymn when a colleague asked him, “How can you whistle in the midst of so much danger?”
“I roll the burden onto the Lord,” he replied, and in his classic biography (Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret) his son wrote that Taylor “had learned that, for him, only one life was possible – just that blessed life of resting and rejoicing in the Lord under all circumstances, while He dealt with the difficulties inward and outward, great and small”
Rest Yields Transformation and Wholeness
I may imagine that by striving and worrying and scheming solutions I can fix problems and restore peace to the galaxy, but experience is teaching me, as the words to the old hymn testify, it is God’s “transforming power” that makes us whole.
- Are you feeling as if you are in pieces today because of some worry that’s stealing your rest?
- Are you experiencing “the greatness of” God’s loving heart? Or does he seem to be distant–somewhere on the far side of the problem you are trying to solve on your own?
- Would you say that your gaze is fixed upon Christ–or upon your troubles?
- What’s filling your soul these days? Are you making time to focus on God and the beauty of his truth?
Enjoy this simple, straight-forward rendering of the hymn as you consider your answers to these questions and your need for the transforming power of rest:
I may imagine that by striving, worrying or scheming solutions I can fix problems and restore peace to the galaxy. Experience is teaching me, as the words to the old hymn testify, it is God’s “transforming power” that makes us whole.Tweet
And Now, Let’s Talk Books…
And let’s talk about a book on a topic completely UNRELATED and counter-productive to rest!
Celebrities for Jesus
As a content creator, I am, naturally, aware of the people who read my work. Celebrity status is so remote as to be laughable, but even in my little corner of the internet, Facebook nags me to “promote” my posts, and WordPress is compelled to notify me every time a new subscriber shows up. Honestly, I love knowing that my words make a difference, so I can see how the lure of celebrity could become an end in itself.
We’ve all been blessed and encouraged by believers who put their gifts on display to serve kingdom purposes. And we’ve witnessed the crash and burn of Christians who “have reached for the tool of celebrity and found that it isn’t really a tool at all. It has more power over the user than the user has over it.”
In Celebrities for Jesus, Katelyn Beaty asserts that like all of God’s good gifts, the secret to keeping the desire for influence in its rightful place is to hold it loosely. She makes the helpful observation that we are healthier when we look to the virtuous and the exceptional as icons rather than as idols. Idols replace God where icons represent him well.
Our failure to honor this boundary has contributed to the tragedies inherent to the Christian celebrity mindset: “the power without proximity” that attracts a following, deceives the leader (and her followers!), often shields the guilty, and even isolates the celebrity within a lonely spotlight.
Obviously, the book does not extend a solution to the global problem, but does emphasize the importance of accountability, community, simplicity, integrity, and humility as crucial safeguards. Ordinary faithfulness is a healthy posture, and it is, after all, the pattern set by our Savior.
Beaty’s observations are enriched by her roots in evangelical youth culture of the late 90’s and also by the historical details she gleaned through her editorial post with Christianity Today. Whether you regard the concept of “famous Christians” as good, evil, or neutral, their existence reveals something important about the heart of the church that bears examination–and perhaps even repentance.
Whether you regard the concept of #CelebritiesforJesus as good, evil, or neutral their existence reveals something important about the heart of the church that bears examination-and perhaps even repentance. @KatelynBeaty @brazospressTweet
Holding You in the Light,
Free Resource: A Seven-Day Challenge!
A Seven Day Challenge of Scripture and Prayer to Pull You Away from the Fringes
I’ve created a seven-day challenge incorporating daily Scripture and prayer to help you begin moving toward the center of a living and powerful walk with God.
Last winter, I memorized John 15:1-8 and was struck and instructed all over again by the truth of God’s intense longing to be in relationship with me. He wants us! No question about it, but so often we behave as if we don’t want him.
Each day’s brief reading from John 15 is an invitation to abide with Christ, to pull away from the fringes and toward his heart. I’m committed to the truth that women can become confident followers of God and students of his word, and it’s my goal to provide resources to help you along that path. Subscribers receive them automatically, and you can receive your copy by simply entering your email and then clicking on the button below…
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