For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: Isaiah 30:15 (KJV)


In a little booklet I have called “Unhurried Living,” John Ortberg says, “Hurry is a disordered heart.” He refers to the habit of constantly rushing; of guilt when we’re not doing anything; of pressure to perform; of anxiety that others will get ahead of us; and of FOMO, fear of missing out. In our high-stress lifestyleS today, we’ve probably all succumbed to one of these behaviors. We seem to have something pushing at all times telling us that we need to be busy.

And then the Lord comes to us in our rushing about and tells us to be still and know him (Psalm 46:10). Stop everything. In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. I wonder if the question is “would not” or “could not”? Have we become so habituated to rushing around that we don’t know how to stop? But God says that in resting, we’ll be strong; in being still, we’ll come to know him.

Two of our Ugandan friends, retired archbishop Henry and his wife Phoebe, have practiced Quiet Monday for the eighteen years that I’ve known them. Phoebe loads a basket with fruit and drinks, and then she and Henry go to a mountain retreat to pray and rest and be still for the day. Henry was bishop of a northwestern diocese in Uganda during the height of the Lord’s Resistance Army in their region—and yet, the LRA never ventured into his diocese to bring death and destruction. Was that coincidental or was it due to two people who every week dedicated one full day to resting and waiting and calling on God?

We may not have physical enemies, but we all have adverse circumstances and spiritual enemies waiting for the tiniest opening. What can we do? Borrowing again from “Unhurried Living,” we can refresh our spirits with God’s promises about rest; we can create a place in our homes or designate one nearby for reflection; we can commit to regular times (or days) of quietness; we can build in a time of renewal each month; or we could even take a sabbatical.

Take the challenge to rest. It may be difficult initially—our systems have been programmed for performance, but God calls us to rest. Our strength is in quietness and confidence.

Father, help us, convict us to slow down and listen. Quiet our spirits so that we rest in you. Renew us for your service and your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:16


If you’ve not read The Velveteen Rabbit, drop everything and go get a copy. It really is an allegory of life and love and authenticity. The little toy bunny in the story is told by the Skin Horse that he can become real through love. The poor bunny is outmatched by fancier and more complicated toys, and the possibility of realness seems remote. But suffering and near tragedy brings out something in him that was never there before.

How like us in our pursuit of spiritual growth. Our objective is clear: become the person God intended from the dawn of creation. And then we begin the process. We think study will move us forward. We fill our lives with books. We believe emulating Jesus’ good works will win his approval. We volunteer for every good deed on the bulletin board. We try to produce good fruit so that God will be honored and people will be blessed. All these things and more we do on our own.

And all the while, becoming is not our doing. It’s all of God. Yes, we can cooperate, but he’s the one who does the work. Like the clay under the potter’s hand, our job is to surrender and to hold still as he pounds and shapes and then reshapes and then spins us wildly on the wheel as his hands hold us lovingly, forming us as he will. And when he finishes, we are the work of his hands and the image of his making.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil 2:13). Resting in God’s hands doesn’t guarantee comfort; it doesn’t promise ease; but it does ensure peace and warrants transformation. And all the while, God is bringing us into truth. We are becoming real as he cuts off the superficial and removes the phony props and takes away everything that is not of him.

Do you remember the story that was attributed to have been Michaelangelo’s explanation for his brilliant sculpture of David? It is said that he was questioned as to how he was able to so radically create David from the massive piece of marble that had been rejected by other sculptors. The simple response? I cut out everything that was not David. Perhaps that’s an apocryphal statement, but it is what God seems to be doing with us. He looks at the self we have surrendered to him, and he begins to chip and cut and file away according to his design. He knows what he intends us to be, and as we lie still, he perfects his good work in us.

Like that little fictional rabbit, we finally become real.
Father, we long to have your love shape and mold and make us. Take us and let your will be done. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)




I don’t know anyone who has flown like an eagle, but in times of euphoria, I almost think I could.  Note that this type of flight is for those who wait and depend on the Lord.  That almost sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it – wait in order to soar?  But God, the Creator, is the one who empowers, and he’s the one who renews for soaring, running, and walking.

I have a friend who dreamed for years and then trained for months and months to run in the Greek marathon, all 26.2 miles of it, much of it uphill. And another friend worked an incredibly long time with a trainer to run in the Boston marathon.  According to the reports of my friends, the excitement of just being part of those famous events was energizing, but the last parts of the races were absolutely grueling.  Sounds a lot like the races we are called to run.

I have observed, quite frankly, that most of our days are characterized by walking rather than flying and running.  Just putting one foot in front of the other.  Sometimes as we plod, the path becomes more restrictive and the way more treacherous while even the light seems to darken.  God brings us to those places, too, those dark nights of the soul.  He allows the plodding, but it’s only for a season, and he sustains us during those times.

That’s when waiting is essential.  Waiting for renewal.  Waiting for rest and peace.  Waiting for God to make himself known.  Waiting as he makes crooked places straight and rough places plain.  Strength comes in waiting, and when it’s time to move on, God gives the signal.  The light brightens the path, and sometimes, yes, sometimes, we even mount up with wings like eagles.

Just now, however, I’m waiting.



Father, knowing you and your Word brings rest during weary times.  You promise strength and every other thing we need on this journey.  We trust you, and we wait. Thank you.  AMEN.


This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24


We’ve awakened today with a gift from God—this very day.  There will be so many choices and opportunities.  What will we do with the gift?

We will enter his gates with thanksgiving in our hearts (Psa. 100:4) reflecting on the benefits we derive by being his child.  Thank you Lord for your abiding peace no matter what may come this day.  Thank you for grace to address every situation.  Thank you for wisdom to deal with complex issues today.  Thank you for strength to handle all my responsibilities.  Thank you for guidance with all the different options in this day.  Thank you that you never leave me even when my senses don’t perceive you.

We enter his courts with praise, confidently abiding in the presence of the Lord.  …in him  we live and move and have our being.  (Acts 17:28)  Today if something should try to shake my rest in him, I will redirect my attention and climb back into his arms.  After all, Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35, 37-39)

What a great day.


Father, keep us steadfast in your love today, rejoicing in you and not allowing circumstances to determine our attitudes or behavior.  We are your children; we rejoice in you.  AMEN.


Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10


There is a tiny space between Christmas and New Year’s—it’s just about one week long—and it seems to be claimed by no other special activity or pressing responsibility.  Advent and preparation for the Lord’s coming takes us right up to Christmas, while the hustle and bustle that’s part of our traditional celebrations have consumed those weeks after Thanksgiving.  And  here we are at that quiet time after Christmas just before we launch headlong, full speed into the New Year.

What a good time to slow down, to process, to be still and know…  Could we set aside our personal agendas just for this week to listen?  Are we able to stop long enough to worship?  Can we quiet our passions to spend several days resting in him?

The story is told of an early explorer who was trekking across the jungles of interior Africa.  He had been advised that his porters could travel only a certain distance each day, but he was determined to make better time.   Day by day he pushed his men until one day he arose to find that no one would move from his tent.  No bit of cajoling or threatening would budge his team.  Finally, sensing the man’s frustration, one of the porters admitted that they had traveled so quickly, they had left their souls behind and were waiting for them to catch up.

We’ve been given the gift of this one week to be still, to let our souls catch up.  This is a week to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, to bask in his love, and to nourish that relationship with him.  Can we slow down enough—just for a week—to know that he’s God (and we’re not)?


Father, “the world is too much with us.”  The holidays are crammed with activities and distractions—so much for holy days.  Thank you for this brief, quiet time to reorder ourselves and our priorities.  To be.  Our eyes are on you.  AMEN.


Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Exodus 20:8  NIV


Keeping Sabbath (or Sunday, whatever your tradition) seems mostly to be a thing of the past.  Some of us remember the time in our country when many stores and places of business were closed on Sunday, the “Lord’s Day.”  That was also the day most people went to church.

Orthodox Jews still honor the Sabbath as a day to rest, refrain from work, and to contemplate the coming Messiah.  Many follow certain restrictions regarding travel and other activities.

But the point of this reflection is self-examination of our own Sabbath/Sunday practices.  How do we keep the Sabbath day holy?  Isaiah (58:13, 14) expands on this thought:

 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

Then you will find your joy in the Lord…”

 Do our Sundays look any different from other days of the week?  Do we do as we please on Sunday?  Or do we set aside the day as holy unto the Lord?  Is our Sabbath practice a delight to the Lord?  Is our conversation different on Sunday?

I remember reading about the Billy Graham household when his children were growing up.  Ruth Graham ensured that Bible stories and games were available to the children and made Sundays a special day when the children could give themselves and their time to the Lord and each other.  Sundays were not just another day for entertainment but rather a time to spend together with God.

What does your Sabbath/Sunday look like?  Is it a delight to the Lord or the same old pursuit of self-indulgence?  Is it spent in loving others or is it one more day of narcissism?  I rather like the first part of Isaiah 58:14 that informs us of the joy we will find when we make the Sabbath a delight.  Worth trying, isn’t it?


Father, restore to us the joy of keeping Sabbath, even if it means we have to change our whole Sunday itinerary.  A radical shift could be just what we need.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.