Friday, October 29, 2010

Resting & Running

So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who enter into God’s rest will find rest from their labors… Let us do our best to enter that place of rest.
[Hebrews 4:9-11a NLT]

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.
[Psalm 27:4 NIV]

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” [Psalm 46:10 NIV]

The following is another point from my “spiritual interpretation” of the movie “Secretariat” (see last week’s posting “Free to Run!”) – I thought this important subject deserved its own posting:

After Secretariat won the 1973 Preakness (2nd race of the Triple Crown), trainer Lucien Laurin had to decide whether the horse needed to rest or run in preparation for the final race at Belmont. In the movie, Laurin tells owner Penny Chenery that, while either choice was arguably a good one, choosing the wrong strategy for that particular racehorse at that particular moment could have been disastrous. History proves that Laurin made the right decision by continuing to let Secretariat run hard each day leading up to his record-breaking Triple Crown victory at Belmont.

“Resting & Running” in Christ takes more than just natural wisdom, which tells us we all need physical and psychological rest – adequate sleep at night, a vacation once in a while, and a healthy balance of work and play - along with discipline & hard work, to do our best. Spiritual “rest” has to do with refraining from our own efforts, and consecrating our time to focus on intimacy with God. A classic example of this kind of “rest” is Mary of Bethany, who put listening to Jesus first, unlike her sister Martha, who was busy and distracted [Luke 10:38-42, also see blog link at the end of this posting]. When we take time and make room in our lives for spiritual rest, we hear God’s heartbeat, and He releases us to run with Him – sometimes with miraculous results.

I was reminded of another “horse story” as I prepared to write this posting – a vision of missions I heard Heidi Baker share at a 2005 conference called “Show Me Your Glory.” Heidi said she saw the saints of God (“saints” meaning “holy believers” - people who have given their lives to Jesus Christ), seated two-by-two in horse-driven chariots, ready to go all over the world - and Jesus was holding all the reins. She said these people were transparent, and they had huge hearts which completely filled their chests, and their hearts were beating in rhythm with the heartbeat of Jesus.

During that service, I was lying on the carpet in front of the altar, “resting in the Lord,” after graduating from a one-week “Soaking Prayer School” earlier that evening. I felt as if the presence of God rested on us like a warm blanket while Heidi spoke. When she got to the “altar call” (I was already there :)), she asked: “Who will get in the chariots of the Lord and go wherever He tells you, letting Jesus hold all the reins?” I was feeling so cozy and close to God, I responded happily, “I will!” As I write this, I have to laugh, because in 2008-2009 I went on mission trips to 9 countries in 18 months! I remember losing focus for one weary moment just before the last trip – and it seemed like the Lord reminded me, with a smile, how I’d volunteered at that altar in 2005!

So how do we know when to rest and when to run? "Running a victorious race" in Christ begins with intimacy in prayer, worship, spending time with God, meditating on His Word, soaking in His Presence and drinking of His Spirit. Quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, Jesus said that loving God with all of your heart, soul and strength is the first and greatest commandment [Mt 22:34-40, Mk 12:28-34; Rev 2:1-7]. Heidi Baker says it this way: “Fruitfulness flows out of intimacy.” Snuggled in close to His chest, we hear God’s heartbeat for ourselves and others; from there, we move out in His grace, to accomplish extraordinary things, both great and small. Saturated in His Presence, we become “the fragrance of Christ” to a lost and dying world.

Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
[John 12:3 NIV]
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
[2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NIV]

Spiritual rest and spiritual running can seem wildly impractical to the flesh or natural mind, which values human reasoning and self-protection, "the things of men" more than "the things of God" [Isaiah 55:8-9, Mt 16:23, Mk 8:33]. Spending time in His presence – worshipping and waiting on Him - when there’s so much to be done (even, in human religious terms, “for Him”), can seem like a lavish, extravagant waste of time. Likewise the risks, expenses, real and imagined dangers of bringing His light into dark places – whether across the street or across the world. How does it "make sense" to be a missionary, or a preacher, or just to "smell like Jesus" around people who don't know Him (yet)? 9 countries in 18 months might be a little bit crazy, unless God sends you. Do we think like Judas, who complained about the cost of Mary's perfume? or will we "waste" ourselves on God so He can lavish His Love in us, on us, and through us to the world?
If Lucien Laurin had made the wrong decision, Secretariat could have been injured, lost the race, or even died of a heart attack – Penny Chenery would have lost her farm, her family, and everything she owned. I’m not attributing their choices to God, I’m just saying: I’m inspired to believe that God can put impractical, “impossible” things in our hearts, and give us the grace and strength to fulfill His glorious plans in our lives. Are we resting and running with Him? Victorious Christian living flows out of intimacy with God, dwelling in the secret place of His heart, then running forward at His command, refreshed and carrying His Presence.
Lover: You who dwell in the gardens with friends in attendance, let me hear your voice!
Beloved: Come away, my lover, and be like a gazelle
or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains.
[Song of Solomon 8:13-14 NIV]

“Untame My Heart” - Song by Jessie Rogers

Untame my heart
Cause me to run wild and free
In the love You have for me.
Open my eyes
Let me look upon Your beauty
As if it was the first time
I'd seen it.
Let me see You again
Let me love You
Like I used to
Renew my mind
To the way it was before
Oh, my Lord, I want to think about You
All the time.
Capture my gaze
Be my only Love and my true Passion
If only I could ask You this one thing:
Let me worship You forever
Let me dwell with You
All of my days

And dance with me again
Let the angels tell each other
Heaven's playing our song
Wrap me in Your arms
Sweep me off my feet into Your presence
Ravished by You
Ravished by You

Unveil my face
Offer Your hands to me my Bridegroom
Take me back to Your place

And dance with me again
Let the angels tell each other
Heaven's playing our song
Wrap me in Your arms
Sweep me off my feet into Your presence
Ravished by You
Ravished by You

While I was googling the song “Untame My Heart” (didn’t find any free audio), I came across a blog that used these lyrics as a starting point for some simple, honest & (I thought) pretty cool remarks about experiencing a more intimate relationship with God. I don’t know the author, I just read this one posting as God was touching my heart through the song and restoring my “first love” for Jesus. Here’s the link (the article starts below the song lyrics):

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