Rest Stop

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Blink, flash… rumble-rumble. I paused to watch the display in the night sky. Cool air, smelling of rain, drove away the last of the day’s heat. Watching from a distance provided a larger perspective and I considered the power of the storm and the wideness of the heavens. As the storm drew further away, I drew a deep breath and the rain-washed quiet began to draw from mind and body the day’s lingering roar. It was good to stop and rest.

When I find myself caught up in the rush and stress of life, taking time to pause helps both mentally and physically. Can’t you just imagine that “ahh” as you sink into a favorite chair, slide into bed, or arrive home after a long and busy day?! Wherever our “comfort spot” may be, it is a place to rest our soul and calm our spirit for a time.

When the crowd was pressing around Jesus, he too needed a time of rest. For those who wanted to follow him, Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” * Like us in our daily lives, He too had to seek those special times and places alone and in prayer with his Father, God… places of rest and places where daily needs could be met. The book of Mark tells us that the apostles, the followers or disciples of Jesus, had the same challenge and had to be intentional about taking time to rest. After they had shared with Jesus all that they had been doing and teaching, he reminded them of the importance of ‘stepping out of the stream’ for a while. “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while,” Jesus said, “For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So, they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” *

I think sometimes we don’t give ourselves permission to step aside and rest. We are driven by so many things… I pray for you “rest stops” along life’s way. Times of comfort with friends and family. Quiet reflection with God who loves you. A welcome place to pause, stretch your legs, and relax before continuing on.

*Matthew 8:20 & Luke 9:58; Mark 6:31-32

Reflections on Roads

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• Roads are paths of decisions
• Those decisions lead to many destinations
• Consider all that you encounter along the way
• Some ways are direct and easy to traverse
• Sometimes things ahead are stormy
• It’s hard to see beauty when moving through our storms
• Potholes and cracks develop from stressful situations
• Remembering our origination can help us persevere
• Roadside stops are helpful to the traveler
• Moving along accustomed routes may give a sense of stability
• Sometimes we get stuck or lost and miss the alternate routes
• Whether through wilderness or quiet streets… we seek clear ways

Reflections on Dishcloths

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• We may become stiff and dry from the rigors of life
• The warmth and compassion of others can restore and renew
• A friend who listens is like a welcome scrub
• Scrubbing helps clear away dirt and accumulated grime
• Rinse away stress and fatigue
• Rest after a job well done
• We can become musty from disuse
• Putting your skills to good use is satisfying
• A worn cloth is full of memories
• Warm companionship and thoughtful service transform

 

Reflections on Rubber Bands

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• Sometimes we feel a little stretched
• Stretching can be good
• Over-stretching can have negative results
• It is good to be flexible
• Flexibility eases stress
• There are times to let things rest
• Letting go can hurt
• We often take each other for granted
• We each fit different tasks
• Rubber bands hold things together
• Mutual support brings greater enjoyment
• We were each specially crafted by the Maker

 

Reflections on Shoes

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• We all come in different sizes, styles, and colors.
• We are made for different purposes.
• Our character is revealed in the way we live.
• The way we live can add positive fun and enjoyment to life.
• Take steps to protect yourself from unforeseen injury on your journey.
• Sometimes we travel through messy places.
• When traveling through messy places, we may become stinky and dirty.
• When we become stinky and dirty, a thorough cleaning is advised.
• After a long day, removing stress and worries brings relief.
• Stress and worries should be given to the Master Shoemaker.
• The Master Shoemaker creates, repairs, and refurbishes us.

REFUGE

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Have you ever noticed how a mother bird will spread her wings over her chicks to provide protection and to hide them from the eyes of predators? That space under the shadow of her wings is a refuge, a place of safety and comfort. The chicks trust the hen and so they stay close-by and are nurtured, protected, and guided.

What a powerful image that is for us when we feel overwhelmed, attacked, or swallowed by grief and despair! In the books of Ruth and Psalms, God is a loving protector who gathers us in the shadow of His wings. Like the chicks, we are His children, knowing our own weakness and need. When we come to Him, He offers us a place of security.

Ruth realized that her mother-in-law Naomi had something special; she came to God when all seemed lost. The psalmist said, “Hey, this is a good thing! I’m going to stay here with God forever, walking close-by and covered when times are tough!”

How easy it can be to wander off. Jesus lamented, grieved deeply, for the people of Jerusalem who had turned away those God had sent. “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37 & Luke 13:34). At times my own thoughts churn endlessly, stressing over a day’s events or unresolved issues and troubles. This image of God surrounding us with His sheltering wings provides comfort, security, and hope for everyone and reminds us to stay close to Him.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

Refresh!

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Refresh! … From this word springs images of renewal, encouragement, restoration, provision, and rest. It has even made its way to our keyboard to indicate updates of new data and information, an affirmation of changes made. When we are refreshed we are energized, our minds and bodies cooled from stress or labor, and we are then able to continue forward with greater purpose and confidence.

I enjoy doing yardwork… mowing, trimming, and especially caring for flower, herb, or vegetable gardens. The work itself is a time of refreshment from the weekly chores and responsibilities, a time to engage mind and body in something else and for quiet reflection or companionable activity. A cool splash of water to my face… a drink to quench my thirst… and a shower when all is completed also offer refreshment.

Other thoughts come to mind as well. “Refresh my memory” we may request when a bit of a jog is needed and “refreshments’ are served at gatherings, breaks during meetings, or other times of fellowship. We are refreshed during times of vacation.

Paul’s letter to Philemon and the church which met in Philemon’s home is a wonderfully short letter written out of love and concern for fellow believers. From this letter, we gain additional thought about our need to both be refreshed and offer refreshment.

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people… I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.

How often in my busy life do I overlook the opportunity to refresh someone, to offer them love and encouragement?! This is a gift we can all give and is one we also appreciate receiving. Paul let his need to be refreshed be known. A listening ear, a smile and word of appreciation, a touch, and a helping hand… these are simple expressions of God’s own love for each of us. They are a commitment to extend both grace and compassion. In this we refresh the very hearts of others, a deep-down satisfying soul-restoring drink.

For they refreshed my spirit and yours also…
1 Corinthians 16:18