Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cease Striving

Have you ever seen a sculpture of a beautiful woman hanging laundry on a clothes line, scrubbing floors or cooking?  I couldn't recall any, so I checked.  Maybe I just don't know where to look, but I found very few statues of laboring women.  Granted, a couple sculptures showed women carrying pottery, such as a jar or empty plate.  The hardest working female statue I found was the Statue of Liberty and she carried both a torch AND a book!  Oh, yes, and there was also that one woman pulling a goat along side her.  Yet, out of all the statues that I found, none of these ladies portrayed strain or stress on their faces.  After all, who would want to ponder a woman toiling over her life?  A peaceful woman at rest is a thing of beauty.  Artist have known this for centuries!  The tranquil face and quiet soul of these statues captivates us.

Now, on the other hand, when I looked up statues of men, I found them throwing disks, wielding swords, fighting battles, and one was even holding the world on his shoulders...literally.  Symbols of strength and courage.  These were equally captivating as the faces of these men with furrowed brows, showed intense determination and grit.  There is a time for all things, but I think the intrigue of the warrior is easier for me understand.  He's "doing" something.  I can see the results of his struggle right before my eyes.

One night when I was feeling overwhelmed with all the activities I'd committed to, I started asking God how I was to manage my heavy schedule when I felt I had so little left to offer.  I came across a verse that jumped off the page.  It wasn't the answer I thought I'd find.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation.  In quietness and trust is your strength..."  Isaiah 30:15

I didn't need to learn to be a better juggler for Jesus so I could fit more things into a schedule. I needed to learn to stop and be still.  My sister and I have been going through the 12 steps of P.A. (Pharisees Anonymous) together these past years and at step 5 decided to start reading the Bible from the Message and other translations at times. (*gasp!*)  She called me one day and said, "You know that verse that says, 'Be still and know that I am God',  it could also read, 'Cease striving'.  Isn't that a great way to think of it?"  For a couple of girls who'd been used to "staying busy" for Jesus, this seemed a whole new concept.  We began talking about beautiful, peaceful statues and paintings.  We'd seen the movie Pride and Prejudice, and both loved the scene where Elizabeth walked through the hall of statues.  We shared the same longing for the tranquility these marble forms expressed.

I've thought about this conversation with my sister many times these past couple years and  I can't help but remember the statues of these beautiful ladies.  Their creators captured the essence of peace. They captured what it looks like to "cease striving".  Not a single one of these women look lazy.  They are peaceful.  At rest.  Quiet.

There is a time for all things:  A time to "put on the armor" and "watch the ant".  But there is also a time for quiet...where I can hear His whisper.  And in quietness and trust is my strength.  Shh....

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