Learning to obey 'stop' as well as 'go'
Perhaps because my experience of midwives was purely hospital based, and sleeping on the job is often frowned up, I have grown up under the impression that midwifes should be constantly awake and never at rest during a woman’s labour. But the last two births I have accompanied have taught me something very important about taking rest when it is available.
Recently I shared about Jesus sleeping in the storm and then commanding it to be quiet when His disciples woke Him up in a panic. His rest was offensive to the disciples, but essential in helping us understand our position of authority and the rest that is possible to us in the midst of any crisis, no matter how life-threatening.
Recently I have had the privilege to accompany two of my friends as they gave birth. I know the doctor-midwife well and had introduced them both to her and I was able to support the families and the doctor throughout the labour and delivery. Although I knew the doctor well, I had never seen her attend a birth at home before and I was very impressed and thankful for the incredible peace and patience that she brought with her.
The other thing that impressed me was her ability to know when to rest.
Not knowing how long the labour would be (one of the labours was over 30 hours!) she took moments to rest and sleep when she could so that she could be ready to respond with enough energy when the moment arrived. She had confidence in the mother and that she wouldn’t miss the birth and she knew the value of getting rest in the moments of calm. I, however, did not take her lead in one of the births and so got very little sleep during the 30 hours, which spanned two nights!
I love that when God led the Israelites out of Egypt His Presence was visible before them both during the day and during the night. He showed them He was with them throughout all the journey. The cloud and the fire meant that they could travel during the day and the night, but it also paced the journey for them. Whenever the cloud or the fire stopped, the Israelites would stop too and set up camp and rest. I love that Deutoronmy 1:31-33 also tells us that God went before the Israelites and sought out places for them to rest. And even when they were on the journey, rest was available to them as God was with them and carried them, as a father carries his son, all the way to their resting place! What a beautiful image!
Here is the beautiful promise God gave the Israelites: ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ (Exodus 33:14)
It is as His Presence goes with us (and we all have access now to His Presence through the Holy Spirit) that we can enter His rest. Imagine if the Israelites had not had God’s Presence with them. On top of not having the reassurance of the His Presence, no doubt they would have suffered by pushing themselves too hard when they travelled - they would not have known how to pace themselves. Isn’t that so often true for our lives too, even though we have the Presence of the Holy Spirit with us at all times if we just took heed of his invitations to rest?
So this month I am leaning into the Spirit’s voice to hear when He is telling me to ‘go’ and when He is telling me to ‘stop and rest’. Of course I don’t get it right all the time, but when I take the opportunity to lean into Him, I love the invitations to join Him in rest for a moment and fully enjoy the rest and not feel guilty about them, but to truly embrace them. Sometimes it is just closing my eyes for five seconds and reconnecting with Him and breathing deep. Sometimes it is taking advantage of a free hour to go and spend some time with Him or to have a quick nap. And then infused with His rest, perspective and Presence, I am empowered to enjoy the work He has for me to do too. I no longer want to live under a striving spirit telling me constantly to ‘go, go, go’ and then ‘stop and drop’. I instead want to relish in His Presence and embrace such a beautiful gift.
Please feel free to comment and add your own experience below. I love hearing your reflections!
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