Although I enjoy lifting my hands and giving my dance to God in praise, I don’t always feel able to. Life is hard and demanding, and while I do my best to lean on God’s strength and operate by His grace and power, I am still human. At the end of my days, I am often weak and weary. Sometimes, I wake up the same.
I remember once being invited to a conference where I’d heard they were known for letting God be God. That sounded so appealing to me. It’s rare to encounter such places anymore – even in my own soul, sometimes…if I’m completely honest. As I prepared for the trip, I imagined all the different ways God might decide to be Himself for me, and my excitement grew.
To my surprise, in the company of hundreds of people, who had traveled from all across the world for this conference – for the same reason I had come – I found myself unable to even lift my hands in worship. It took me by surprise, and I felt quite ashamed, actually. This was the opportunity of a lifetime! I wanted to bring my big praise! But as the masses stood and jumped and shouted and danced, all I could do was stand – sometimes only sit – with my hands hanging down at my own broken side.
I felt tired. Tired from years of trying. My soul was tired. And God, being His gentle and perfectly loving Self, knew it, and made room for me to rest. Not the kind of rest I would have found back at home in my bed, but the kind of rest I could only find in the absence of my effort, in the presence of My Maker.
My worship, my praise during those few days, was composed of grateful tears. And while I sat and wept, others literally slept in the Father’s presence. I was a little offended at first – how could they come halfway across the world to sleep at a conference like this? But God was pleased, I discovered. Of all the places they could have chosen to roll out their sleeping bags (literally!) they chose the one place they knew He would be. I was humbled by such trust, by such rest, and by such love.
God knows we are weak. He expects us to be. In fact, He delights more in our weakness than our strength, and promises that when we allow ourselves to be weak, He will meet us and infuse us with His own strength (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). But while we are still weak, before we experience the rush of His strength, we have permission and room to rest in Him.
In 1 Kings 19, God met a man named Elijah in his despair. God knew this man well. This man had done mighty exploits with and for God. Elijah was a great man of God, but he was also very human, and humans can only take so much disappointment, opposition and difficulty. He had reached his limit, and was not handling his stress well. In fact, he had begun to unravel. He had become despondent and suicidal.
Do you want to know God’s response to his despair? It wasn’t a rebuke. It wasn’t a command to rejoice. It wasn’t even a sermon full of Scriptures. Instead, God sent an angel to cook this tired man a meal, and let him sleep for a long while. God knew he needed rest and encouragement, because his journey had been too much for him. God nursed him back to health, and when the time was right, called him back into the fight.
Take a deep breath in God today. Rest in His faithful, gentle presence. Bring your weariness and brokenness before the Father – Who knows your deepest needs – and just sit, trusting that you don’t have to do anything more than show up. That is an act of praise in itself, and God will not only recognize it, but bless it.
May you take this challenge today and find deep rest for your soul!