Coaching school was our annual marking for the end of summer even though we are fully aware that August is still considered summer everywhere else. Football coaches in Texas uses a different calendar than the rest of the world. Our spring/summer schedule gives us a bookend of football in May and August...which makes June and July our "time off". I bracket that on purpose as Wayne still has to be at school all of June, but the hours are nothing like they are during the school year, so it counts!
But July, as you can tell from recent posts, is a different life. Wayne is truly off and we are gone, gone, gone...a year's worth of vacation in four weeks! And as an extra grace from God Wayne has had some extra days off on weekends! That's truly unusual and such a blessing. We've put the time to good use by sitting, hanging out, playing and relaxing! All things that were much more difficult for us before we understood what was coming in August and the start of two-a-days...more commonly known around here as the "all-days."
This has reminded me of a truth that God impressed on me years ago about times of rest. I touched on a specific application of it in this recent post. The history is that I used to be of the mind that times of rest were for recovery from work...what that meant for my spiritual life was that weekends, summer time, holidays, etc. became times when I put away the discipline of prayer and scripture and meditation on God...you know, I "rested". I couldn't have a worse definition if I tried.
It all depends on what you think of as rest and how you define work. The last one shouldn't be hard...work is just what we think it is. Merriam-Webster says:
1: activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something: a: sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result b: the labor, task, or duty that is one's accustomed means of livelihood c: a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being a part or phase of some larger activityWhen defined this way, rest is also easy to define. It's when you have freedom from work. But how did meeting with God become work in my mind so that I actually wanted freedom from it? Look at the words used above...task, duty, assignment, mental effort, labor. Ever feel like that when faced with your quiet time...with thinking about doing your Bible study...when feeling guilty about your prayer life? Yeah. Me, too.
This has all hit home for me again as I am in the middle of helping Aisley train for upcoming volleyball try-outs. (Well, helping Aisley would imply that she wants to train. How about...I'm in the middle of making Aisley train? Yeah. That's more accurate.) She is not having the greatest time in her life. She is tired of getting up early. Hates that her body is sore. Usually feels like she can't run more than 1 minute at a time. Isn't a huge fan of drills. But Aisley isn't so much a vocal complainer. She's more the sighing, grunting, sullen one.
She has much more fun babysitting the Tibbetts' boys!
But it hits me every day we're out there that compared to what she's done this summer, this is nothing. I heard no complaints from her about getting up earlier than ever to go to Six Flags. No whining about how many steps we climbed getting to the top of that boat house. She was so sore after days of swimming and inner tubing, but not a word. We walked and walked, literally miles, some days this summer. We even ran with nothing but smiles. No moaning. Why not? What difference does it make where you are or what you're doing? Running is running. Right?
Well, you know the answer to that. Aisley isn't different than me. It's just that I don't count as work what brings me pleasure. She might say to me, Well, of course I didn't mind climbing those stairs. That was different. That was to get somewhere so we could have fun. The destination and purpose changes perspective. What is work in one place becomes joy in another...almost restful, in fact.
You get where I'm going already. What happens through my days with God is that I lose sight of joy. Spending time in the Word and in prayer becomes what I have to do, instead of what I get to do. I forget that I'm not just out for a walk. I'm here to get to God! He is the highest source of pleasure. My greatest joy. My deepest rest. My soul's satisfaction. The funnest place on earth isn't Disney World. It is found with God.
The fight of my life is to believe that with everything I am. A friend commented on another posting this quote from John Piper. It sums up everything I'm praying for Aisley and I today...
Jesus said in John 6:35, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.' In other words what it means to believe in Jesus is to experience him as the satisfaction of my soul's thrist and my heart's hunger. Faith is the experience of contentment in Jesus. The fight of faith is the fight to keep your heart contented in Christ--to really believe, and keep on believing, that he will meet every need and satisfy every longing."To really believe and keep on believing"...that's it, isn't it? God is the fullness of rest. Christ is the one who labored. Now He has sat down at the right hand of the Father...telling me that the work is done. Now I must fight only to believe it.
Rather than granting rest, my time away pulled me from the only true rest my life has.