“Be revealed to me as the
only fitting and suitable place of rest
where my soul is truly satisfied.”
/ Part I /
Good morning friends! I can’t think of a more illuminating way to begin a new day than to soak up this prayer from the pen of John Owen and make it our own. What Marie Kondo is to all the unnecessary stuff that clutters our closets and drawers, Owen is to words on a page. His are carefully edited thoughts, leaving us with only the truly important. Here is depth and beauty packed into a single sentence, waiting to be opened up and applied. Let’s dive in!
“Be revealed to me …”
A prevalent blind spot as Christ followers in the twenty-first century is that we often possess a less than humble, teachable heart. We’ve heard so much, read so much, debated so much, and concluded so much that the notion of quietly listening and allowing His word to instruct us can be challenging at times. Acknowledging our childlike dependence on Him to make known and disclose who He is is the best place to start. After all, our lives are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2) This also encompasses an experiential knowledge of God’s mercy, love, faithfulness, sovereignty, goodness, trustworthiness, kindness, holiness — all His wonderful attributes — cultivated in times of both blessing and testing.
“… as the only…”
Honestly, the word only trips me up. You too? What a small but mighty word that dares claim exclusivity over our hearts. It means “without others or anything further”. Alone. Solely. It strips away excess and leaves no room for add-ons of any kind. It shuts out all else from having a part or share of our supreme dependence and affection. Such a counter-culture truth to own and I suspect a life-long lesson for many of us.
“… fitting and suitable …”
When something is fitting and suitable it’s just right. It’s the right size or shape, the right remedy or solution; it’s more than adequate to meet the need. Quite simply, it works perfectly; completing what is missing and satisfying in a way nothing else can. By comparison, all other options are lacking, flawed, and ill-conceived to supply for the demand. We often forget that what is perfectly suited to meet our needs on our journey through the temporal, can never satisfy our deepest need for what is eternal. Jeremiah Burroughs in his book “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” wrote: “a little in the world will content a Christian for his passage, but all the world will never content him for his portion.” I constantly need reminding of this truth.
” … place of rest …”
Rest. Oh, how we need rest. Schedules filled to the brim, our lives overflowing with busyness — most of it even good — and yet we can be so empty. It’s remarkable how heavy empty can feel. This stanza from a W.H. Auden poem recalls with vivid imagery how that can seem, written long before an age of plugged in minds, saturated with information and messaging of every kind, and non-stop days as we often flit from one diversion to another. I suppose it’s been part of the human condition as far back as the fall.
“Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.”
So then, imagine the joy and freedom when God is revealed to us as our place of rest. The Old Testament is rich with the language of rest; a place where we find refreshment, weariness finds relief, and we cease our striving (Jeremiah 31:25, Isaiah 58:11, Isaiah 55:2.) The longing that could never be satisfied, no matter what we did or had, is finally filled. Now, our still full calendar prioritizes “doing” with new purpose. John Flavel, a contemporary of Owen, sums it up like this: “Christ bounds and terminates the vast desires of the soul. He is the very Sabbath of the soul.” Real rest. Our Sabbath.
” … where my soul is truly satisfied.”
Genuinely, authentically satisfied. Abundance that meets our needs; contentment that ends our striving and from His hand, ample provision to “satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16).
Gotta be honest — I struggle with each of these marks of maturity. In true form, Owen has shown in just a few words what it looks like to be “all in”! It’s intense and a little intimidating. If you’re anything like me, this can often seem a losing proposition with one step forward and two steps back. But what encouragement I find knowing our Heavenly Father is abidingly patient and kind. He only asks that we take His hand and follow. He doesn’t keep a tally of forward or backward, gains or losses. He’ll be faithful to complete His good work in us as we abide in Him.