Sometimes the most lush and beautiful places aren't what they seem.
Living along the coast of East Africa, our surroundings were beautiful, with white sand beaches, palm trees, warm temperatures, and fresh coconut milk enjoyed in every dish. On our drive to the city, I would look out the window and be in awe that this beautiful place was my home.
But, there were other times when life was hard, with termites ravaging my bookshelf, a snake slithering into the house, a husband sick with malaria, and suddenly thoughts of this beautiful place turn to, “if only...”
“If only I had a cement house…”
“If only the hospital wasn’t so far away…”
“If only we were back in Canada…”
(“If only I could eat a saskatoon pie…” )
The list could go on. It seemed that “if only” some of my longings would come true, the hardship would go away, life would be better.
Certainly there were things that could have made life easier, but in that moment, I wasn’t looking for a quick fix, I was looking for something to soothe the fear and frustration that were building in my soul, and by looking at the grass, which is always greener on the other side, I could, mistakenly, set my hopes.
The Choice of Greener Grass
Abraham and Lot lived on the same area of land, with all their families, herds and herdsmen. Their wealth became so vast that the resources around them were diminishing, and arguments ensued; everyone requiring pasture and water for all their needs.
They decide to split up and move in different directions.
Standing atop a magnificent viewpoint, Lot chose the section of land that looked lush and well-watered for his own, so Abraham took the other. It didn’t work out great for Lot. He was taken captive by enemy kings. Then, after Abraham rescues him, Lot remains surrounded by the evil practices of Sodom, becoming the lone righteous man in town. At the arrival of God’s angels, announcing God’s coming wrath, he flees with his family.
Not exactly the circumstances he had hoped for when he chose the beautiful valley.
Even Abraham finds himself in difficult times, struggling with what was and what he longed for in a child. But as for Abraham, he trusted that God would prove faithful to him, no matter where he went, no matter what his circumstances were.
Do we trust that God is faithful, no matter what our circumstances are? Even when the places we walk aren’t lush and prosperous?
An Invitation to Find Rest
This week, we may find ourselves in lockdown fatigue. (We might’ve already been here for a long time). We find ourselves wishing, “if only….” These thoughts grab hold of our minds, cause our angst to rise, and set us on a path of believing the grass is greener on the other side.
Friend, here’s our invitation to worship today. The grass isn’t greener on the other side because our wishes are fulfilled, they are greener when we find our satisfaction, our purpose, and our rest in our Savior alone.
Just as Abraham trusted God in the middle of his own uncertain future, settling in a land not his own, without a child to carry on his name, we too settle our hearts in trusting that God is faithful to us in our own uncertain futures, as we feel our frustration rise.
Augustine of Hippo famously writes, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Our restless hearts want to find contentment and satisfaction in doing everything we used to do, in gaining back our “freedoms,” which can be good, purposeful, godly things.
But first, we need to settle our hearts with our great Shepherd, who leads us to green pastures and near quiet waters, the only one who can restore our soul.
How will you find rest in your Savior today?