Soul Rest in a Restless Time

SUE TELL|GUEST

As Covid-19 continues its march across our globe, through our land, into our homes, conforming our lives to its harsh realities, I’m learning where I choose to allow my mind to rest is the only place to find soul rest as well.

In March when stay-@-home became the new reality, we received a letter referencing that popular phrase from a few years ago, What would Jesus do? The writer suggested changing it to, What is Jesus doing – in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Many good things were happening. Jesus was at work. Our governors made decisions to protect their citizens. Companies offered to retrofit their plants to manufacture ventilators and protective gear for our hospitals. Volunteers across America sewed masks. People bought groceries and ran errands for those at-risk.

Caring and kindnesses were happening— and still are.

The question morphed in my mind: What should I be doing? How can I help?

In March, God led me to five answers, five ways to experience soul rest. As the restrictions of stay-@-home were relaxed (in Colorado, our governor is now saying safer-@-home), God continues to define how I think about my question. Now my answers, although similar, are not the same as in March.

  1. Stay engaged with God. I’m yielding to God to lead the discussion as I read and study his word. Each day, I quote from memory Psalm 23, and then ask, What would it look like to trust him with these truths today? God, how are you showing yourself as my shepherd today? God, in the midst of this pandemic, how are you restoring my soul? God, how can I trust you with my anxieties (my fears)? Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weights him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Last week God’s good word came to me from Philippians 4. In the first nine verses there is only one do not (have no anxiety). There are seven dos. And two wonderful promises: God is near; he is with us (verses five and nine). And God’s promise of peace is repeated in verses seven and nine. Trusting God’s nearness and peace lead to soul rest.
  2. Stay informed, but not over-informed. The abundance of news available can lead us down a path of depression and fear. I ask my husband, Bill, about once a day, “Is there anything new I need to know?” Trying to understand all the confusing statistics leaves my mind spinning. I scan the news, both local and national, almost every day. My husband, Bill stays more on top of the news. Trying to understand all the information available in the media does not lead me to soul rest.
  3. Both limit and use technology. Communicating is greatly dependent on my cell phone and my computer these days. I am thankful for this technology. I also realize that if I take advantage of every invitation coming my way, screen time will dominate my life and I will squander the opportunities and purposes of God for that day. Soul rest will suffer. More than ever, I need to discern the good from the best. Or as C.H. Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong, it is the difference between right and almost right.”
  4. My ministry in the “cracks.” We live on a dead-end street with 11 residences, each surrounded by five acres of Ponderosa pines. We don’t naturally run into our neighbors. I have a different relationship with each. My extroverted personality makes it easy to reach out. My desire is not to only be known as a kind person, but for the gospel to travel through our street. But what is the best way to reach out to each individual neighbor. I ask, This week, where are the cracks in their front doors? I pray to be sensitive. As Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.”
  5. Masks, blueberries, and neighbors. Several weeks ago, I resurrected my sewing machine to sew masks for our family. I emailed the neighbors and asked if I could make them masks as well. I was surprised and thrilled when I received five orders for masks. I’m learning that my neighbors want to help me too. One called to say she was on her way to buy groceries and asked if she could pick up anything for me. “Yes, blueberries” I responded. Blueberries are certainly not essential, but we enjoy them. When my mask-wearing neighbor dropped the blueberries on our front porch, she also left a bottle of wine. Community is a two-way street. I too need to practice the humility of receiving. We have each other to lean on.

As I practice these habits, I experience the reality of Jesus’s words,

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I pray you too would find this soul rest during this restless time.

About the Author:

Sue Tell

Sue graduated from Hope College in 1969 with a degree in elementary education. She still loves teaching, but realizes she prefers teaching grown-up women. She lives this out by embracing her status as the older woman, by writing, and by facilitating retreats. Living Loved, the name of her retreats, invite women to hear from God and nourish their souls.

She and her husband Bill live in Colorado Springs. They have served on the staff of The Navigators for over 45 years. They are active at Village Seven Presbyterian Church. Sue serves as a shepherd in their Sunday school community. And Bill often teaches in the adult Sunday school communities. They have two married sons (a university professor and a PCA pastor) and six GRAND-children. Being a gramma is one of her favorite identities.

Along with her husband, she authored Well-Versed Kids a Bible memory program for elementary aged children at the request of the children’s ministry at Grace Presbyterian in Peoria, IL where they attended in the 80’s. It is still used by Grace Pres today.

Sue pens an almost weekly blog, Echoes of Grace, (www.suetell.com) designed to encourage women on their faith journeys. Echoes celebrates its 10 year birthday this fall.

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