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In the summer I work a lot of hours, somewhere in the neighborhood of 60. And they are stressful hours. I have the great blessing and weighty responsibility of directing a summer Day Camp for 440 campers. We have a staff of about 65 college students. The campers, their parents and our staff bring me some of the greatest joy and also some of the biggest struggles and burdens. A couple of weeks ago I was really feeling the weight of work. I was frustrated and exhausted. I dreaded getting up in the morning and spent my drive in to work with my stomach in knots. It is interesting because in the past I would have said that part of the stress came from no one really acknowledging the work that I did, but this year has been different. The people that I would really want to take notice of all of the hard work have noticed. They have expressed their appreciation to me and to our staff. So why was I feeling so stressed? Why was it all such a struggle? Why did I have to force myself out of bed each morning and harder yet, why did I have to force a smile and positive word to all of our staff who were working tirelessly to minister to our campers?
I was exhausted physically and mentally and worse, spiritually. I was exhausted because I wasn’t resting. Oh, I was getting sleep. I would come home every night and practically fall into bed. But there was no rest going on. I was anxious, I was carrying the load myself, I was living under my circumstances. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I just wanted to go home. But, I was home. I wanted to hide, I wanted to escape.
And then I came across a verse in Psalms. It was written at the time that God’s chosen people were returning to their home after years of captivity. It is Psalm 94:22, “But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” For years God’s people were captives, their land and their families had been decimated. Very few had survived the siege that led to their captivity and those that did endured horrors that no one should ever experience. And then, they were homeless. Bound to serve the very people who had destroyed their homes and their families. In that time of captivity they learned that their security, their refuge, their safe place, their fortress was not found in brick and mortar or even flesh and blood, but their safe place was in God. They had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, they had no home, but in that time, God had become their refuge.
Since the day I read Psalm 94:22, I have prayed that verse, over and over again. When I want to run away or hide under my desk or eat a piece or 5 of caramel pie or watch an hour or 12 of Netflix, instead I remember that he is my fortress, he is where I find safety. He is home. God is my refuge. True rest and security are found in him. If I am waiting for my job, the esteem of others, the government or even my family to fill that need in me I will only become more disappointed and more exhausted.
It is ok for me to be tired because in him I find rest (Matthew 11:29). It is ok for me to be discouraged because he is the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3). And it is ok for me to be weak, as a matter of fact it is best for me to be weak so I can find in him perfect strength (2 Corinthians 12:9). There is no reason for me to carry the burden myself because he longs to carry it for me (1 Peter 5:7).
There is a Dixie Chicks song, co-written by Dan Wilson, called Easy Silence. The song is written to a spouse, but I have to admit that this song has been a spiritual encouragement to me many, many times. It perfectly expresses what Psalm 94:22 has meant to me. The chorus is
“Breathe in Sanctuary…in the easy silence that you make for me
It's okay when there's nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay”
“The Lord has become my fortress, and God the rock in whom I take refuge.”
Debbie Dartt Ministries © 2016
"Finding Real Rest"