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Mountaintop Rest

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A few weeks ago I was teaching my 2-year-old daughter on the importance of sleep and rest. As I was reading her a book about rest, I realized how badly I needed this lesson myself.

Recently becoming a mother of two under two, my friends and family (and myself) have given me more than enough preaching on the subject of getting enough sleep at night. The well-known rules include not staying up late, not having caffeine too close to bedtime, nap whenever possible, etc.

However, the aspects and qualities of rest are laid aside and forgotten. I’m not talking about laziness; I’m talking about essential down-time — relaxation — getting away from the craziness of everyday life.

Why is it so hard to find time to relax? The answer: It’s simply not high on our priority list. In fact, I don’t think it’s been on my list at all.

The irony of it is, although my kids and husband are my top priority, they are the very ones that suffer from me not allowing myself to rest. If I haven’t gotten away in a while, I’ll feel like I’m going crazy. I’ll have a short temper and snap at my kids for not having patience, when in reality it’s me that has no patience for them. Or I’ll take everything my husband says personally, and suddenly I’ll lash back at him, making him out to be the bad guy. Or I won’t be able to handle the stressful moments and I’ll just feel like screaming at the top of my lungs.

The saying is true, “Happy wife, happy life,” and therefore making the opposite true, “Crabby wife, crappy life.” I think it’s time to make rest important in my life, even if I must take it by force.

I’ve been reminded recently of what Jesus said about resting. He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

It’s interesting that He didn’t say, “You won’t have to carry any burdens.” He actually wants us to carry burdens. But they’re not the world’s kind of burdens; burdens that weigh us down and crush our body and soul. He wants to replace our earthly burdens with His Heavenly burdens — desire for the lost to come to know Him as we do, hunger for His truth, thirst for His living water (the Holy Spirit), desire for more understanding of His love, freedom to do and not just don’t, freedom to embrace and enjoy the life He’s given to us.

His burden is “easy and light,” and frees us from the cares of this world. I don’t need to focus on how awful the day has been going, how needy the kids have been, or how my husband doesn’t seem to be helping enough. I’m free to think Heavenly thoughts — that I love my family, that I’m thankful to have them in my life, that my husband is always looking for ways to help me and show that he loves me, that my kids bring me so much joy every day, that my family is safe and sound, that I’m so blessed to be a stay-at-home mom, that we’ll all be together forever in a kingdom that will never pass away.

Recently I’ve been reading through the gospels chronologically, and I’ve noticed something new. Jesus went away from the crowds to be alone on a mountaintop several times. He must have known how important it was to get away from it all. What’s more is that He thought it important enough to show the world, through Scripture, that He did it Himself — Jesus, the Son of God. And that He did it more than once.

In fact, God was the very one that established the rule of rest. God Himself rested after creating the world. He even made it a commandment for everyone else to do so every seventh day. He also made it law for the Israelites to rest their land every seventh year and to put to rest (forgive) any debt anyone owed them.

More importantly than resting our bodies, God made it clear through His Word that we need spiritual rest. We don’t need empty, meaningless meditation that leaves a void in us through which darkness can easily abide in. We need God to fulfill us, flow His living water through us, pour out His love into us, and transform us into who He wants us to be. He wants us to come away with Him to know Him better. He wants us to get away whenever we can to the mountaintop to spend time with Him there.

Mountains are very significant in Scripture. Jesus went away to rest on mountains; Peter and John saw Jesus transfigure on a mountain; Elijah heard God’s still, small voice on a mountain; Moses received the Ten Commandments, heard God speak to him from a burning bush, and even saw God pass by when he was on the mountain.

I used to have a literal mountain to go to, since I used to live on one, in Christiana, Jamaica. I had my devotions early in the morning, while the mountain mist still lingered. I loved the fresh mountain air that seemed to seep through my being, renewing my mind and spirit.

The thing is, everyone has to come down from their mountain at some point. I literally had to leave my mountain to come back to the States to go to college. Since then, getting away and finding a good resting place has never been the same. I’ve had to be more creative. In the dorms it would mean taking advantage of unoccupied study or prayer rooms or finding a nice tree to sit under on a warm day. When I lived in an apartment in my last year of college it meant sitting out on the balcony that overlooked the trees. Then after getting married and having a full-time job it meant spending some alone time with God before the sun rose, along with a hot cup of tea.

Now, with two toddlers who wake me up every morning, who don’t always nap at the same time, and who leave me exhausted emotionally and physically by the time they’re in bed for the night, I’ve simply lost the ambition to even try to make time for rest. I hardly know what it’s like to have alone time anymore.

However, I am beginning to realize that the lack of rest and getting away has taken a toll on me spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

So I’ve decided to set some rules for myself:

  • Say “no” to things/people every now and then. The world won’t fall apart if I do.
  • Say “yes” when someone offers help with housework or watching the kids (surprisingly, this is not always easy for me to do).
  • Play worship music to sing and/or dance to every morning, which will help set a positive mood for the day.
  • Memorize a Scripture verse each week, not for extra work, but for a reminder to release my cares to God and to focus on pleasing Him, and to “come away with Him” in my mind.
  • Read the Bible every night in bed so that I fall asleep with my thoughts on God’s truth and His love for me.
  • Have a hot bath once a week, complete with bath salts, candles, lotions, and soft music. This is mandatory.
  • Physically get away, whether alone or with a friend, whenever possible.

This is obviously not going to be what a typical mountaintop looks like. Everyone’s mountaintops are unique, and change often with the various seasons in life. The key is to make it important and to take the opportunities to rest whenever possible.

I’m so glad I decided to have that “rest” lesson with my daughter. More than likely, I got more out of it than she did! I had needed a good reminder to make rest a priority. I think we all do.

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Growing up first as a pastor's kid in Wisconsin, then as a missionary's kid in Jamaica, Darla Brown has made a loving home with her husband and two daughters in the middle of the two, in Springfield, Missouri. When she's not running around with a baby and a toddler, she's reading, writing, or enjoying a cup of chai with friends. As she also enjoys drawing and painting, her dream is to write children's books and illustrate them herself. Never satisfied with her spiritual state, she desires more of God and to be all that He wants her to be.

2 Comments
  • I love this article, because I’m coming out of a very busy season of packed weekends for weeks on end, not to mention a husband traveling out of town. I really do have to make time to rest or I won’t, and it’s important to me. I think all of us need time to do that, some of us need more than others. I’m happy to say though, even though it’s Father’s Day, I was able to go walking/running on a local trail and it felt so good. Really rejuvenated my spirit!

  • Bennet Barlean

    Wow. I loved this article. I so needed to hear/read that. I don’t think I’ve taken any time for myself in the last 30+ years and it has definitely taken it’s toll on me and my family. Thank you for reminding me to set goals for myself and find that “mountaintop”, a place to find rest and to commune with the Lord. So grateful.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Mountaintop Rest

by Darla Brown time to read: 6 min
2