Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Refreshing the Weary

Refreshing

by Dennis Pollock

One of the major rhythms of life is the pattern of growing weary and then being refreshed. A simple example of this is our need for sleep. Most humans spend around 16 hours of their days awake and 8 hours asleep. Of course God didn't have to make us this way. He could have made us untiring creatures who never needed sleep at all. How much more productive we could be if we never slept! How many more books could be written, business deals transacted, sermons preached, and inventions created if nobody ever slept!

Our wise Creator did not see fit to make us thus. From somewhere between 10 pm to midnight we find ourselves running down. Our eyes become heavy, our concentration weakens, our productivity plummets, and even our desire for food must give way to the overwhelming demands of our body that we lie on a comfortable bed, close our eyes, and lose consciousness for a prolonged period of six to eight hours (often more if you are a teenager). By morning, after breakfast and a cup of coffee, we are refreshed, alert, and ready to face another day.

Humans were made to be recharged. All over the world, in every culture and climate, people observe the ritual of mealtime. We sit down at tables with members of our household and eat and drink together. We would have so much more time, if only we didn't have to sit down three times a day and eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Purely for efficiency's sake, it would be better if we only needed to eat one large meal every week. But if we were to try such a plan we would soon lose strength. By the second day we would have far less energy and motivation to work hard. We would soon become weak and by the fifth or sixth day we would be nearly worthless for any task requiring heavy physical exertion. Our Creator has designed our bodies to run down after short periods of time; daily we need to be refreshed with sleep, refreshed with liquids, refreshed with food.

Clearly this is evident on a physical level, but it is just as much true on the mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. In every area of our life we need refreshing, recharging, and re-filling. The good news is this – the God who made us this way is committed to seeing to it that His children in Christ Jesus have all the refreshing they need as they make their way through this life. In some cases He commands us to take actions that will refresh ourselves, and in others He provides supernatural refreshment for us directly from His hand, but in all cases His desire is that we do not grow weary to the point of breaking down.

Keep the Sabbath

Placed within the ten commandments given to Moses and Israel is God's recognition of this principle: In Exodus God commands: "Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed." This law had two important functions: to honor God and to rest the mind and body. God did not want His children wearing themselves out, or their servants, or even their livestock. He insisted that one day a week be a day of rest. No planting, no harvesting, no buying or selling in the marketplace, nor even cooking at home. Everyone must rest. Enjoy your family's company, worship God, laugh, talk, plan, and dream, but keep out of the fields and the marketplace. When Jesus arrived, this commandment had been abused, and the Jews took it to ridiculous extremes, prompting our Lord to make the statement: "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath."

Jesus was not suggesting the Sabbath was irrelevant. He was telling us that the Sabbath commandment, when applied correctly, is good for us! It is not healthy for men and women to work all seven days of the week. Hard-wired within us is the need for a break. Nonstop activity that goes week after week and month after month will run us into the ground. God is so firmly convinced of this that He didn't just make it a suggestion; He made it a commandment. And while most Christians do not feel the need to keep the Sabbath as strictly as it was given to the Jews, taking a day out of each week when we spend a little more time with God, enjoy our friends and family, and cease from our everyday tasks is still of tremendous value to us.

Drought & Rain

The need for refreshment can also be seen in our earth's weather patterns. When the Jews were about to go in and possess the promised land of Canaan, God told them that this land would not be like Egypt where they irrigated the crops with pumps by foot, but "the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven." Their land would be dependent upon rain, which meant that they would be dependent upon God. In Egypt the Nile river constantly supplied water to the irrigation ditches. But now when things dried up they would have to pray to the Lord for rain.

A drought is a terrible thing. Ugly cracks appear in the ground, the grass turns browns, and crops begin to die. It would be nice if it rained regularly once per week, with the exact amount of moisture needed to carry us through to the next week. But God has not created our world in such a fashion. Sometimes there are wet seasons where it rains nearly every day for a week, and other times things dry up for a month or two. When I was younger my father built me a flower box to place on our front porch. I planted some orange marigolds in it and when they came up they added a beautiful touch to our house. But having little familiarity with flowers and flowerboxes I never thought to water them. I assumed they could wait until it rained from time to time to get their watering. Was I ever wrong! After a while I noticed they didn't look so good and wondered what was wrong. In a few more days they looked nearly hopeless. At that point I figured out these poor things needed water (DUHH!). But by now they were in such pitiful shape that it didn't seem that anything could restore them to their former beauty. Nevertheless I gave them a good watering and waited to see how they would respond. I could hardly believe it! Within a week or so they were as beautiful as ever, green and perky once again. They had been refreshed.

Rain is one of the major Biblical symbols used to speak of God's ability to refresh and rejuvenate His people. In Psalms we read: "You, O God, sent a plentiful rain, whereby You confirmed Your inheritance, when it was weary." This speaks of how Israel was sustained during those dry, tough times during their forty years of trudging through the wilderness. We are told by Paul that "these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition." We will probably never be led through a physical wilderness and follow a cloud from camp to camp, but every Christian will go through wilderness times in their lives – dry times when things are difficult, the work is hard, the days are long, our resources are meager, and we cry out to the Lord for refreshing and encouragement. We need the Lord to send rain upon our parched souls, or emotions, or finances, or marriages or ministries. Many a time I have gone before the Lord and prayed, "Lord I need encouragement." I was becoming weary, my strength was failing, my faith was weakening, and if the Lord didn't provide some rain, I was in serious trouble. Do you know what happened? Time and again the Lord has been faithful to provide the needed encouragement. He has sent His rain in some form or another that gave me the strength and renewed energy to move forward with faith.

Those who Wait on the Lord

One of the greatest Bible passages about God's grace that encourages and refreshes is found in Isaiah, where the prophet writes:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But 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 40:28-31)

If anyone should be able to run without tiring it should be the young men, but even they can only go so far and run so fast until they become exhausted and can go no further. The key to being renewed is what Isaiah describes as "waiting on the Lord." Those who learn to wait on God, and to look to Him through the name and righteousness of His Son Jesus Christ, will have their strength renewed, whether young or old. They shall run and not be weary. They shall be refreshed.

Jesus Christ is God's ordained Source of refreshing for the human race. Jesus declares, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." For the sinner, He brings the refreshing grace of salvation. Peter preached, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." How hard it is for those outside of Christ to try to make their way through life on their own, being their own gods, trying vainly to shape their own lives, pretending that everything is wonderful when deep down they know full well that something is dreadfully wrong. Man was never made to be his own god. There is only one God and you ain't Him! It says in Psalms, "Know that the LORD, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture."

Filled and Re-filled

As Christians, we find constant refreshings and refillings in Jesus Christ. We may be initially filled with the Spirit early in our Christian experience, but we will find that these anointings and fillings will dry up. We will need new and fresh fillings. We read of David, "Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward." It does not say the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and that was the end of that. It says he was filled with the Spirit "from that day forward." This is our inheritance in Jesus Christ. He is the fountain of the Living Waters! As we come to Him again and again with His promises on our lips, we shall know a life of spiritual refreshment. No believer ever needs to burn out when the living waters are constantly flowing in and through him.

Throughout our lives we shall experience droughts of various kinds – financial droughts, emotional droughts, and sometimes even spiritual droughts. We will find ourselves desperately in need of the refreshing rains of heaven. And when this happens we must follow the excellent advice of Hosea: "Break up your fallow ground. For it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you." When an area of my life has gone dry, I have learned to set aside a day or two or three to fast and pray and seek the face of the Lord, fully acknowledging my dryness but also God's ability and willingness to refresh. The breakthrough may not follow immediately, but it is sure to come. God has declared that in order to relate to Him we must recognize two things: first, that He is, and secondly, that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. As we seek the Lord, recognizing Jesus as our Fountain of Living Waters, and waiting upon Him to send the rain, we shall not be disappointed. We shall mount up with wings as eagles. We shall run and not be weary; we shall walk and not faint.


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