“Faith is to rest, not in the best of God’s servants, but in His unchanging Word.”
– Harry Ironside
Have you ever felt defeated? A loss left your soul sinking? A discouragement drained your energy? Your heart is heavy. Your mind is burdened. Images and thoughts paralyze you, and your whole body wants to crumble to the ground. The outside world may see us as happy and fine, but inside we break down in sorrow. Our hope burns out in the furnace of our soul like coals losing their fire.
Will we find rejuvenating rest for our restless worries? Will we find a place for healing for our hopeless hearts? Most of us are weary from hearing I Peter 5:7. Casting our cares on God and nailing our hurts to the cross has become more of a t-shirt slogan than truth for healing.
How can we actually rest and find healing before we continue in the journey God has for us?
Let’s look at a great example from The Lord of the Rings. The fellowship, on their way to Mordor to destroy the Ring, passed through the Mines of Moria. Here, Gandalf (the wizard) battles the Balrog (an evil creature from the depths). The battle is epic, but ends in tears – Watch the Scene Here
Our hearts groan with the characters as Gandalf perishes, and the only action the fellowship can do is lament and morn. They are out in the open, vulnerable, and defenseless. However, Aragorn and Legolas lead them to Lothlórien (a place of the elves) for rest and protection. Lothlórien is watched over by Galadriel.
But, what is Lothlórien? What is special about this place? It is described in the musical adaptation of The Lord of the Rings – Watch Scene Here. How is Lothlórien described? What is promised by Galadriel?
We yearn for a place like that. Our soul thirsts for the promises of Lothlórien.
Yet, we already we have our Lothlórien.
Here You Will Ever Belong
Galadriel refers to weary travelers seeking rest as “Son of my yearning” and “Daughter of hope.” These two titles fills us with the same love we long for. We want to be yearned for and to be filled with hope.
God refers to us in similar terms. Romans 8:15-16 declares us as God’s sons and daughters, children, and heirs of Christ. He yearned for us to be his children enfolded in his arms even when we reject him (Matthew 23:37). In his love, he took our death to give us hope (Romans 5:1-8). We are his children of his yearning, and we are his children of hope.
Our earthly families may disown us, and we become displaced. However, with Jesus, we have a place we will ever belong. Psalm 27 promises, even if we feel like wanderers, a place of safety and love with God. We may wander, but, with being the children of God through Jesus, we are never lost.
You are God’s beautiful child of his song (Zephaniah 3:17).
Although Storms May Descend
Although we are claimed by Jesus, we are not promised a life of green meadows and peaceful streams. Snakes slither in the grass. Water turns tumultuous. The sun withers the soft, green grass into prickly, brown bramble. Jesus directly states we will suffer in this world (John 16:33). But, Jesus promises peace. It is not a peace of a lotus position. It is a peace which will go beyond our comprehension, and nestles deep in our souls (Philippians 4:7).
He knows the storms which descend on our fragility. It may be rejection. It may be an illness. It may be the fear of a new chapter of life. What storm rocks your mental and emotional stability? What anxiety causes your feet to grip for stability on the rocking ship deck tossed by the waves? We fear the storm, and we forget Jesus is in the boat and on the waves (Mark 4:35-41; Matthew 14:22-23).
His presence invites us to go to him with our worry so he can calm the waves. His outreached hand steadies us as we step out of the boat onto the waves as he journeys with us through the storm.
Although storms may descend and mountains may quake, Jesus stands with us bestowing rest and peace as he promised (Matthew 11:28-29).
Before The Wind And Fire I Stand
We may have a name and peace, but we still struggle to stand in our battles. Our knees buckle under the weight we endure. Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps does not work. The straps of our self-determination rip, and back in the dust we collapse. Frustrated tears dirty our cheeks.
Our tears are misplaced.
Frustration is anger at our lack of self-strength. We were never meant to walk the Christian life on our own. Rule following and image keeping will not be a buttress before windstorms and fire. Our efforts to calm storms in our own strength will only leave us with fearful and faithless frustration (Matthew 8:26).
Instead, God promises he will stand and walk with us through the fire and the wind (Isaiah 43:2). He stands before the wind and fire. He walks through the storm leading the way. He is the stability we need as we move forward.
The fire and wind may be a situation. It may be people. It may be misjudgments about you. It may be slander. Fire may seek to burn us alive as we walk through it, but Jesus walks with us. We may be singed, but we are not destroyed (II Corinthians 4:8-9).
Jesus stands before our fires and winds embracing us in his arms.
Resting In The Garden Of Wonder
Lothlórien is called the Garden Wonder. The fellowship is invited to rest here before the journey continues. Each promise of Lothlórien is found in Scripture. Yet, Lothlórien was not the final destination for the fellowship. It was not the end of their quest. It was a Place of Not Yet. Galadriel promises rest, safety, and revitalizing courage to press on to Mordor. Fear of orcs and enemies clouded the minds of the fellowship, yet they could only fully rest when they gave up control to the one who promised.
It is the same with us. We are in the Place of Not Yet. Discouragement, fear, and sorrow clouds our minds. Yet, God has given us our Lothlórien – our personal time with him. When we spend time in his words and in his presence, we boldly walk into the Lothlórien he created for us (Hebrews 4:15-16). It is not the will power of believing his promises which give us rest. It is only when we surrender our strivings we will receive the rest and peace promised.
Surrender is how we live in the promises of God. Memorizing the promises and quoting them in our heads will do no good until we surrender to them. We need to become Peter. We cannot just agree with God his promises are true. We must step out of the boat and experience their reality. Surrender brings about beauty. We no longer look at the shadows and storms. Instead, the world becomes the garden of wonder watercolored by the paintbrush of God (Romans 1:9-20). We are without excuse when we can’t see the wonder of life God has given us. He has plainly shown us his paint strokes in creation, his fingerprints in our lives, and his threads weaving a tapestry of beauty telling our story.
Give up the energy of forcing God’s promises to happen. They will happen whether you want or not. Following the Holy Spirt is more difficult than following a list of rules. Surrender, and you will rest in the Lothlórien God has given to us found in his presence through his Word, prayer, and following the Spirit. Wipe the frustrated tears from your eyes and behold the wondrous provision of God to move you where he wants you.
Lothlórien is our place to rest before we continue. It is a place to surrender to God’s promises. His promises provides the strength to spark our courage into a flame lighting the path he creates specifically for each person (Psalm 139:13-16).
Breathe. Wipe the tears from your eyes. Surrender your lists and self-determination to God. Then he will take your face in his hands and with a gentle authority in his voice will say, “For your days that remain, this is the promise I make enfolded in my arms.”