It may have had something to do with the busy Christmas season we had just come through.
Or it may have been that as I looked back on some turbulent years for our family, the idea of a year of rest sounded appealing.
The truth is, as we take our first few steps into a new year, none of us knows what the year will hold. It could be one of peace and tranquillity, or it could be the year that leaves us clinging on for dear life as our world spins out of control. None of us thought we would be witnessing the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, resulting in deep unrest and turmoil rippling across the world.
The challenge that came to my heart was this. Can I choose to rest in God this year, no matter what I might face?
Remembering that my life is secure in God's hand. That He is in control and not me.
Can I bring my fears to Him and leave them with Him? Cease trying to solve everything myself.
What will draw me more toward this resting in the Lord?
I think perhaps it will be knowing more of Him.
Last year I thought it would be a good idea to try and read through the Bible in a year. So, I started following a 1-year chronological Bible reading plan. Now, as I write a year later, I am still wading my way through Jeremiah (let’s be real – I was never going to stick to a program all year!). However, despite my falling off the wagon, I really would recommend it. There is something to be gained by reading through the Bible swiftly and seeing how everything fits together.
And, even though I slowed my pace halfway through the year, it has been incredible to me to see God's character jump off the pages of the Old Testament as I followed His interactions with His people from creation all the way to the time of Jeremiah when the Israelites are finally taken into captivity. Often, we think of the God of the Old Testament as harsh and angry, but I was struck by how often we read of God's love and compassion. How we see His heart to be full of mercy and kindness.
God was angry at the evil that was being done. The injustices. The oppression.
“Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16,17)
This is repeated over and over. God's heart is grieved at the evils of this world, the harm we do to one another.
He desires righteousness because He is a God of love. Righteousness isn't just some arbitrary standard that God set up to spoil our fun. It is truly good! Because God is truly good.
The nation of Israel had turned to other gods, and the result was an increase in wickedness and evil. His yearning is for His people to return to Him, to come back to Him – and in so doing to come back to righteousness, love, mercy and rest.
“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it: then you will find rest for your souls.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)
Rest for our souls. That’s what we want this year. No matter what comes.
The more we get to know the character and heart of God, the more we are drawn to rest in Him.
“[Jesus said,] ‘Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’” (Matthew 11:28,29)
May we come to the Saviour, walk alongside Him and learn from Him this year.
And so, find rest for our souls.