When I was 12, my dad spent a season teaching me how to shoot a bow and arrow.
At the time, I hated it. With shaky hands, I awkwardly strained to pull back the bow. My arms ached from the tension as I barely held the string in place. When the bow finally released, the arrow skittered jaggedly, missing the target. Disappointed and frustrated, I wanted to quit.
But my dad encouraged me to stick with it. In his care, he came alongside me. Wrapping his arms around me, he guided my aim back with gentle support. I leaned into his firm foundation as he whispered words about my target. He steadied and gently encouraged me, then when I was ready, to release.
In those moments of my father’s steady guidance, I rested in his strength. I allowed his wise instruction to direct my actions. In his hands, my experience changed from efforting to effortless.
What if my own daily walk could be a little more effortless?
Many of my days feel like that same 12-year-old me, struggling and flailing away. I'm pressing, stressing, and striving. I'm working hard at working hard. No one is making harsh demands on me, but I'm acting as if they are. I know no one is ever the perfect Christian. But for me, I simply want to deeply know what God desires and not struggle so much to do it.
Truly, I want my life to be about being up to good for God.
Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (NIV)
I want that. I want my ordinary faith to be gentle, restful, sure. I want it to be like shooting arrows with my dad – confident, strong, effortless. When I can lay down my own tightly fisted plans, I am able to hear God’s longings for me. When I can rest in knowing I'm more than my own ego, it takes the pressure off. I can rest in the firm foundation that I am up to something greater than me. I am up to something good for God.
The more I am learning about faith, the more I think effortless faith starts with rest.
To be clear, having effortless faith doesn't mean things are suddenly easy. But I think it's about a posture of confidence, knowing the source of your strength. It's about recognizing it's not all on you or on me. We can trust and rest in God.
Whether or not you are a Jesus person, I think we can all agree we are better humans when we rest. I don't think it's a coincidence that real rest allows us to feel better. With real rest, I tend to listen well and am able to see more and purposely address more in my day. It makes perfect sense that resting well in Christ invites us into a solid place of nourishment for our body and our soul.
What does real rest look like?
I think this is different for everyone. For me personally, I have to seek God's face and spend time simply listening. Sometimes it's diving deep into scripture. Sometimes it's journaling what's on my heart. Sometimes it's prayer and asking for help. Still, I don't always get the resting thing right and it becomes painfully obvious to all those around me. When I can remind myself to return to the place of true rest, I can set it all down and invite God to lead.
When we rest first, we align our days with Him.
Every day that we are given, we have the chance to begin with rest. From the unique quiver of our lives, we draw all of our tasks, hopes, and dreams. Then, we are invited to settle into the work of aiming, while allowing the hands of the Father to guide us.
We can effort against the tension — or we can lean back into His strength. There is work to be done, arrows to load, targets to place. But when we remember He is the point and the purpose, we can rest easy that all we say and do points to Him.