Find your rest: Rest beyond sleep

While putting the effort into finding rest, I believe that the ultimate rest comes from God

Hello crowned Royals! I hope everyone of you are doing well in midst of all panic and fear around the world concerning the Corona virus. While all this is going on, God gave me this reminder and I want to share it with you just in case you are fearful right now. He said be still and know that he is God! I thought that was a great reminder for me as well because just a couple days ago I was faced with fear. This week I thought of writing on rest because a lot of us including myself can use some of it. Resting is an essential God given crown that most of us only relate to sleep, but I hope with this blog you look at rest beyond sleep. While sleep is important and necessary, we also need to know that there is rest beyond sleep. How do we find rest in the midst of what sometimes feels like a never ending race?

Race and Pace

Have you ever competed in a race or observed another person compete in a race? Notice how pace is dependent on the distance of any type of race? Running is competitive and pace matters because it is what determines the win. A runner in a short distance race requires fast pace while a marathon runner is better off keeping a steady pace. There is a reason why these different racers decide the pace for their race and it is evident that one compared to the other requires a regulated pace because of the distance. I always compare our lives to a marathon runner because of the long distance we have to take in order to get to the place of rest. The unfortunate thing is that most of us prefer to keep a fast pace for a long distance race and we get frustrated when we are unable to find rest. I say so because there were times I wanted to maintain a fast pace for what requires a regulated pace. I did it in school, relationships, career growth and the list goes on. Have you ever experienced that too? I bet you have! And I totally understand. Once we wake up every morning it is almost like we already begin to compete with the hours of the day and as if that is not enough we compete with so much more. Think about all the competing thoughts in your mind and your competitive nature towards others that often leaves you restless and missing out on what could be a restful life. I know it is a lot, but many of us do it even without consciously knowing what is going on. I hope we begin to regulate our pace and start to find rest.

Finding your rest beyond sleep

For someone that appreciates physical sleep, I have also found such great importance in mental rest. When you find your mental rest, getting enough physical rest is a walk in the park. Once you are able to bring your unrest to God, regulate your pace and know when and when not to react to situations that would take away your rest, you will be able to find your rest. Not an easy task if you ask me, but by the grace of God and determination to get rest you found some. If I found rest in all my restless days, so can you! But you would have to want it bad enough to be able to find it. Here is how you do it;

  • Have an honest conversation with yourself about what pace you are currently maitaining. Is it fast? or regulated? or no pace at all?
  • Think of the past, current, future situations in your own life that take away your rest. (write them down)
  • Bring all these situations before God because he is the God that gives your rest.
  • Identify people that take away your rest.
  • Maintain your distance from people that take away your rest, but still love them. (side note: people pleasing is not cool. especially at the expense of your rest)
  • Remind yourself that life is not a competition, mind your own and keep your pace. (manage your time well on social media)

There are several ways one can find rest, the ones listed are what worked for me in finding my rest. While putting the effort into finding rest, I believe that the ultimate rest comes from God. God gives you rest once you bring it before him in confidence. There are many situations, thoughts and people that can easily take away rest or give us a reason to fast pace, but when God is involved he brings rest and regulates our pace. It is a beautiful thing! Don’t believe me? Here is some scripture for you;

31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31 (NIV)

I want to end this blog with my thought on the bible verse above. While many of us are coming and going, God calls out to a quiet place with him to find our rest. Our rest is found in him and so our efforts to finding rest should lean towards him. The way we pace ourselves and eventually find our rest is determined by God’s involvement. The beautiful thing with God’s rest is that even when situations around you can easily take away your rest, once you go with him to a quiet place, he gives your rest. Do your part first and may your soul find rest in Christ alone! It is time to take your rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns.

Much Love,

Xholiwe

The Unexpected Blessing of Suffering

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Hey Crowned Royals! I hope you are doing wonderful! It is hard to believe that we are already in a new month and this close to spring. There is something about seasons changing that always reminds me that even the suffering we go through in our lives will pass too just like the seasons. I thought this week we should talk about suffer and I will start us off with this question. What are the unexpected blessings that come from suffering? I am reading a wonderful book by Nika Maples called Hunting Hope that will help us answer this question and see the unexpected blessings in our suffering. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it! (am not being paid to say this, but it is a good book especially if are losing hope and want to hunt for it!

Suffering by definition is the state of going through pain, distress or hardship, and we all have been there sometime in our lives. How did suffering come into your life? was it the lose of a loved one, was it financial struggle or stressful work-life balance? We all have been there so please don’t feel alone. There are many reasons why we despise our time of suffering and if I could share a list we would see a lot of similarities. While we all have legit reasons to despise our suffering, we also fail to understand the reasons for it. In my on sufferings I never understood why it had to be me to go through harder situations and I am guessing you too have felt that way. It is not until I went through the entirety of my suffering that made it clear to me there was not just one, but several unexpected blessings God showed me later. Is there any unexpected blessing that came from your suffering?

Our initial struggle with suffering as human as we are is that we are creatures of comfort and suffering let’s be honest brings discomfort. Because we want the immediate comfort, we either hasten ourselves to get out of the suffering or find comfort in the pain. Those of us that hasten find ourselves seeking comfort in the wrong things and miss the blessings because we needed a quick fix. Those of us that find comfort in pain lose hope and miss the blessings because enduring the suffering till the end felt impossible. I don’t know where you fall in these two categories, but I know from my experience that there always comes blessings from your suffering. Two sure blessings that come from suffering that Nika Maples shared in her book were refined character and oneness with Christ. We will look at both blessings in this blog and hopefully by the end of this read you will understand why you had to suffer for a season.

The blessing of a refined character

Ever thought you could polish up your character and be a better person for you and others? Well, hard to believe that the blessing of suffering refines our character. How is that even possible when you feel defeated to refine your character? That is the whole point, suffering will almost give you a version of yourself that you often couldn’t see because you were comfortable. It is in that very difficult time that our characters are refined and we see the good, the bad and the ugly of ourselves. Have you ever seen an arrogant wealthy man lose all his money remain the same arrogant man after suffering a financial loss? What happens to the wealthy man is that his arrogance is revealed in his suffering and that is an opportunity for him to change that or now become an arrogant poor man. The whole point of this example is for you to think of yourself and what parts of your own character can be refined by your past or current suffering. God wants to work with us, but he needs to refine us and refining happens in the heat of our suffering. Gold is refined in fire for reason, the heat from the fire sheds of the impurity from the gold and makes it pure. Without the heat it is impossible to purify the gold and present it to the world. Your character goes through the exact process as the gold, so the choice is on you. Do you turn the heat off and miss the blessing of refined character or endure till the end and come out refined? Here are a couple of scriptures on refined character;

Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty says:

“See, I will refine and test them,
    for what else can I do
    because of the sin of my people? Jeremiah 9:7 (NIV)

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
    but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3 (NIV)

See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
    I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10 (NIV)

The Blessing of Oneness with God

How do we become one with God? We become partakers in his suffering. Through our own suffering we are able to fully understand God’s sufferings and we too can boast in our own sufferings that created endurance. I am enamored by several people in the bible, but when it comes to suffering and endurance, I learn a lot from Paul. Paul was a mighty man of God who experienced so much persecution for the sake of the gospel. He suffered for what Jesus suffered for, the truth to reach all people. The blessing of oneness with God is that you will also like Paul suffer for the truth and later you will be greatly rewarded for you shared in the sufferings. Oneness with God is a blessing because God now can entrust you to give truth to others. When we come into oneness with God through suffering, we are then well prepared for the sufferings we have not even experienced yet. God equips you for the suffering you endure and brings you to a place of understanding. However, if you lack the understanding of your suffering, you will be unable to comprehend where God has equipped you so that you are able to endure. Hence the need of oneness with God that allows for a clear understanding of your suffering aligned to his own sufferings.

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1 v 5-7 (NIV)

Last words, there is comfort in Jesus. The unexpected blessings of suffering are far more worth than the temporal fix of comfort or lose of hope. There is no need to hasten yourselves when God is helping refine your character so that it is more like his own. While suffering is difficult, your endurance and perseverance will surely create good character, which is such a great blessing for you and others around you. With refined character God is able to use you for his glory. Also, while you take part in your sufferings, you take part in his for the sake of the gospel. With your sufferings, you join some of the mighty men and women of God such as Paul that endured for the sake of truth and the received his greatest blessing, the oneness with God and the reward of eternal life in Christ. Use your suffering as training and testing ground! Do not despise it. It is time for us take our rightful place. It is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love,

Xholiwe

Masks Off: Your honesty with God

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Hey Crowned Royals! I don’t know about you, but these winter days are what I live for, which also means I should be working out little more because all these holiday treats are not helping this sister out. While winter is not for everyone, I hope you make the most out it this year. On a less wintry note, I wanted as to talk about masks and how masks have kept most of us from being honest with God regarding who we truly are, where we are in life and how we hope God works in our lives.

Here is a disclaimer, this blog is not going to address physical masks that are visible to the human eye, we will talk about the masks that are impossible for human eye to identify, but there a lot of masked people right now. Solely, the purpose of a mask is to hide the true identity of a person. We all know that from the superhero movies we watch right? Marvel fan moment here, how messy would it be if people knew Spider-man’s true identity? I am guessing pretty messy because true identity is not always well received by others. Also, being able to say I am spider-man to everyone down the street without fear of being rejected, made fun of, and ridiculed would be wonderful. I hope you are thinking of your masks right about now because we have all worn some or continue to, at least I know I have. I wore the masks that misidentified me and rid me of who I truly was, where I was at in life and how I hoped things would change. I eventually came to realization that my masks had to come off, because I would still be doing well with keeping the masks on and acting like I had life figured out. So maybe you too have some masks on right now and are acting like you have life figured out, but like always I am here to burst your perfect little bubble. A life lived behind a mask only gives you so much to survive and never enough to thrive in who you truly are. You most certainly are surviving to keep up with the act, and from my experience, it can be exhausting. It can be exhausting to act like you are happy, when you are not. It can exhausting to act like you have money, when you don’t and the list is endless. If you are exhausted with all the acts, it maybe time to take those masks off and come clean with who you are, where you are at in life and where you need God to bring you. How do you do that you ask? Well, you get honest with God first. Are you honest with God?

Our honesty to God is not possible with masks on, if anything, it actually is a barrier. Perfect example is when Adam and Eve realized their were naked and hid in the bushes to cover up their sin towards God. While we are not hiding behind bushes, we surely have had some form of covering to mask some things in our lives. But wasn’t God still merciful and showed Adam and Eve grace? Yes! Despite their mess, he still provided them some form of covering that was not as shameful as hiding behind bushes. Most of us, have not stepped out of the bush or behind that mask because we fear, we are shamed, we are prideful, guilty and the list goes on. It will take complete honesty to come up out of that mask and own up to God. The beautiful thing about taking the mask off and being honest with God is that he gives you grace. I feel like often times we complicate grace and altogether miss it, but I listened to pastor Hart Ramsey this week, and he said something that I thought you can apply to your life. Pastor Hart Ramsey said this, “trying to get God to accept who you pretend to be will not render grace from him, but rather God is trying to get to the real you”. The you that messed up time and time again is the person God would render his grace to, not the person who you have decided to mask up in hopes that God will work some magic. God is not a magician, he is God. We often mistake God for people, and because we have experienced evil from the people we were honest with, we liken God to them. That my friend, is a wrong way to approach God in all honesty. God needs to see that vulnerability that we often hide from people in fear that we will be different. Our openness allows God the permission to work on us, after he renders grace, he works on us. Grace will unmask us and then allow us to know who we really are, where we are in life and where we want God to bring us to. When the masks come off, be prepared to see the good and the bad about you. When in the process of unmasking, don’t be quick to cover up again because all you see about you is bad, but rather let God know about it. He will be glad to work with an honest person that is willing to change and live a mask free life. Here is some scripture that tells you it is okay to unmask yourself;

13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4 v 13 (NIV)

There is no use hiding from God. He sees you, the real you. You maybe doing well with painting this false picture to your friends and family, but not with God. The scripture says that Nothing! Nothing is hidden in all creation to God. We exposed and naked before him, but unfortunately we also have convinced ourselves that God needs people that are perfect and can only speak in KJV. My bible says that he came for the sinners, not the perfect, he came to render mercy and desired it for sinners (read Matthew 9 v 9-13). The truth is that God is always willing to work with you, but only if you come to him in all honesty.

My last words, Be honest with God. Let him know exactly what is going on and do not leave out anything. You may even have to revisit some past experience to figure out why you wear certain masks, once you discover why, take that to God in all honesty. Have no fear for God has a covering for you, his grace! Allow for the all so powerful, loving, gentle and graceful heavenly father to help you through this process. Masks off! It is time to take our rightful place! it is time to trade thorns for crowns!

Much Love Royal Fam!

Xholiwe