10 years ago I walked into a church for the first time in many, many years. At this time I had never “read” the Bible. Being brought up as a good Catholic girl, I was familiar with the new testament – well maybe not all the letters or revelation – and had a passing acquaintance with the main OT stories, but had not read most of the Pentateuch or Psalms, or Proverbs, etc
It was daunting to say the least. With my pastor’s support (massive thanks to him) and a “Read the Bible in a year” guide (given to me by my church) I got started. Took me over 3 years ….. (more on that later).
Certain words grabbed my attention as I started to read. The first of these was “Trust“…..
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
In the amplified Bible this verse conveys anticipation:
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.
But I struggled with this – what did it mean to trust in God? I am a scientist by nature and I trust that which I can see materially or have empirical evidence for. By nature God is unknown and unknowable.
I contemplated trust whilst I ploughed through the Deuteronomy, Numbers, Leviticus – trying not to fall asleep over my Bible.
My next “instruction” was to wait exemplified by one of my favourite Bible verses, Isaiah 40:31.
Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
The amplified Bible again conveys the idea of anticipation and also that waiting is not passive:
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.
While I was still trying to get my head around trusting and waiting my next word was given – Rest. This seemed like a great idea – lean back against the Lord and just chill out, or maybe not. Another favourite verse comes to mind many, many times when I feel in need of rest, Matthew 11:28:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
However, Matthew 11:29-30 goes on ..
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The Amplified Bible does not suggest stopping all activity, we are to take up the “yoke” that Jesus gives us, in the knowledge that He will enable us to carry it.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
In other contexts a resting place is very much envisaged as a place of reward from righteous labour.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
My final word in the sequence was Work. at this point it started to make sense. Before I could work for the Lord I needed to understand what He wanted me to work at. This required being still, listening to Him, resting in His presence and trusting Him to lead me on the right path.
Work is something that we are all called to do. In Genesis 2:15 God “put him [Adam] into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” We are made Imago Deo – in God’s image – our work is thus a reflection of His work as is our rest.
5 years ago I had a period of prolonged illness which forced me to do nothing for most of the day (rest) – that was when I finished “the Bible in a year”. I learned that resting in God was truly not passive, it was a time of enormous growth in my Faith.
I see these words as a cycle in my growth. At any time I may be in a place where I really need to just trust even though I can’t see where I’m being lead! I may need to wait for instruction or to rest and learn in His presence (like Mary), or to get to work (like Martha).