The earth seems to be moaning under the weight of all this ice. As the wind blows the branches of our mighty oak tree creek and crack, I can hear the wind coming down the chimney howling and groaning with the cold. First the snow fell, hard and heavy, covering our green grass and dry roads making it look like winter again. Then the rain came and turned the snow to mush and as night ushered in everything turned to ice. We lost a large branch in the back yard, it broke with the added weight of drop after drop. As the list grows longer with school cancellations, churches being closed and businesses opening late it seems that West Michigan is once again waving its white flag of surrender to Mother Nature.
So here I sit in an unexpected day off. No work, hard to travel around town - just me and Lucy sitting in the living room while B sleeps in preparation for working tonight. I got up to make coffee and while reaching for a filter I noticed the cupboard was a mess of tupperware chaos, I was filled with angst that it must been cleaned and organized. I walked by a closet that I know is filled with unfolded towels, boxes of hidden treasures and a mess of hastily folded sheets - another area of my home hidden behind a door, out of sight out of mind. The list continues to grow - mop, scrub the bathroom, start a new “get my house out of the 1950s” project, laundry, organize, sort and add order to our life.
I sit down with my now brewed cup of coffee overwhelmed by my walk through our house. Why is it that when given the gift of rest, when told - don’t come in to work, stay home - I create a list. A do this, wash that, clean up, fix it list that haunts me. It whispers you are lazy, unproductive and will waste your day if you don’t do any of these things. I long to scream back “go back into your closet and behind your cupboard door! I don’t have to work work work - I deserve to rest!” But I don’t - usually I do. Two weeks ago we had a couple snow days, I took down wall paper in our pink tiled bathroom and painted it a more tolerable white. Idle moments are always filled with a task, a list or a job to do. I get anxious if the sink is full of dirty dishes, if the hamper is overflowing, if the bathroom sink has built up enough toothpaste and dust that it is no longer white.
I seem to be programmed with an override on my rest button. Growing up my dad was a do-er. Always productive, always active and always dragging us along. My sister and I worship rainy days. We still call each other when rain is pouring down and giggle at the welcomed day of being stuck inside. But now I seem to always come back to my to-do list. I hate that I may become like that branch in the yard. Broken under the weight of list after list, of task upon task. The branch that now lies in the yard will never again feel the warmth of the sun, it won’t experience the melt of winter into spring and the stretch of the growing season.
How do I surrender my list, my drive and my angst to enjoy the gift of rest? How can I seek out rest in a busy day or difficult schedule?
Genesis 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Exodus 16:23 He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: tomorrow is to be a day of Sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.”
Matthew 11:28 Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.