The best news for the restless

I’ve noticed something. As soon as space opens up in my life – a little more energy, a few empty hours – I sense a restlessness to fill it.  What should I accomplish while I have this energy? What will I do in my free summer weeks?

And a friend writes:

“I wonder why we struggle so much with quiet. How can we long so much for intimacy and then become so very uncomfortable when we begin to experience it? I know for myself, I am quick to want to “translate” it- share it, make it a teaching moment, a meaningful notation in my journal, … I rarely take, or want, the opportunity to rest, savor, delight, enjoy.”

What lies beneath this restless drivenness, this desire to translate, or at least transcribe, even the most intimate of moments rather than simply rest and savor?

Could it be, as Wangerin notes, that I am trying to noun the verb, to fix in time what is beautiful because I fear it will slip through my fingers and will not come again? Do I fear the change inherent in relationship, afraid that it will decay rather than ripening?

Is this yet another example of scarcity thinking, the lie of lack, that seems to pervade my being, causing me to see all resources as limited, leading me to grasp and hoard? You know what I mean. Not enough hours in the day. Not enough hands to do the work. Too little money for retirement. If I don’t write it down now, the perfect wording will never come again.

Or, if you prefer, The early bird gets the worm. There’s only room for one at the top.

It’s in us from childhood: grab the biggest cookie, be the best in your class, get the longest turn on the computer, because there’s never enough to go around. Soon it will all be gone and if you haven’t grabbed it, you’ve lost out.

How might life change, how might I change, if I refused to live out this lie of scarcity?

“I watch the hands move grace on the clock face. I’m growing older. These children growing up. But time is not running out. This day is not a sieve, losing time. With each passing minute, each passing year, there’s this deepening awareness that I am filling, gaining time. We stand on the brink of eternity.” (Voskamp, “One Thousand Gifts, p. 77)

What might change if I remembered that each time God has asked me to give something away, let go of control, he has given back far more than he has taken?

Could it be that I’m trying to grab something that has already been given? Or, rather, that I’m so focussed on trying to grab the little I see that I fail to see the limitless treasure being offered, treasure that need not, cannot, be grasped but only received with open hands and grateful hearts?

Might it be that my drivenness, my desire to fill the space, is at root a distrust in the goodness of God? Do I fear he’s drawing me into the great bait-and-switch game, that he’ll be gracious until I trust him with something really big and then he’ll bail on me and leave me to deal with it?

Is not this another version of the world’s first lie that keeps replaying in all of our hearts? “God doesn’t love me.”

But hear this:

“. . . his glorious grace, which he has freely given us. . . the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. . .” (Ephesians 1:6-8)

“. . . God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17)

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” (Romans 8:32)

“. . . God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:34)

If I think it all depends on me, then scarcity thinking is appropriate. I do have limited energy, limited time, limited skill.

But the wonderful truth is that none of it depends on me. Life is not something I create. Life is a gift. Freely given. Delightedly bestowed. So is intimacy. I am asked only to open my clenched, grasping hands to receive, look up a moment from my restless striving to see the truth.

God delights to give freely far more than we know. The intimacy, fullness, relationship that we want, He wants it more.

So go ahead, take a deep breath of fresh air. Enjoy the moment of rest, of beauty, not trying to capture or translate it but just savor it, knowing that it is just the beginning. We are deeply loved by a God who longs to give all of Himself to us.

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength — that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!  Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Eph 3:14-20 The Message)


To soak further in the truth of God’s extravagant love:

Ephesians 1 The Message

Romans 8:15-37 The Message