“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.” Matthew 11:29
Many times, standing in the assemblies during FBF’s Easter outreach, I have heard people ask excitedly, “What’s next!?!” In kindness, I smile and share with them what we have coming up over the summer months. Quite frequently, I see their shoulders drop a little and a confused look pass over their eyes. They are so overwhelmed by what they are seeing–what God is doing through making Easter baskets–that they long to see more. To build off of the momentum, if you will…
But many years ago, I found that by the end of this marathon of an outreach if we didn’t step back, rest and withdraw, it became more work than it needed to be. And not just physically, but emotionally. At some point, another Easter basket makes us want to cringe! More grass, more plastic eggs, toys, stuffed animals…are no longer a welcome sight as they have no where to go, especially with limited space to store and almost another 12 months before beginning to build again. Thankfully, early on, God taught us to rely solely on Him and to turn away from collecting year round. That was (and is, as we are still learning) one of the many lessons over the years.
Another crucial one was finding moments of down time, having the ability to walk away and trust God that what needs to be done can be done in a specific time slot. It is a part of a greater message of trusting Him. It is not magic nor wishful thinking. Hard work is absolutely necessary, but it is coupled with a strong belief–faith, if you will–that God wants us to live lives to the fullest containing both seasons of work and rest. Sometimes, it is just short rest in between lots of work, and sometimes it is more rest with work sprinkled in between.
And so, I found out years ago that it was okay to walk away from the basement after Easter. To respect that my body and my mind, my family and their grace, our volunteers and their lives, all needed to rest after giving such loving dedication and time to building baskets. The lights go off after our last delivery and we often don’t return to the basement until early June to sift through what is left.
But this year was different. You see, I suffered a head injury back in November. It has been a slow, slow recovery of symptoms that are hard for anyone to see, and even harder for me to respect–until they knock me down. Both Christmas and Easter, in regards to FBF’s outreaches, left me feeling quite vulnerable by those hedges the concussion has surrounded me with. And so, I vowed to myself that the basement was going to be cleaned up as soon as Easter was done. I wouldn’t be caught unprepared for tomorrow! Order would prevail and then I could truly rest!!
Best laid plans, right? I can chuckle now at how my fear had won the moment in that grand plan. I even fashioned “Clean Up Days” in our signups. I scheduled for spring break as frequently tweens, teens and their families come to help on those off days. Friends shared how they wanted to come wash shelves, vacuum up those ever spreading pieces of Easter grass, and help me “deep clean”. “Ah,” said my mind. Then I could truly rest…with all that accomplished.
Yet, God’s word is steadfast and true. We are told in Psalm 119:152: “Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.” Nothing had changed in what God had been teaching me about needed rest. In fact, I had opened to multiple Scriptures in the end of March where Jesus had gone off on His own to pray and rest…illustrated by an early morning escape to a hillside or boat at the water’s edge. It was as if He was gently preparing me for what was needed most.
And so, the days of cleaning came and went. No volunteers. Moreover, I had no energy. I was so relieved that no one had signed up! We had finished up the deliveries and the week after Easter, I spent writing…a taxing endeavor with my concussion. By the end of that week, all my pizzazz for being prepared was gone. I joked with people that coming off of FBF’s Easter outreach was much like jet lag after a very long flight. A dead weight that really kind of takes over. It took me about a week of trying to fight through it to realize it wasn’t meant to be. Through His word, and most of the devotionals I looked at, the message was consistently rest.
So I am thinking now, it will be June before the basement has recovered from Easter :o)
And that’s okay. In fact, He’s right…always is. Rest is fundamental. It changes everything–your physical ability, your mindset, your attitudes, your ability to see, and your ability to share. If we ran head long into the next event, if we just continued on, there would be no time to savor all that He has done, which is also a part of rest. It is called reflection…
My friends, I humbly share that by His grace and provision–His inspiration, movement, and mercy through so many–FBF was able to build and provide over 3,000 children baskets to families in need. Several hundred more were created and shared with teens and adults. Numbers I have yet to be able to wrap my head around. Another lesson to be learned, in season where I felt less than capable, He had more than provided…exceedingly greater than anything I could have imagined. He accomplished so much more than I had hoped or planned. So, must I really worry so much about for tomorrow when He is with me today?
This time of rest will pass as we return to the shore and begin to reach out again. Lots of stories to share, and the beginnings of other smaller outreaches that will quietly dot our summer (but not overtake). Small, necessary preparations while trusting Him that He will be with us in our tomorrows more than we can see today.
Steady prayers, my friends, for us and you until then.