Sister to Sister: On Rest

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In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength.
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Dear Sisters in Christ,
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Rest has been a word that God continues to speak to my anxious heart and busy mind. As a student at Cornell University, I daily struggled with rest. And it was through these daily struggles that God taught me the importance of rest. He has revealed to me that in order to rest we must trust Him with our entire being for it is only in God that we find true rest.
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St. Augustine said, "Thou hast formed us for thyself and our hearts are restless till we find rest in Thee." I think this explains why I want to relate with God. When I am not resting in Him, it becomes so easy to forget who God is and who I am in light of that. I begin to put my identity and trust in my work, my success, my personality. I give my heart over to other gods which inevitably fail me, and I find myself working harder and harder for a goal that I cannot achieve on my own. I become stressed; I become anxious; I become restless.
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I never really thought about rest until the second semester of my junior year at Cornell. Until then, I spent many nights getting 3-4-5 hours of sleep a night, and I took pride in that, thinking it meant I was stronger and more capable than others. But then I got sick and found myself stuck on my couch for about a week. My sleepless nights and over-driven work habits had caught up with me. I think God was beginning to show me that I as a person have limits and that I need to trust in Him, the Limitless God. I began to see that trusting Him meant taking time to rest, and thus began a journey--one I am still on today--of learning to rest in God as I trust in Him.
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What does it mean to rest in God? I think resting in God means abiding in God. It means acknowledging that we are constantly within His presence. Psalm 139:7 says, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your Presence?" And Deuteronomy 31:6 says that He will never leave us or forsake us. We are constantly in the presence of God, but I think in order to practice this presence we need daily reminders to acknowledge that His glorious, restful presence is all around us. For me this has meant growing in a discipline of setting aside time to be alone with God daily. I want to spend time in His Word so that I can learn more about who God is and who He has created me to be. It is in these truths that I am reminded of my purpose for the day. It is not to ace my exam, or to be accepted by my friends; it is to worship and glorify God. This helps give perspective to my day, the work I have to do, my relationships, and whatever else might be before me that day. It takes trust to set aside time for Him, but as I spend time with Him, He shows me that He is ultimately trustworthy and cares for me, so I can cast my anxieties on Him. A wise old friend of mine once said that the purpose of a quiet time is to restore our spirit the hight degree of harmony with the Lord's spirit. This harmony is what I call rest.
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I have found that resting in God's presence doesn't stop with a quiet time, but that I must continually acknowledge His presence throughout the day. It has helped me to realize that I cannot compartmentalize God or make time with Him just a priority to check off a to-do list. He is not a part of my life, he is my life, my whole being. Somethings that have helped me to remain in the rest of God throughout the day are scripture memory and prayer. Both help me to meditate on God's truth and to communicate with Him throughout the day.
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I think one big obstacle for many--myself included--in spending time with God is the desire to see results. If we put something in, we expect an outcome. I think this is another area of trust for us. Another friend, when speaking on Psalm 16, said, "If you set the Lord continually before you, He will change you." It might not be right away, but the Lord promises us that if we remain in Him and He in us, that we will bear much fruit. We must trust that He is faithful to His promises.
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Henri Nouwen says, "The discipline of solitude allows us gradually to come in touch with this hopeful presence of God in our lives, and allows us also to taste even now the beginnings of the joy and peace which belong to the new heaven and the new earth." Jesus himself says in John 17:3, "Now this is eternal life: to know You, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." In seeking God and abiding in His presence now, we have access to the greatest gift in all eternity, which is beholding God Himself, and this I believe is the sweetest fruit of all.
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In Christ,
Dahlia
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Dahlia Mayberry is a New Hampshire native who graduated from Cornell University in 2008 with a degree in Nutrition. She is currently working with EDGE Corps, a two-year staffing position with the campus ministry, The Navigators. She loves nutrition and cooking, and plans to pursue her Dietician's License after EDGE Corps.
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Comments

  1. As a sidenote, the author is now engaged. :)

    -katie

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