Find Rest for Your Restless Heart
For a long time, I woke up feeling anxious. I would run through the list of possible causes, and as the busyness of the day kicked in, the anxiety would settle into the background - it wouldn’t be gone, just less dominating.
I grew tired of this feeling and it became a serious point of prayer. Was I just tired? Was I not eating healthy? Or was it something more serious?
I discovered that my anxiety was connected to a misplaced longing. Without realizing it, I had allowed myself to put my value and worth in things that could never satisfy. My morning anxiety was the product of a war between my spirit and flesh.
My flesh cried out, "You will find satisfaction in accomplishments and recognition. Just do more, be more disciplined, set goals, and achieve them—then you will be content."
My spirit resisted.
My flesh lied in my ear, '"You're getting old! Soon what little relevance you have left will be gone. You need to work twice as hard to compensate for lost youth."
My spirit knew better.
Each morning, I would confess my conflicted heart before God, asking Him for answers. Slowly, God cleared my head and calmed my heart. He exposed all of the hidden motivations and underlying deceptions that drove my behaviors.
One by one, God showed me that those things would never satisfy the longings of my heart - He alone could do that. And so I started to let them go.
My hunger and thirst for God were renewed in a simple and beautiful way. For so long, I had sought “God and...” I learned that the remedy for my restless heart was to eliminate the "and" and only pursue God.
As A.W. Tozer says in his seminal book, The Pursuit of God, "If we omit the 'and' we shall soon find God, and in Him, we shall find that for which we all our lives have been secretly longing."
I think the greatest threat to a fulfilled life is our failure to accept that God is truly all we need. Whether consciously or not, too many of us have bought into the lie that He is not enough.
We live by the flawed cliché, "If I don't take care of myself, no one will."
This lie sends us headlong down the same dead ends as the world, and the tragedy is that we should know better.
Some of the blame resides in a distortion of biblical truth. Post-reformation Christianity rightly corrected the heresy of works-based salvation, but for many it led to an over-correction.
Too many people "accept Jesus" and move on as if the journey is complete. They fear that any additional activity would be "religious," and so bypass the cultivation of a rich and deeply satisfying relationship with God. Being "saved" is just the beginning, yet sadly for these Christians, it is also the end. It’s like seeing your wedding day as the culmination, rather than the beginning, of your marriage.
The great paradox of this divine love relationship is that we continue pursuing God long after we have found Him.
Ultimately, I am grateful for those anxious mornings because they exposed the error of my thinking, and illuminated the path of true contentment. But the journey didn't end there. I am constantly renewing my thinking, and resisting my old ways.
If you find yourself like I did - burdened by a dull anxiety and haunted by discontentment - stop what you are doing, and go back to the basics.
Resist the temptation to add things to God and instead pursue Him alone. Believe as Tozer wrote that, "The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One."
When you realize this, you will find rest for your restless heart.