Call it a flaw, a problem, whatever, but here's a confession: I kind of struggle with the idea of vacation. I have never been a huge fan because honestly sitting around for seven days with no real purpose in the day tends to stress me out. Don’t get me wrong, I always start out with a positive attitude, but a few hours in, I am beginning to wonder what I can do. I want to DO something.
Before you start thinking that I am bragging about being some kind of passionate advocate who is so passionate she can’t even take a break, I'll tell you that I’m aware that this is a personality flaw. Yeah, I can snap into productivity mode chugging coffee and typing like fire and thats fine and good, but when it comes time to rest I struggle to shut it off.
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..." Isaiah 30:15
I read verses like this and try to skim over them. But they keep coming up.
I read over and over again words like trust, love, humbleness, rest, and peace.
I have spend the past few months seeing these words pop up every where. Verses like these seem to be chasing me, but it hasn’t been until recently that I stopped to soak in what those words really mean.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength, that we despaired of life itself; indeed, we had the sentence of death. But this happened so that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. 1 Corinthians 1:8
Trust and love and humblenness and rest and peace… those things don’t flow from an anxious busy mind guided by a detailed to do list and calendar with every moment meticulously planned. They come from times of slowness. Times that to me seem purposeless.
I think we all come to those times. Honestly, I think God brings us to those times out of grace, in order to show us rest. For some people maybe it's tired nights at home after work when your far too tired to go out or an unscheduled Friday night that leaves you lonely. Maybe its waking up an hour before your alarm clock or being unable to go to sleep at night—it’s in those times of quietness we can worry and fret and search for something to do or feel plain guilty about doing nothing.
Or we can choose to rest.
We can choose to soak in truth from the one who holds all things; we can surrender our worries to the one who controls all.
“From the end of the earth will I cry to thee. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
We shouldn’t have to lie to ourselves and say that everything is good--that life is perfect and we understand exactly where we are going. I think we find rest in brokenness, in confusion, and in chaos. What good is peace anyways if it only comes when times are good? I want a peace and rest that is higher than me. A peace that is higher than my mistakes, my shortcomings and this chaotic life.
Sometimes purpose is so easy to see. Sometimes its easy to carry out, and sometimes its difficult… but as long as you can see it, you can find some motivation for your toil then somehow it seems doable, worth it. What do you do when finding it is like looking for an end to the ocean?
This summer I went to Honduras with an idea of what my purpose would be: writing, loving on some kids, and encouraging the staff but then my brand new computer crashed, our internet wouldn't work, and I started to feel empty and in need of the love and encouragement I was supposed to be giving. In the midst, I still had a purpose…. it just changed a little.
As I look back on each an every situation and season, I can watch the story connect. There has always been a purpose—in the situations when the only word you can cry out is “why?” and on the days that rain down beauty and blessings.
Here in Costa Rica I have spent too much time asking “why?” Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful to be here and have learned more than I ever imagined possible. I’m floored by the vast beauty that screams the name of its perfect artist. I’m humbled as I have gone from an educated student to speaking in a new language with the vocabulary of a 5-year-old. I’m amazed by people who have welcomed me into their homes, cooked me food, and filled me with love. I’m thankful for a little church I found in a library, full of international Spanglish-speaking misfits, yet some of the most honest, loving people I have ever met. I’m grateful for downtown exploring and city busses that never seemed to end up in the right place. I’m thankful for friends, new and old who have taught me more than I could ever have imagined.
Some days I have wondered what I’m doing with my life. What on earth possessed me to leave for so long and go to a place I didn't really know anything about. I wonder what I am supposed to do without a job, a place to volunteer, family, or friends.
I’m sure you would imagine I sit on the beach all day, but surprisingly enough I spend my days in classes, struggling in a subject I used to think I was good at.
I still believe there is always a purpose. The purpose is usually strongest when it seems invisible.