I wrote this journal entry three months ago on Christmas morning. I share this with you now because it seems like we are collectively where I was three months ago. The storm is beginning to calm a bit in my life just as the storm of this pandemic seems to be picking up. Perhaps this journal entry of mine—my struggle with discovering the true peace and rest that Jesus offers us when we are weary and carrying heavy burdens—will serve you at this time. May you find your peace and rest in the middle of this storm.
December 25, 2019
The past three months have been full of crushing and pressing in many ways for me. On one level I have been leaning on you and looking at how you can use this time to grow me and deepen my relationship with you—even to help others.
But if I am totally honest, deep down I have been resisting your work in me. I have been annoyed that life is difficult. I have been disappointed every time my peace and serenity have been “so rudely” taken from me as a result of circumstances. I have let each of those “interruptions” to my life make me angry and frustrated. I have let them steal my joy and make me stressed.
I have not embraced the crushing, the pressing. I have only wished for it to end so I can be on the other side already. I have not found your rest here in this place. I have consistently pushed away the cup of suffering, refusing to drink it, which has proven to be a futile attempt. It hasn’t let me avoid anything; it has only made me more miserable.
I have been waiting to get out of this place, this situation, so I can finally rest. But I think that’s what’s been bugging me. Your rest is not on the other side of the storm. Your rest is found and is available even in the middle of the storm.
And, furthermore, is it truly your deepest rest if it’s not rest in the midst of the chaos? Can the peace that passes all understanding even be found when everything is going my way? Or is it only discovered when there is nothing external that can calm me, but only you—your voice, your Presence, your Spirit—resting gently against my spirit, holding me tight and comforting me while all of life rages around me.
But I am so tired, and I just want some rest, and I think that’s why the endlessness of the current circumstances has me so incredibly stressed. Because I am in such desperate need of rest.
But I’m learning that your rest doesn’t have to wait.
Can it be that it is only in the crushing and the pressing of life that we truly experience your complete and holy rest? That is, after all, when the wine comes from the grape. That’s when the oil comes flowing from the olive. That’s when the best of Christ was poured out for our salvation. The best of your life came out in the crushing and the pressing.
You are forming me, if I will let you, through this pressing. And it will take as long as it takes. I can’t rush my way through your transformation of me.
I need to learn to let you form me, even in the pressing, so new wine comes forth from me. I need to rest NOW. I need to find your peace and rest and contentment in the middle of the storm.
This is the key: as long as I pine away for the end, I will be miserable. I will be disappointed and frustrated every day the end doesn’t come or a new, unwanted thing happens. But when I realize that you are here and that my circumstances never change that, and that I can find solace in you at any moment, when I allow your Spirit to comfort my anxiety and fear, then I will find your rest. I will embrace the crushing and the pressing, and beautiful new wine will flow from my life.
Forgive me, Lord. May I find my peace and rest in you in all circumstances. May I be steady and consistent, not undone by changing circumstances I can’t control.
Thank you for my life.
Thank you for my calling.
Thank you for new wine.
It doesn’t come without the crushing and the pressing. You found peace even there.
Lead me into that rest.
New Wine by Hillsong United
This Monday, April 6, I will be continuing the conversation online with a discussion about Surrender. I hope you'll join me Monday morning at 11:00 a.m. CST live on the Parkway Heights UMC Facebook page. (Find all past videos at parkwayheights.org/home/videos)