It is Okay

“It’s okay to have grilled cheese for dinner, you know.” Believe it or not, I found those to be great words of wisdom from a friend. Encouragement at a time I needed it.

I was sick. I wondered aloud whether I could actually do something like take a nap. My friend reminded me that it was okay to take a break. That it was okay to not always work hard at everything.

Why can resting sometimes be the most difficult thing?

I am an achiever by nature. I like to get things done. I like to do my best. And so, when I read the Bible, I focus on verses like Colossians 3:23

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”

When I read that, I think, “Yes. I’m doing pretty well at this Christian life thing.” But then I read I verses like Exodus 20:11

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Oh. That one I’m not so good at.

If God rested, why do I think I don’t need to?

Because sometimes rest feels like a burden. Rest may mean I can’t check everything off my to-do list. Rest may mean that I have to settle for a mediocre outcome on something I wanted to be fabulous. Rest may mean I have to say “no” to something I wanted to say “yes” to.

Rest means I have to shift my priorities. It can be frustratingly difficult.

But it is meant to be a gift.

God instituted the Sabbath after the Israelites left their lives as slaves in Egypt. He was releasing them. Reminding them that they did not have to work every moment of every day. With Yahweh as their God, they did not have to live as slaves anymore.

With Yahweh as our God, we do not have to live as slaves anymore either. We are not slaves to tasks or goals or recognitions.

Rest is a reminder that the world keeps spinning even if I am not running on it. One less checked-off task does not bring the earth to a halt. Rest is a reminder that it is okay to be average sometimes. Maybe even below average.

Because my value as a human being is not based on what I do; it is based on what I am. And I am a beloved child of God. I do not have to earn that identity; I just have to accept it.

So today, I want to say to you what my friend said to me.

It is okay.

It is okay to not be fashionable. It is okay to get a B (or even a C) in a class. It is okay to leave work at 5 pm. It is okay to buy pre-made Valentines and not craft your own. It is okay to go to bed before your inbox is emptied. It is okay to take breaks from social media. It is okay to not stay up-to-date with every current event. It is okay to let other people down. It is okay to sometimes take the easy way, even if it is not the best way.

It is okay.

I did end up taking a nap. And the house wasn’t picked up when my husband got home. And we made frozen pizza for dinner. And I wore a sweatshirt. And my kids had too much screen time. And I didn’t read any of my book.

And it was okay. The world kept spinning. And I kept being loved.

What "It's Okay..." statement do you need to say to yourself today? What do you wish you could say to someone else? Do you ever have trouble resting?

Advent Series Day 5: our cries have been heard

When I was 7 years old, I was at a water park with my family. We were in the wave pool at a point when the water was still. My dad was in the deep end, and I swam out to meet him. But while I was on my way, the waves started. I struggled to get through them. I was not a strong swimmer. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t find help... until I spotted a bar mounted to on the side of the pool. the wave pool at Noah's Ark

I somehow made my way to the bar and hung on for dear life. I breathed between the swells going over my head. I wanted to cry out for a rescuer, but I had to use the time between waves to just breathe. So, I prayed. I prayed that someone would see me and pull me out. Suddenly, I felt hands grip my wrists and heave me up to the side of the pool.

My prayers were heard.

At the end of the book of Genesis, the people of Israel are in Egypt. They are there because God had used Joseph to provide for them, and the Egyptians, during a time of famine. The Israelites are secure. The pool is still.

But in the book of Exodus, the waves begin. As generations pass, the Egyptians forget about the way Joseph rescued them. They stop seeing Israelites as an ally, and begin to see them as a threat.  The Egyptians force them into difficult slave labor. Pharaoh even has all male Israelite infants thrown into the Nile. The Israelites groan under the weight of this affliction. They cry out to God for a rescuer.

Their prayers are heard.

Moses is out tending sheep when he sees a bush, filled with fire, but not burning up. He goes to get a closer look, and hears the voice of Yahweh.

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land... So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” – Exodus 3:7-10

And so begins the story of the exodus- one of the most important stories of the Israelite nation. God hears the prayers of His people and sends Moses to rescue them. Through Moses, God sends plagues on the Egyptian people- plagues that show Yahweh, and not the Egyptian gods, as the true God. Plagues meant to motivate Pharaoh to release the Israelites. But these plagues do not work until God sends the most devastating message- the plague of the death of all firstborn sons. The Israelites are saved from this plague if they sacrifice a lamb, and spread its blood over their door frames. With this plague, Pharaoh is convinced. He releases the Israelites from slavery.

They are saved by the blood of the lamb.

We too were trapped and oppressed by the dark forces of this world. We needed a savior. The birth of our Messiah shows that God heard us crying out. He was concerned about our suffering and slavery. And so He came down to rescue us.

When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. – Galatians 4:4-7

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  – 1 Peter 1:18-19

We are no longer slaves. We are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. We are children of God.

Jesus is the answer to our prayers.