We just returned from our bi-annual trip to the North Carolina coast. Five years ago we found a lovely little resort in a frantic search for a last-minute vacation. I was desperate for some rest. Since then, we’ve made the 26 hour drive (round trip) twice more for a total of three visits to “our” beach. :)
This year’s trip was particularly restful. I was determined it would be so. You see, two years ago, I ruined the trip – for myself and my husband. Well, we were both pretty ticked when it rained all but the first day. Thirteen hours, after all, is a long time to drive for a rainy beach vacation. But I, in particular, let my inner baby out. I spent most of that week pouting, crying and whining. It wasn’t attractive.
So, this year, I decided before we even left that this would be a good vacation, regardless of weather. We knew heading down that there were a couple of days when the chance for rain was good, if not certain, and we made backup plans for those days. Thanks be to God, we only needed to pull out those plans one half of one day! The remainder of the trip was sunny and beautiful!
We had one of the best family vacations we’ve ever had, so far. And as we headed home I found myself wondering, “How can I maintain these feelings of rest and contentment back at home? Are they only accessible when we disconnect and literally distance ourselves from our everyday life?” I prayed about this last night and felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to read passages in scripture that mention or discuss rest. This morning, the first passage I read was Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” Knowing that one verse alone rarely tells the whole story, I read the entire Psalm. Here it is, taken from Bible Gateway. I encourage you to read it now, making note of a few things: repeated words or phrases, cause & effect, words or phrases that stand out to you. I have made some bold and italic markings in the passage and I’ll explain them below.
37 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
2 For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
7 Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
8 Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
9 For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
11 But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.
12 The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
To slay those who are upright in conduct.
15 Their sword will enter their own heart,
And their bows will be broken.
16 Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
But the Lord sustains the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.
19 They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
20 But the wicked will perish;
And the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures,
They vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
21 The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
But the righteous is gracious and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
But those cursed by Him will be cut off.
23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
25 I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his descendants begging bread.
26 All day long he is gracious and lends,
And his descendants are a blessing.
27 Depart from evil and do good,
So you will abide forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
And dwell in it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
And his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip.
32 The wicked spies upon the righteous
And seeks to kill him.
33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand
Or let him be condemned when he is judged.
34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.
35 I have seen a wicked, violent man
Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil.
36 Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more;
I sought for him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright;
For the man of peace will have a posterity.
38 But transgressors will be altogether destroyed;
The posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in Him.
Some phrases and words that stood out to me in verse 37 (and above marked in italics) were “do not fret…be not envious of wrongdoers” (even supposed wrongdoers) and “cultivate faithfulness” (grow it, feed it, fertilize it, train it; delight in this cultivation, it will lead to rest). From the rest of the passage I noticed the following enemies of rest: jealousy, resentment, anger, wrath and worry (fret). Here, the keys to rest: humility, waiting, trust in the Lord, faithfulness, delight in the Lord, commitment to the Lord, patience, graciousness, generosity, speaking justice and wisdom and taking refuge in Him.
I particularly liked verse 17: “the Lord sustains the righteous.”
The words and phrases that I found repeated throughout the Psalm I marked above in bold. Here, I have listed them individually along with my own train of thought after meditating on each.
- do not fret: when we worry (fret), we jump on a solution, we set about ‘fixing’
- wait: wait on the Lord to show you the way or He may even fix it for you!
- delight: joy, happiness, pleasure in the waiting, knowing the Lord is working on your behalf
- delight (same word, this time from the Lord’s perspective): the Lord also delights in the waiting, in our trusting Him to handle it; whether He ‘fixes’ it or allows us to be strengthened by the experience
- inherit the land: consider the word ‘inherit,’ He will give you what is His – peace, rest, (specific to verse 4) “the desires of your heart”
So, hopefully you can see what I have seen in Psalm 37 regarding rest. 1. DO NOT FRET. :) Easier said than done, but doable nonetheless. It’s repeated several times so, it must be important. Consider a breath prayer in those moments when worry tries to seize you. “Lord, help me,” or “do not fret.” 2. Wait. Be patient and allow the Lord to have the control that is rightly His. “Thy will be done.” 3. Delight. See and experience the happiness (conditional feeling) that comes from waiting and not worrying. See and experience the joy (contentment regardless of circumstance) that comes from waiting and not worrying. 4. Inherit the land. Receive the promise. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I desire rest. I seek to wait and not worry so that I might delight in inheriting the land.