A week ago Monday I helped a friend pack up to move out of her house. My wife and I had driven two hours south with our new puppy (who gets carsick) and the grandkids a few days prior, but this time I went by myself, taking my truck with an 8-foot bed, planning to arrive early in the day and come home late to get a ton of work done. On the ride down I listened to a message titled The Body of A God Part 1 by Silas Valentine of Ekstasis Culture. He covered a number of things in this message, but the main point I took out of it at that time was to learn to rest in God—that I can do work without it being toil, and that as I focus on remaining in communion with God and let Him help me perform tasks with joy, I can live in peace. Well, this day was a great day to put it into practice.
The day started out well, with a very enjoyable and peaceful drive. I arrived at my friend’s and got to see another old friend who had come up from California, and that was great. I loaded up my truck with recycling, drove to the local dump . . . and it was closed. Because apparently they are closed every Monday, opting (wisely) to be open on Saturday instead. Well, I asked in the office and the only place open was a dump just shy of an hour away. I drove back to the house, unloaded the recycling, loaded the Goodwill donations and dropped them off, rented a Uhaul trailer, hooked it up and drove back to the house, loaded the trash, recycling, old tires, and some more Goodwill donations, and headed off to make my rounds once more.
This entire time I was enjoying resting in God. Things could have gotten stressful at a number of points, but I found I was not only doing quite well, but was free to encourage others as well. I dropped off the donations and tires, then realized I forgot some trash, so headed back to the house to pick it up before driving to the dump. It was around 4pm when I made it back to the house, and while the dump was an hour away, it closed at six. I walked in the house, asked for a hand loading something, and one of the women asked “How are you going to make it to the dump in time?”
“It closes at six, so I’ve got lots of time.”
“No, it closes at five.”
Silence. . .
I turned and ran out of the house as I yelled something like “If I go quickly maybe I can make it!” I didn’t come close. I even had someone call the dump and ask them to stay open late on a mercy-mission to help us since I was on the way. No-go. I stopped partway at an always-open recycling center to at least offload the recycling, then planned to take the rest of the trash back to Portland with me to dump on Tuesday. I was still doing okay, and remaining in rest. However, the things I picked up at the house on that last trip back made the trailer just full enough that when I offloaded the recycling I didn’t have enough room in my truck (which has a cap on the bed). I spent the next hour or so rifling through the bags of trash in my truck, pulling out every recyclable item I could find and tossing it in order to make room. I kind of lost it at this point. I called my wife, not knowing what to do since I was supposed to come home that evening, it was already almost 7pm. I had borrowed an adapter for the electrical system on the Uhaul and had to return it to the rental location, so couldn’t come home with the trailer.
My wife is one of the most caring people I know. She could tell I was super-stressed at this point (and that whole “rest in God thing was totally out the window by now), and just told me to stay the night. I stopped at a store and picked up a cheap t-shirt on my way to get some pizzas and meet everyone else back at the house to continue working and eventually go to sleep.
I dumped the trash the next morning and returned the Uhaul before it was due and everything worked out, but I learned a valuable lesson. Life was SO much easier when I remained in God’s rest. And a day or two later I was stressing about chores we needed to do at home, and again reflected on how I was living completely outside of that rest yet again. By no means do I pretend to have arrived, but I have had some pretty clear object lessons this past week or so that have taught me the importance of learning this. As we learn to enter into God’s rest, living in His peace and joy even while we work, we will never live under the curse which forces us to toil. This is a reality that God has for us here and now. I saw a glimpse of what Paul said in Philippians 4:11, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
I pray God teaches each of us to enter into His rest in a deeper way on a daily basis, that we may enjoy His presence and peace always.