Restless Tonight

I’m restless tonight. My mind won’t turn off; I have been spending time consumed with analyzing things in my life that should be simply glossed over.

I’m consumed with being successful. I want to make an impact and be good at what I do. I want to be an expert, yet I find myself only becoming more and more of a generalist every day. It comes with hard work – you have very little time to focus in on one thing for very long.

So this long road circles back again to this mind and this bed being very ill at ease with each other. This is not neurotic; it’s cyclical. But I still think it’s far too human to be crazy.

The balance of my life confirms this rationale. I have repeatedly been a slave-driver to myself, prodding, whipping and demanding of myself labor, intense and unrelenting. To make these matters worse, I then treat myself poorly by fixating on the three things I didn’t do well or did without intention that I can’t sleep, instead of the countless blessings I’ve been given.

The third leg, or the result of this self-imposition, is physically mistreating my body. I eat too much, maybe drink more than I should, stay up late, and THEN apply the same strict code to decompress. When that doesn’t work quite as quickly as I’d like, if I am wound too tight, then I wind back up in my mind’s halls searching for the door out. I push myself to find peace from God, as if it were not already mine. I search for the passage to make everything “alright.”

Christians have a tendency to focus so much on ourselves for so l long that we lose focus on Christ. Instead of sleeping in our beds, we rehash our shortfalls and actually actively despair of ourselves. We get into the boat, strain at the oars of life until we are blinded by fatigue, then we wonder why we are so preoccupied – why the peace we long for is so allusive. The challenge for faith – knowing we are at peace with God because of Jesus’ redemption.

God created us male and female to live together with him and rule all of creation. We lost that because of sin and so we live in a world that glorifies self, avoids God, and trends toward evil.

It’s no wonder why I get to feeling like this sometimes. We inherited a sinful nature from our parents that is naturally hostile to God. Talk about ironic: we are born with a nature that HATES the God of love.

Through the gift of faith we are called sons and daughters of God. Yet, we still have the sinful nature and evil tendencies. One of which is the reason why I’m restless tonight: I have focused far too long and hard on me. In the end all you will find is despair.

One of our greatest misunderstandings is the idea that we can approach God in the same way that we approach our daily lives, living, doing, accomplishing…or, regretting… as a “something” and not a someone. We can’t decide to move to God, take action, and then expect him to  immediately be at our beckon call. We have a tendency to forget our place with God. We are pots, jars, sheep, and children. I believe the Bible authors make that completely clear. Experience teaches us the same.

If that were the case, God would live with us now and this earth would be heaven. As it is, it is not, and God has clearly stated that our sins separate us from him. The Jews tried to do that with Jesus once, to make him a ruler by force, but he refused it. His way was higher than our way. The same is true today.

In fact, when Peter told Jesus he would never die, Jesus called his well-intended chastisement demonic. I believe that Jesus still rebukes his sons and daughters today with that same honest severity. He is in our lives for the sake of bringing us to heaven. When we wander and stray from God, we can return, but on his terms: through repentance. God’s is the end game. It’s vital that these “pillow” writings emphasize the sheer grace of what his “terms” mean. It means nothing less than forgiveness, peace, joy, and salvation – “for all who believe.”

So, dear “self,” rebuke yourself sternly and welcome the godly rebuke of others. When work becomes obsession, when your life does not center full-time on Jesus, then you must rebuke yourself sharply. Tell Satan to get behind you and carry your cross. But always remember that when it doesn’t feel like God comes running to you in those times He has already died for you in his time, on his terms.

His ways are higher than ours and he always accepts those who turn to him in faith, even when they wear themselves out working for things that are less than important.

“Whom do I have in heaven but you? And on earth, whom do I have but you?”

6 Comments on “Restless Tonight

  1. Whenever we look to or at ourselves we will end in either despair or pride. It is only when we look at Jesus that we will know peace. We cannot please God. Jesus pleased God for us. Now when God looks down on us he says, “This is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.” Amazing that we can be called children of God.

    We cannot do anything to make ourselves feel or be right (righteous, worthy, important, needed, valued). But we will never stop trying this side of heaven. We can’t seem to believe there is nothing we can do. We just refuse to believe that “it is finished” and we had no part in the triumph, except to contribute our sin.

    Read about grace. ONE WAY LOVE – INEXHAUSTIBLE GRACE FOR AN EXHAUSTED WORLD, by Tullian. We are all exhausted.

    love,
    Mom

  2. As usual, Mathew’s comments are very enlightening. His mother’s comments are also. Jumping from one worry to another or just from one trivial thought to another is referred to by contemplatives as the “monkey mind.” People sometimes ask why individuals keep repeating the same prayer over and over again. It serves to quiet the mind so that prayer becomes more than just asking God for things or even praising Him. It becomes listening to God .

  3. I thank God for every morning I wake up to face another day with my son at my side. I am very fortunate to have moderately good health at my age but I also have issues that I cannot fix. There are members in my family that do not get along and that is of great distress to me. It is also something that I cannot fix since I have tried and failed. Maybe someday before I go to be with you, God, this family will be healed. I hope and pray that this is the case.

  4. I don’t know when you wrote this…but I stumbled across it when I was looking for a jpg image of the ‘man behind the curtain’ scene from the Wizard of Oz. Thank you. I needed to read this. May God bless you for speaking the truth.

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