“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
I have been saying for the last few weeks that I feel like God has been putting me on the bench. Do you know the feeling?
Within the past year, I have been handed numerous things, only for them to be enjoyed and then taken away. A mission trip that would have combined so many of my passions. A job that would fit well with how I’m gifted. A relationship that ended too soon. And most recently, stepping back from serving with a ministry that I love.
My response has simply been, “Why?!”
Why let me figure out what makes my heart beat fast, only for it to be shut down without warning?
Now I never was super big into sports (holla for two and a half years of JV tennis) but as I was talking with a friend the other day and wrestling through words, this picture just clicked. So hang with me.
Most team sports have a literal bench. The main purpose of the bench is for players to gather around it when they’re not on the court/field/rink. There are three main people we find on the bench.
Person #1: The Benchwarmer
This was me in high school. I needed the Athletics credit, but had no desire to actually play the game. I went to practice, my name was on the roster, but I was never chosen to participate when it came to competitions. I actually sat on the bench many days. You’re welcome, Weatherford High School kangaroos.
Being benched gives the Benchwarmer the space to remain comfortable.
Person #2: The Hothead
When a coach sends someone to the bench, sometimes this is a disciplinary measure. The player is breaking the rules of the game and needs to take a few to cool down and remember that when they are 85 and old and grey, it will not matter that the opponent’s toe crossed the line and that the ref failed to see the “severity” of the offense.
Being benched gives the Hothead the space to be disciplined.
Person #3: The Devoted
Even the best athlete spends time on the bench. No matter how many 3-pointers they can shoot in a row, they won’t play the entire game. At some point, the coach lovingly sends them to the bench to recover because the coach knows there is more of the game left to play.
Being benched gives the Devoted the space to rest.
When it comes to sports, I’m definitely a benchwarmer, but for the most part, I can say with confidence that’s not my bent when it comes to life. I’m a goer and a doer.
There have absolutely been times in my life when I’ve been sent to the bench because I needed to be disciplined. God knew that the most loving thing for me was to take me out and make me actually face my sin problems. While I still sin (aka- fall short of perfection) every day, I don’t think God has sent me to the bench right now for discipline.
Sometimes God sends us to the bench to let us rest.
And I don’t like it.
Deep in my soul I know I’m tired, I’ll even say it with my words, but I don’t want to stop playing.
Rest is 100% Biblical. God created the world in six days and then RESTED the seventh. (Genesis 2:3). This idea of time set aside for rest is also known as a Sabbath. A couple days ago I read in Numbers 15 that God commanded the people of Israel to straight up stone a man who broke the Sabbath…he was breaking it by picking up sticks!! STICKS!!! The man was gathering sticks during a time when he should have been resting.
I don’t frequently pick up sticks. I do frequently forget to rest.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29
I will certainly stop to veg on the couch and I’m all about the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night. Within the first hour of my morning I strive to meet with Jesus and let His Word fill my heart. These are good examples of taking a “time out” to catch my breath and strategize, if you will. But true rest for my soul requires more. The verse that has stuck out to me the most through this season so far has been Colossians 1:17: “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Do I trust God to be God? By stepping back and allowing space to recover, I am saying that He is bigger than I am. He doesn’t need me to keep playing in order to win the game. Sometimes the most loving thing is for me to sit on the bench and watch. To stop and let my soul rest…remembering that in Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36).
He holds everything together. Everything.
My time on the bench doesn’t have to mean that I’m unengaged. It means that I stop to remember who God is in my life. It’s already been several weeks that I’ve taken up residence on the bench. Most days I still struggle to accept this gift of rest. But Lord, thank You for reminding me that you hold all things together…including this bench you have me on.
What’s your response to being put on the bench?
When was the last time you rested? What does rest look like to you?
Does the way you rest reflect your belief in God’s ability to hold all things together?
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