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Where in this Wild World Can We Rest?

Earthquakes killing thousands, the Taliban continuing to tighten their death grip on the lives and futures of people I love, a mother of four with aggressive breast cancer—sometimes the weight of destruction in the world feels almost too much to bear, the intensity of injustice crushing.

How, how can we rest, here in this wild world?

This is the world we’re given to live in for now, this uncomfortable middle between the once perfect garden and the city where God will wipe away every tear and death will be no more.

For now.

I need those words. Injustice, destruction, pain: these do not have the last word. Jesus does. Jesus IS the last Word and the first. He is before all things. He holds everything together. And in him everything will find its fulfillment.

This is our “for now” home, this beautiful, broken world where Jesus lived—and where he still makes his home in and through us. Where he will someday return to make all things right.

The glory bush blooms full with the reminder: God is here.

I’ve heard that reminder from the apostle Paul recently, too:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:4-7)

There are so many reminders in Paul’s words that I need, but today it’s this wonderful four-word assurance in the middle of the commands that speaks loudest: The Lord is near. Near to coming again, but also near in space, present among and within us.

Right here.

God whispers again through Malcolm Guite’s reflection on Psalm 49, reminding us even in the hardest situations to resist the world’s “premature despair” and listen instead to “the strong song of His love.” The story isn’t yet over, after all, and God himself is skillfully weaving even the dark threads into the pattern of glory he is creating.

The reminder is everywhere: in Scripture and poems, the faces of friends, grasses waving, monkshood bowing, and alstroemeria opening to the sun: The Lord is near. Near to us, and near to those suffering ones we love. Near to coming to wipe away all tears and end death forever.

Let me say it once more: Our kind, faithful Lord is near, a strong tower in the midst of our frailty.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever” (Ps 118:29)

The psalmist’s words end one of my morning readings and I carry them with me through the day, giving thanks again and again that no matter what happens with my friends, God is good. He loves them, hurts with them more than I do, and is present with them when I can’t be. His love endures forever.

I add a few more songs to my new “Risking Rest” playlist as I make supper, wash dishes, letting my body move, my heart and mouth sing along with the truth that God is good, that his love does endure forever. Helping my heart turn again from the world, reach again for our God.

This, this is the only reason we can risk rest in the midst of this world’s craziness: our good God remains faithful forever, and he is with us.

This, this is the only place we can rest in the midst of this world’s craziness: here in the love of our good and faithful God.


P.S. Sing along with me?

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Diana

    Carolyn, I have an exciting and practical application for your Spotify playlist! I haven’t used Spotify before but today, sitting quietly for the five minutes recommended before checking my blood pressure (I have been finding it a little high again lately) I listened to the first couple of gentle songs on your playlist. To my utter surprise my blood pressure was the lowest it’s been in years. The music is calming and inviting so I’ll do the same thing tomorrow! Thank you, Lord, and Carolyn, for providing such a lovely form of therapy with no side effects! Wow, Lord!

    1. Carolyn Watts

      How lovely! Thanks so much for sharing this, Diana!

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