Come Rest Under the Shade of the TreeGeorge Shamblin
If the first thought to accost you when you woke up this morning went like this: “Oh no, how am I going to get through another day,” the Gospel directly invites you: “come rest in the shade of the tree.”
- If the toxicity at your workplace is already felt in your gut the second you open your eyes, the Gospel begins to gently whisper, “come rest in the shade of the tree.”
- Perhaps your spouse feels distant at best, or totally unfamiliar at worst, causing you to wonder, “how did we ever get here?” If so, the Gospel’s call increases in volume, “come rest in the shade of the tree.”
- If you’ve got a child in a horrible, terrible space, beating yourself up, asking, “where did we go wrong?” The Gospel broadcasts loudly, “come rest in the shade of the tree!”
For us today, the concept of shade is a pleasant convenience. But it could determine life or death for those who lived when the Bible was written. To hear, therefore, the Lord of creation offer up the following held tremendous sway:
I will plant it on the mountain heights of Israel so that it will bear branches; it will yield fruit and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every kind will nest under it, taking shelter in the shade of its branches. (Ez. 17:23)
When (the mustard seed) is planted it grows up, and becomes greater than all the garden plants, and produces great branches, so that the birds of the air are able to encamp under its shadow. (Mk. 4:32)
To rest under a shade tree figuratively meant “to take up quarters there, to pitch one’s tent underneath it.” You may recall how the Israelites “pitched their tents” whenever the pillars overhead stood still (whether by day or by night). To dwell with their God meant being still when He was still and getting a move on when He moved. You were safe remaining in camp; to remove yourself from His presence entailed grave danger.
I fear many of you are exhausting yourself to death by refusing to go where God is and, heaven forbid, being still once you arrive. The question then becomes, what can be done? I’ll leave you with three first-person suggestions so you can make them your own:
# 1 – GO rest with Him
Dallas Willard states, “God has an address; it’s at the end of your rope.” My trial is, therefore, an opportunity to Go rest with Him…He is my Shade tree! Today for thirty minutes, I have no excuse but to be entirely still and rest in Him. I’ll do so by reading and praying through Isaiah 55 (today!).
# 2 – Don’t sell my weaknesses short
If the Father of Creation can cause streams to flow in the heart of a desert and provide spring waters to the redeemed among scorched places, He is fully capable of strengthening me, the exhausted, and making me, the feeble, strong. (I’ll read Isaiah 35 shortly). There’s a reason for all He does, and for this there is a purpose: If it’s nothing but displaying His glory through my hurt and sorrow, it must be His will. I need to pray let it be done.”
# 3 – I need that far look. I can now rest my eyes.
My mother cut out this devotion for me years ago, and it’s stuck with me ever since:
A woman whose work demanded constant reading began to have difficulty with her eyes, so she consulted a physician. After a thorough examination, he said, “Your eyes are just tired; you need to rest them.” “But,” she replied, “that is impossible in my type of work.” After a few moments, the doctor asked, “Do you have windows at your workplace?” “Oh, yes,” she answered with enthusiasm, “From the front windows, I can see the noble peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and from the windows, I can look out at the glorious Allegheny foothills.” The physician replied, “That is exactly what you need. When your eyes feel tired, go look at the mountains for 10 minutes– 20 would be better– and the far look will rest your eyes.” What is true in the physical realm is true in the spiritual realm. The eyes of the soul are often tired and weary from focusing on our problems and difficulties. The upward look–the far look-can restore your spiritual perspective.
So my friend in Jesus, go ahead and rest with God. Don’t sell your weaknesses short because The Lord can use them. And finally, you could use that far look, so go ahead and rest your eyes.