Rest areas and my spirituality…

I think the idea of “resting in God’ is analogous to my experience of how a rest area works when my family traveled to Canada in the 80s and 90s. The distance between where we lived in Marietta, Georgia and my maternal grandmother’s place in Toronto was about 950 miles. Typically, it took anywhere between 14-15 hours to get there and dad always had his typical spots to stop which, if he was honest, was an attempt to beat the previous trip’s time. I am very similar to my dad in this regard as I always keep our van’s GPS on, not to find out where I am going, but simply to destroy the GPS’ estimated time of arrival.

You do the same thing…

Don’t lie….

Back to the story. When we got to the “rest area” it was anything but a rest with my dad. “Hurry up Rob! We got to get back on the road.” Of course, rushing was not an issue with me because my dad would go so long between stops that I often felt like a balloon filling up from a water faucet. I am surprised I didn’t wet myself on these trips or get multiple urinary track infections.

Although, my dad would give us an empty glass apple juice jar so that we could…

Nevermind.

My point is that terms like “rest area” and “restroom” (washroom if you’re from the north) usually are misnomers in my experience.

It is analogous to my experience of “resting in God.” I am not sure where I was when I first heard this quote from St. Augustine but the words still annoy me: “…for thou hast made us for thyself and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee.”[1] I probably used that quote in a sermon or class somewhere, but it still confuses me. I am sure it sounds sweet in a song or is a good quote that accents a point in a book but what the crap does it mean?

“Well Robbie, God wants just you and that means placing your trust in him.” What does that look like? “Robbie, it actually means we don’t need to place our hope in things that will disappoint us in the end. All you need is God and God is good enough.” Good enough for what? I am 37 years old and I still don’t know what it means to rest in God. I hear so many different voices (Google “Resting in God”) that speak to this, yet they are not sure either. Or they are a little too sure for my liking. One says God wants you to be content here while another says that all God wants you to do is this.

It’s a bit mind boggling.

I have enough self-awareness to know that a lot of this uneasiness about resting comes from my DNA. If it makes you feel better it comes from, “How God made me.” I do not like the status quo when it comes to many things in life but especially those things when it comes to churches. I fear what many call “resting in God” is simply a coping mechanism to not ruffle the feathers of the establishment or even worse, a way of simply controlling/getting what they want.

I have learned that one of the worst things a person can say to the establishment is a one-word question: “Why?”

The bad part of my restlessness is that I feel like I am the only one on this boat. My perception could be off but people all around me seem satisfied with things that bring security because it fits in their box at how they perceive the world or the metaphysical. I see it in their eyes that they long for something more, but they just can’t seem to bring themselves to go for it.

I love God very much but the search for him is exhausting.

24 God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in temples made with human hands. 25 Nor is God served by human hands, as though he needed something, since he is the one who gives life, breath, and everything else. 26 From one person God created every human nation to live on the whole earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us. 28 In God we live, move, and exist. As some of your own poets said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17.24-28; CEB)

I do find comfort knowing that my restlessness is still in the presence of God. God does not equate my relationship with him to how many times I show up at a corporate gathering or (thankfully) how many bible verses I put on (or don’t) my Instagram. Maybe I need to posit rest in the context like the word for Sabbath is used in the Hebrew Scriptures. Not a state of perfect contentment or ignorant bliss but a process of undoing for a fixed period.

I like that.

Undoing.

Deconstruction.

Rest.

Until then it seems l will always be like a pilgrim looking for a home until that home finally presents itself.

Here’s to wandering…

__________________________________

ENDNOTES…

[1] Confessions (1:1). http://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/augustine/conf.pdf

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