2 Chronicles 14:7, Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the Lord our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered.
The Lord granted Asa rest from his enemies (2 Chronicles, 14:6). God also grants us periods of rest and phases when ‘nothing’ happens. I am so thankful for these moments in my life because God taught me a lot about how to use these times wisely, as a preparation for whatever lies ahead. Let me share with you some thoughts about how to use the periods of rest for our spiritual growth. During the period of rest granted by God, efforts were taken by Asa and his men in Judah to fortify and equip themselves before the enemy attacked. Similarly, we should learn to equip ourselves to face the inevitable spiritual attacks from the enemy, as well as the many storms, difficulties and challenges that arise in life. I believe, the first step towards facing the bad weather is to take refuge in the protective shelter of God, preparing ourselves with His strength. Just as we need “study leaves” in preparation for writing exams in school, we also need time out for ourselves, in reflection of what the Lord wants to teach us. This time covers the following: turning to God’s word, practicing obedience and praying for strength.
- Turn to God’s Word and Rely Upon It
God’s Word is our comfort in times of trouble and the light for our paths (Psalm 119:105). I personally find it very encouraging to look at Jesus and see the importance he placed in knowing the Scriptures. We find an example of this in Matthew 4:1-11, when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Two important points emerge out of these verses:◦ We are better equipped to resist temptation when we know the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit then brings to our minds what we daily learn from God’s Word. So, the next time you are with a friend who indulges in obscene jokes, you might want to remember the verse quoted in Ephesians 5:4, where God clearly instructs you not to engage in “obscene stories, foolish talk and coarse joking.”◦ We can discern for ourselves whether certain Bible verses are manipulated and placed out of context or not. We will be able to tell the right from wrong in our lives and will be able to challenge false teaching instead of being influenced by it.When we are adequately nourished with God’s Word, we will also have plenty to give out to others in our ministry. The most encouraging comfort I have received from God’s people was when they guided me to God’s Word (relevant Scripture verses) for comfort. Moreover, being equipped with the Word of God also helps us to effectively witness to the lost. It helps us to remember relevant Scripture passages and answer their questions that we have thought about in peace and quiet (and had ample time to pray about it) instead of giving an emotionally over-wrought answer which might just turn a lost friend away from God.
- Practice Obeying God
Rooted in God’s Word, we are to live out a life that is in every bit worthy of our high calling following salvation (Ephesians 4:1). In periods when nothing seems to happen and when we don’t seem to be “involved” in much activity in God’s Kingdom or doing anything productive for Him, we should invest our energy into obeying God in every little detail of our lives. We can start by loving people we are in regular contact with. We can show them our love by just picking up the telephone and asking them how they are, praying for and with them, and writing a note of encouragement. Then in hindsight, we will realise that the times we thought were unproductive turned out to be some of the most “fertile” periods in our lives!
- Pray for Strength
Pray for God’s protection and strength to face any challenges in life (Ephesians 6:18). The Bible exhorts us to pray at all times. Now, how is that possible with the innumerable “to-do” lists in our daily schedule? One answer could be found once again in using our ‘preparation times’ to train ourselves to continually talk to God. Since prayer is communication with God, and God is present everywhere, why should we limit ourselves to praying only at certain times and certain places, with eyes closed and hands folded? We can keep our minds focused on God at all times, even while doing the most exciting or the most mundane thing in our daily routine.The key is talking to God from our hearts…asking His opinion for everything. When we are too busy in our ministry or when we are faced with storms in our lives, our minds tend to wander away from God and come to rest upon our own worries and problems. Depression and discouragement set in and they make us wallow in self pity. However, in days when God allows us to have rest and peace, we need to make the most of this opportunity to fill our minds with the thought “God is with us.” This will get us into a habit of talking to God continually which will eventually become for us as natural as breathing.When our heads are cool and our minds are rested, we can think more clearly and rationally. That is why a period of rest would be a great time to invest in learning God’s Word and practising God’s will for our lives. In the midst of temptations and trials, perhaps most of us are prone to relying on our emotions than to see the point that God is trying to get across to us! So, when we feel the heat of temptation rising in us, we should try to rely on the promises of God that we learnt with our cool heads. One big lesson I have learnt from my rest periods is to ‘fortify my town’ (2 Chronicles 14:7), i.e. to build myself up with the Word of God, such that I can be prepared to face the different spiritual and other challenges in life. All this of course with the help of God!
Article used with permission. Paushali is happily married to Mark and together they have five children. Paushali attends Crosslight Baptist Church in Singapore. For more information about Paushali, visit her online ministry at paushalilass.com