Fireside Lessons by Mary Southerland
And He said unto them, ‘Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while’ (Mark 6:31, KJV).
Friend to Friend
I have learned many lessons from my husband about how to do ministry. Dan is a people person and views strangers as friends he simply hasn’t met yet. But his heart beats for the lost man who seems to be running from God with every ounce of energy he has. Dan’s passion gave birth to the Fireside Ministry.
Every Sunday night men from all walks of life gather in our driveway around a fire pit to share what God is doing in their lives as well as the struggles they are experiencing. They ask for help. They pray for each other. Fireside time is a holy time where God shows up and works in amazing ways.
One Sunday night I slipped into the garage to grab something out of the refrigerator we keep there. When I heard Dan talking about the spaces we have to create in our lives, I stopped and listened.
For months, I had been brutally examining my life. I was very busy doing good things, but were those things ordained by God or tasks simply assigned by my own need to be seen and heard? I was tired and discouraged – ready to give up.
I sat down on the garage steps and listened as a master teacher laid out a life-changing truth for me.
Dan said, “I give Scott a hard time about his fire-building technique. But there is a truth here for all of us about the spaces we need to have in our lives. Scott cannot stand to see space in a fire. The minute one of the logs burns through, Scott jumps up and replaces it with two logs … and the fire always struggles to keep burning. Here’s why. A fire has to have space to burn its brightest. There has to be room for air to get through and fan the flames. If there are no spaces, the fire will soon die out because it can’t breathe.”
“Mary, you need space in your life … for Me,” the Father whispered to my heart.
I immediately knew what I had to do. I had to lay down every commitment, every ministry, and every log in my life at the feet of Jesus. I was smothering the power of God because there were too many logs on my fire and no space for Him to fan the flames of His plans for me.
I’ve repeatedly tried to defy my God-given need for rest, thinking that I’m somehow above both the occurrence and consequences of exhaustion. Some urgent task will always call my name, as will that person whose life will absolutely disintegrate before my eyes if I don’t do something right now. My ego loves those deadly toxic strokes that are from the pit and smell like smoke.
Stress shouts, “Get busy! There is so much to do!” Stress applauds and dances with delight as I keep on “doing” instead of “being.”
Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very nervous. I want to know what the plan is and how that plan is going to be implemented. Details! I need details! Instead, God calls me to rest.
I don’t want to rest.
When I rest, I feel guilty. I have places to go, people to see, and important things to do. I hear the quiet whisper of the One who knows me best and loves me most, “Mary, it is time to rest.”
In Psalm 23:2 the psalmist writes, “He lets me rest.” Don’t let that gentle statement fool you. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says it this way, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” I can personally testify to the fact that the word “makes” holds a world of possibilities in the hands of our creative God.
Throughout the years God has gently grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent loving Father and well aware of just how much rest we need and when we need it.
We will rest – one way or another. The logs will come off and space will be created for our good and His glory. God’s love will see to it.
Father, forgive me for the arrogance that keeps me on the run, trying to prove my worth. Teach me how to rest in You, Lord. Help me learn how to say “no” to those things that keep me from sitting at Your feet. Give me a hunger and thirst for You that can only be satisfied by time alone with You. I love You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Consider the following questions. Record your answers in your journal.
Why does it really mean to “be still before God”? What “time thieves” do I need to eliminate from my schedule? What long-term commitment do I need to make concerning rest? What areas of my life are out of control and need to be submitted to God?