Everything is still and dead. I look out on my backyard and that is what I see. My ferns are brown and droopy and my trees are bare. Had my husband not raked for endless hours, dead leaves would have created a brown carpet over the ground. In the place where the daffodils bloom is a hard bed of earth. Even the birds are eerily quiet and the bugs save their song for another time. Now is the time of year where living things go into dormancy. It’s a time to conserve energy and not fight against the harsh conditions on the outside.
God has built into every living thing a cadence or rhythm of life. Solomon describes it in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.” He is reminding us that the Lord has a specific time for everything that He has called you to do. During this time of year, there are new ministries to join, new classes to take, New Year’s resolutions to accomplish. The idea of “getting back into the swing of things” thrills us. One more meeting? Sure, I need to be there. A playdate? Of course, my children want to see their friends (and so do I). A party to throw? Yes, a friend deserves it. A task to volunteer for? Absolutely, for if I don’t do it, who will?
We are, by nature, brilliant multi-taskers. God has wired within us the ability to accomplish a great deal for our families, our homes, and our community. We are moms, sisters, daughters, students, professionals, makers of the home, and our gift of nurturing is a vital component of who we are. However, as I look out onto my backyard, I see stillness and quietness and a silent preparation for beautiful things to come.
In God’s divine grace and wisdom, there is a time for activity and a time for rest. Rest brings a conservation of energy. In reading about daffodils, I discovered that you are supposed to remove the dead flowers immediately so energy is not wasted in making new seeds that will not develop before the dormant season. I don’t need to remind you that the activities that God has called you to require large amounts energy. Like the daffodil, we cannot afford to waste energy on unnecessary activity. We are finite beings, and it is arrogant of us to believe that our energy is everlasting. That is not God’s design.
In the life of Elijah, there were times of extreme activity. First Kings 17 begins with him predicting a drought to King Ahab. Then, in the midst of the drought he ministers to and rescues a widow and her son from starvation. Then, on behalf of the widow, God uses Elijah again to show His glory and raise the widow’s son from the dead. In a magnificent climax, Elijah calls out the prophets of Baal and, through him, God proves to hundreds upon hundreds that He is the all-powerful, one true God. And finally afterwards, Elijah is the first to notice the rain clouds that bring an end the horrible drought.
It is obvious that God is not against activity. However, let us read between the events. This is why God’s Word is so precious in its entirety; for between the amazing activities of Elijah’s life are periods of mandatory rest.
After Elijah predicted the drought, God commanded him to go and dwell by a brook. He relied on God for even his basic sustenance. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and again in the evening (1 Kings 17:5-7). He stayed there, trusting God for everything until the brook dried up. Can you see that those lessons of patience, trust, and total obedience were paramount for him grasp in order to perform the miracles that were to come? After the victory over the prophets, Elijah was once again driven into the wilderness as he ran from the threats of Jezebel. When he was exhausted and unable to run any longer, he sat down and slept only to be awakened briefly by an angel to give him nourishment. His unplanned yet God-ordained time of rest in the wilderness brought Elijah to a new level of awareness of who God is, for God spoke to Elijah clearly in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). Elijah accomplished everything God had ordained that he accomplish.
In the same way, God has great plans for us and wants to use us mightily, but we must heed his call to rest. It is during the quiet times where God does a mighty work within our own hearts.
I might not know you personally, but I am almost certain that you are a busy lady. However, it is a challenge to me and, I pray, will be a challenge to you to submit our hearts to God’s calling on us to rest. Throughout the next year there will be seasons of activity and opportunities for rest. When God leads you there, embrace the season of stillness and rest. We never know what God will teach us as we lay dormant and conserve our energy for a period. It is there that we will hear His still, small voice. He will tend to us and nourish us spiritually. And only then can we burst out of the ground in a splendor of colors, praising God for his faithfulness and head back into our ministries for the glory of God.