Thursday, September 8, 2011

On Repentence and Rest

            I wasn’t expecting it, that day. I thought I was ready for the start of school, and had carefully chosen books and materials and rearranged the bookshelves. The microscope was set on the library table, the children’s school bins had been cleaned out and refilled with new, patterned notebooks and school supplies, and I’d fed them a protein filled, yummy breakfast before we sat down to work together.
            And yet it came creeping through the day, like a fog, until it nearly engulfed me – the panic and heaviness of worry and self doubt – was I doing this right? Did I choose the right materials for each child? Could I possibly do this – me? Surely God must have me confused with someone else, someone organized and capable and strong. The school day went well and children were tucked in peacefully, yet at bedtime there was my churning stomach and whirling mind, still groping for reassurance and calm. When I reached for the Bible from my bedside table, it fell open to a sticky note in Isaiah that I didn’t remember leaving there, and the underlined verses stood out in the dim light of my late-night bedroom.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy one of Israel, says:

In repentence and rest is your salvation

In quietness and trust is your strength.”

Isaiah 30:15

            It stopped me, that verse, in my tracks. The whirling and churning came to an abrupt halt as I repeated it over, and over, and over. Repentence and rest? Quietness and trust? Where do I stand with these?

We live in such public days, with facebook and blogs and tweets connecting and entertaining us. There are favorite bloggers who lead me to Him, and there's a plethora of advice about homeschooling, adoption and gluten free living online. I’ve spent hours taking in schedules and kitchen remodels, projects and thoughts on life, all accompanied by lovely images, full of color and beauty.

What is missing? The pictures beyond the frame. We feast our eyes on the beautiful, the memorable, the picturesque chosen from dozens of photographs taken. I am guilty – this photo didn’t make it into Migraines and Blessings last week because it showed a perfect view of the scratched floor, and dust and toys scattered under the sofa.

            A few bloggers have shared posts about the gritty – like this must-read, about the difficult days after adoption, and this, one of my favorites, about the ugly-beautiful in life. Mostly, we want to leave our dirty laundry in the hamper, and share the things that are working in our lives. Online, there is a kaleidoscope of beautiful schoolrooms and perfectly organized homeschool schedules, happy families, kitchens scoured and decorated, and cooks who lovingly prepare organic meals. It's the same even in our neighborhoods or churches – we entertain when things are spotless in our homes and our lives, tucking our stories and our messes behind closed doors.

It’s easy for the mind to race to despair, looking around: beds yet to be made, breakfast dishes unwashed, a child who complains or has an outright fit, peeling paint and an army of shoes spread near the front door. In my mind, there swim pictures of beauty and perfection, and there is the feeling that somehow, I am missing the boat. Sigh.

"In repentence and rest is your salvation

In quietness and trust is your strength.”

Repentence. Repentence, when I am feeling insecure?

“An idol,” He whispers, “you’ve made of those images, those standards.”

The perfect curriculum, homeschool, children, housekeeping….none of these are things God has set for me to aspire to. They are inventions of man, made with good intentions, but all, when followed as idols, lead to exhaustion and despair.

Lord, forgive me for giving some things more importance than they warrant, and for forgetting to look to you.

Rest: can I rest in the assurance that God is enough, and that in His strength, we can do this thing, He and I?
"When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet."
Proverbs 3:24

Lord, help me rest in your promises and your presence.

Quietness: can I still my inner thoughts enough to hear His voice, and His guidance on the things that trouble me, or am I searching for other things, other answers that in the end, only make me more anxious?
"Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31

Lord, help me to be quiet and to listen.

Trust: can I trust in the knowledge that He has placed me right where He wants me, as the mother of each particular child he has blessed our family with, and that He will give me the wisdom I need to raise and teach them? Can I trust that He is always here, and always good, regardless of the state of the dishes or dust or attitudes (mine, or the kids')?

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in you."
Isaiah 26:3

Lord, help me to trust more...

"In repentence and rest is your salvation

In quietness and trust is your strength.”

     I repeated the verses all night long, whispered them when I woke briefly in the wee hours, and they were on my lips as dog and I scuffed down the stairs in the morning, rested and quiet, to put the water on for tea.

Trusting in Him,


  1. Thanks, Kim. I realized as I wrote, how very much I love the book of Isaiah and how much comfort it has brought me through the years. Praying for your sweet Noah here.