Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: Lessons learned on obeying God's speed limit

Obeying God's Speed Limit
A devotional by Sarah Cole

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 
–Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

I looked at my calendar, and a feeling of dread came over me.

Over the next 24 hours, I planned to host a dinner party, make a meal for a friend, work at my volunteer job, rush to meet a writing deadline, and prepare my house to welcome a new foster puppy.

But when I woke up the following day with a respiratory virus, I realized God used my body to do the very thing I was not willing to do: slow down and rest.

Like many women growing up in today's culture, I was raised to live in the fast lane. My mother taught me to live by a handful of words that would drive me most of my life, and my father teased her for the "shoulds," and "musts" that were commonplace in her vocabulary. But carrying these arbitrary rules into my adult life served to push me beyond the point of exhaustion. And I learned the hard way that the payoff of running on empty wasn't worth the effort.

Perhaps, like me, you've realized that moving full speed ahead to pursue the world's version of abundant life is a recipe for exhaustion and burnout. But the good news is that we don’t have to live this way. When we slow down to God's speed limit, it can feel strange to go against the grain of how our instant gotta-have-it-now society lives, but it's the way He's designed us.

When Jesus walked this earth, He didn't sit on his laurels. But He knew the value of rest, and unlike most of us, He was never in a hurry. After a full day of ministry, He set an example for us by retreating to a quiet place to pray and recharge His batteries (Luke 5:16).

We are no different. If we want to experience the abundant life Jesus promised us, we must surrender our schedules to Him and wait on Him for direction. As our Shepherd, He leads us at His speed because He knows it fits us perfectly (Psalm 23:2-4).

If you're like me and find it challenging to slow down, here are ways to incorporate much-needed rest into your life:

1. Know ahead of time what matters and what doesn't.
By doing so, you manage your to-do list before it manages you.

2. Remember to rest weekly.
When God rested on the seventh day, He set a standard for us to follow (Exodus 20:8-11). Our Omnipotent Creator never grows weary, but He knows we do.

3. Listen to your body. It's God's temple (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Like our cars, our bodies have an internal dashboard. If we choose to ignore its warnings and neglect our need for rest, God knows they'll break down. Depression, pain, anxiety, stress are just some examples of our body's warning system.

4. Create margin in your schedule (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Think of ways to recharge your batteries and try one a week until it becomes a habit. Some ideas are a brisk nature walk, journaling, indulging in a creative hobby you enjoy, watching a movie, taking a bubble bath with scented candles, or curling up with that book you've had your eye on.

When you look at this week's schedule, are you trying to juggle too much or feel uncomfortable unless you are always doing something? That, my friend, is the hamster wheel that keeps you in danger of burning out. But there's hope! Instead of feeling overwhelmed, ask God to help you sort out your priorities and find tangible ways to live by His speed limit.

I promise you that you'll be glad you did.

Let's Pray: Dear God, You are an amazing Father and friend, and we thank you for teaching us the value of rest. When the world tempts us to live at breakneck speed, help us slow down long enough to remember what's truly important, so our lifestyle reflects Your kingdom values. In Jesus's Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Sarah Cole’s interest in writing began in grade school when her poem was published in the local paper. As she got older, her mother’s chronic illness inspired her to design a line of greeting cards. 

Since then, she has written for her college newspaper and two community newspapers where she wrote restaurant reviews and articles for their “Best of” spread.

Her experience as an administrator in the marketing field gave her the opportunity to write ads for a local business journal.

After a 20-year detour and a three-year season of adversity, God reignited her passion to write. Two divine appointments later, the short story she wrote about her father appeared in the St. Paul Almanac, and a short story about her cocker spaniel Gigi was published in Guideposts (magazine) Mysterious Ways. She believes her adversity was worth the lessons God taught her.

During this year (2022) and the next (2023), Sarah’s devotionals will be published in The Secret Place by Judson Press, as well as David C. Cook’s Devotions and The Quiet Hour. To this day, she smiles, pinches herself and gives God all the glory.

When she’s not writing, Sarah enjoys watching cooking shows, designing cards and mugs, and taking day trips.

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