sheep in a meadow

Rest. Wait. Follow. Me?

It’s great to do things for God. But it MUST be according to His will, His Spirit, His leading, and His timing. I have learned that if I run ahead and do things on my own, I just make a big mess. A really big mess.

Not only do I not bless anyone, I can even cause harm when I try to do things in my strength, my effort, and my wisdom.

It’s hard for me to be still and wait. I don’t want to waste time. Life is short! Running ahead with my own plans is easy. My normal tendency is to want to just take off and go about 100 miles per hour feeling like I am DOING something important for God. Whether He has called me to that thing or not. Whether it is by His Spirit and assignment or not.

But God has been calling me to a MUCH slower pace. And a LOT of waiting, at times.

Because… He is good.

There’s nothing wrong with making plans in advance, necessarily. We need to make some plans. We do need to think about the future, at times, and pray about possible options. But sometimes I end up expending a lot of energy over potential decisions that may happen way down the road that we may not even need to ever make.

It’s critical that I remember that the Lord is in control, not me. I must be ready to set aside my plans every second for God’s plans.

Turns out, I don’t have to have everything figured out in advance.

A Pillar of Cloud and Fire

God has also been showing me recently that following Him is a lot like the picture of Israel following the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. Exodus 40:34-38

The Israelites had no idea when God would move them or how long they might stay. God didn’t tell them His plan in advance. Sometimes, they stayed in a place only one night and the cloud moved the next day so they broke camp and followed. Other times, the cloud stayed in one place for a month or longer.

They were a lot like sheep, following their Good Shepherd.

Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

It makes me think of how God leads me. I don’t know His plan any more than these adorable little lambs know their shepherd’s plan. I don’t know what He will do even 5 minutes from now. And yet, He is with me. He does lead me.

Through His Word. Through prayer. Through godly counsel. Through circumstances. Through His “still, small voice.” Through people in positions of leadership in my life.

He is great at leading me through my wonderful husband who thinks so very differently from me. And He leads in other ways, too.

I have learned that human plans can change very quickly. I don’t want to put much weight on them.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.  So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

In one heartbeat, our entire reality can suddenly change.

Only God really knows what will happen. And only God can truly know what will be best in any given situation.

All I really need to do is seek God’s beautiful face. Meaning, all I need to do is worship, thank, praise, and trust Him. As I keep my spiritual eyes focused on Him, He will direct my steps and give us the prompting, the open doors, the provision, the opportunities, the desires, the calling, the vision, the assignments, the wisdom, and the direction that I need.

This takes a whole lot of strain off of me. I don’t need to know the plan. And you know what else? Huge light bulb moment…

My husband doesn’t even need to know God’s plan in advance, either!

I just need to love and trust that God has the plan and He will reveal it to both of us one step at a time – at just the right time. I have found that He absolutely will as I devote myself fully to following and trusting Him.

When I say,

Lord,

Do ALL that You want with me and in me and with my family. Lead my career and ministry in Your narrow path that leads to Life. I want to experience as much of You as possible. I want to yield to Your Lordship completely. I want to get to see everything You want to provide and know and experience all of Your Spirit that I can possibly receive.

I leave everything open. I give you total access to every door in my life. Every possibility in the future. Every talent and gift I have. Everyone in my family. Every trial. Every blessing. It’s all completely Yours.

Let Your will be done 100% in my life. I don’t want to miss out on one good thing You have for me. I want to experience every bit of Your unfathomable love. I want You do to whatever will bring You the greatest glory in my life. Amen…

It is amazing what He will do.

ISAIAH 30:1-3

“Ah, stubborn children,” declares the Lord,
“who carry out a plan, but not mine,
and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit,
    that they may add sin to sin;
who set out to go down to Egypt,
    without asking for my direction,
to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh
    and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!
Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame,
    and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation.

ISAIAH 30:15

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

ISAIAH 30:21 (God’s plan for His people with the New Covenant in Christ)

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

I want to be more like that little lamb who just seeks to be close to her shepherd and is ready to follow wherever he may go in a moment’s notice. It’s not about me, my plans, my opinions, my wisdom, or my thoughts about what would be best. It is all about Him!

It is a lot more simple than I ever realized.

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Have you learned something about resting in Christ, waiting on God, and following Him that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear the godly wisdom you have gleaned in your walk with the Lord.

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21 thoughts to “Rest. Wait. Follow. Me?”

  1. Hi April,
    Thanks for this post. I also love the description on how the Israelites followed the Lord’s direction in Numbers 9:15-23.

    My personal experience is that I’m letting go of my eagerness to have a second child. I’m 43 so I have been feeling like I should try to get pregnant now but my husband is not at all ready for that. The thought alone gets him stressed out. Instead of pressuring him and being anxious about it, I’m letting it go and focusing on loving and enjoying my son and every aspect of my life. Letting God of my plan is freeing me to enjoy the moment and the many blessings God has already given me.

    Maybe God will lead my husband and I to have another child or maybe he won’t. In either case, my focus is on following God’s direction as he leads me through my husband (instead of through a cloud). Lol.

    Much love

    1. Nikki,

      There is a lot of peace in being able to lay our deepest desires down before the Lord on the altar and simply rest in His love, leading, and provision. Praying for God’s greatest glory in your life, my precious sister!

      I love your heart and faith. It is beautiful to see what God is doing in your life. <3

  2. April- your Peaceful Wife book is just what THE doctor ordered to help cure my contentment cancer 😉! That was this spring and now I am enjoying your posts. I love how you always point people to the Holy Spirit.

    God has designed it where we truly can’t even just take a verse and run with it. He says PURSUE righteousness, godliness, faithfulness, love, endurance and gentleness and TAKE HOlLD of the eternal lifetime to which we’ve been called. This seems like a lot of ACTION but ironically we accomplish all of this when we follow His commands to BE STILL and know that He is God and WAIT upon The Lord!

    I have two Bible based projects that I have been working on for over a year that anyone could’ve completed in their flesh in at least half the time but God had much to teach me and we know that he cares way more about our character than what we accomplish so now I am with you waiting to see when he says it’s time to make another move.

    Oh and thank you for sharing your bold and challenging prayers!

    1. Karen,

      I’m so thankful God used the book to be such a blessing! That is an answer to my prayers! <3

      Yes, there is action, but it must always spring from the power of the Spirit and a sense of being still, waiting, and following, not rushing way ahead in our own wisdom and power.

      Thank you so much for sharing! And thank you for praying with me! I can't wait to see all the spiritual treasures the Lord has to share with you. I pray for His greatest glory in your life!

      Much love!

  3. Thank you April! I needed this…God’s running theme since this summer is rest in my life so clearly I need to read this…thank you so much! It was so well worded and hit home.
    Blessings my friend!

    1. Robyn,

      I’m so thankful God used this post to bless you. I know when He calls us to slow down and rest, it is for our benefit and good. It is then that we have the sweetest communion and fellowship with Him. Praying you will be able to receive His gracious, loving words to you and truly be still and listen and allow His love, truth, and healing power to wash over you and restore and refresh your soul.

      Much love!

  4. In mid June, my husband’s mental illness was severe enough that he chose to separate from me. I was terrified and a wreck, but deep deep in my spirit, when I was listening past my emotions, I had faith that he would be back but I wanted to get him back right then!

    I spent a lot of time in prayer during that time, and forced myself, sometimes quite literally, to let him know I was there and would welcome him home but not pressure him. I’m not saying I was always successful, but that was what I tried to do.

    It took a month, a very long and painful month, but he did come back. Not only that, but God used that time for good, most importantly by getting my husband back on the path of faith that he had completely abandoned! The thing is, a couple times during that month, he told me to just give away his clothes and other things he’d left behind because he wouldn’t be back for them. Even when he said that, even when my feelings wanted to believe him and give up, I kept having this feeling of wait. Wait, don’t do anything until at least the first of August. So, I didn’t. I waited, and now that he’s back he’s very glad his things were still here along with me.

    The fear is still there, and I still struggle with how to allow him to lead while still supporting and helping him where it’s needed, but God did indeed teach me patience, and not to give up even when a situation seems hopeless! Had I begged and pleaded and pushed like I really wanted to do during that month, things might be very very different now. God is bigger than our hopelessness!

    1. Christy,

      I really hate that you had to go through that trial. But…WOW! How I praise God that you sought God’s wisdom and counsel and that you didn’t push and pressure. I know that is what we are all tempted to do in situations like that, but we end up sabotaging the relationship if we do that. It requires great spiritual maturity and the power of the Spirit to be still and wait and trust God.

      Praising God with you for what He has done and all He will do!!!!

      Thank you for sharing your testimony! What a blessing! And—just a month? That was pretty quick, in my view!

      Much love! May God continue the good work He has begun in You for His glory! I pray for God’s healing for you both.

  5. Thank you, April. This was such a timely word. I’ve had what’s called “relationship anxiety” from the moment my husband started showing me affection 2.5 years ago. I came from a background of many kinds of abuse and tho I’m a believer the effects of the abuse rooted a lot of sin in my heart that have affected so much of my life. Even tho my husband and I are very different, we have no doubt God called us together. If I could write down all the prayers he answered for us it would probably take up ten pages! I say all that to say that I struggle with fear and learning to trust my husband. At times he can be blunt and has sort of a dark humor (he’s a first responder so it’s been a learning curve for me). I on the other hand have always been extremely sensitive and get my feelings hurt over, well everything. This morning as I woke up the Lord gave me joy (which I haven’t had i a while). He spoke to me and said “Let go. Let go of what you think this is all supposed to look like. Rest in me for your every moment and for everything you struggle with. I will lead and build your marriage.” A few minutes later I opened up your blog and started reading Isaiah and giving up my plans for his. And peace came over me. That I could trust God and in turn trust God in my husband, who is an amazing godly man. Before meeting my husband I always ran away from difficult situations w church, friends, family. So even tho it’s challenging, I can see how when God calls us to something or someone it’s so we learn to stop depending on ourselves and depend on him. Thanks for always pointing us to God and not ourselves.

    1. Sara,

      Oh, my precious sister! How my heart breaks over the abuse you have experienced. 🙁 How I wish NO ONE ever had to face something like that.

      What a blessing to hear your story of healing. And what joy fills my heart as I read about your joy, rest, and peace.

      PRAISE GOD! He is SO good!

      And, though you don’t know it, you are actually giving me a lot of encouragement as I seek to help a dear younger sister in Christ who has been through abuse, too. Thank you! <3

      I can't wait to see all that the Lord has in store for you, your husband, and your marriage, for His glory!

      1. Thank you, April! Your blog has been such a source of encouragement. The abuse caused alot of fear and lies to creep in and tho God kept telling me this was my husband, i just couldn’t believe Him for the longest time. But no matter how many times i broke things off, God would ALWAYS bring us back together through answered prayer. I’m thankful my husband is such a strong and godly man because it was truly was God giving him love and patience for me as I’ve been learning these past few years. Which is how i found your blog! I didn’t realize all the work God needed to do in me (and is still doing!). Breaking fears, chains of codependency and enmeshment, and rebuilding my identity from the ground up. Its a long journey, but I’m glad to be on it. Thanks for sharing your wisdom every week with us!

        1. Sara,

          Isn’t it wonderful that God’s healing and abundant spiritual life are available to each of us? Even if we have been through terrible things, His love is stronger than our past and our wounds. Praise God! We all need His help much more than we know. ❤️

  6. Hi April,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful post.
    I have not been a Christian long and am still learning to discern Gods leading and to hear that still, small voice. Your post has helped to confirm a decision I have been rather battling over recently…
    In my work I support Autistic children at school. I have no doubt that God placed me here as following a long illness, does were opened that so amazingly suited my rather feeble energy levels and requirements. Since working with these amazing young people, my heart has just soared with love and compassion for them. Because however there is very little training available, I looked into and booked myself onto a counselling degree that I would have to leave my job for. (I seem also to be spending more and more time in a listening/ supportive role with friends and family)
    Even though, I would absolutely LOVE to study counselling, feel so excited about it and have had the encouragement of my pastor, I feel God is saying wait…..
    It is taking so much strength not to take up my place as it appears to make such sense and yet…. I do not have the feeling that the Holy Spirit is in my decision. So I have put my place on hold and will return to work in obedience to what I think God is leading me to do.
    Your words are such a reassurance and reminder that we can truly trust God to direct our path. Thank you God 🧡

    1. Clare Carter,

      It warms my heart to hear about your love for these precious children. What a blessing that they have you in their lives!

      I’m so glad you are listening to the Lord and that you are willing to wait. Waiting is hard!!! But God’s timing is perfect. You will never regret listening to His prompting and following in His timing.

      Praying for God’s continued clear direction for you and His greatest glory in your life—as well as for continued healing for you.

      Much love!

  7. Thank you! I really need to work on this area as well! “I want to be more like that little lamb who just seeks to be close to her shepherd and is ready to follow wherever he may go in a moment’s notice.” YES! I love that! 💜

    1. Bridget A. Thomas,

      It’s so great to hear from you, my dear sister! I think in our crazy fast-paced world, it is a huge temptation for us to rush and move way too quickly on things. Or, I know it is for me. As much as I hate slowing down, I really need to. It is good for me to be still, to listen, to wait, and to allow God to restore my soul.

      This is something I am sure we will all continue to learn more about and I pray for God’s power to help us all grow in our faith and in our waiting capacity. As well as our listening and following capacity!

      Much love!

      1. Yes, you are so right! The world we live in does play a big part in this. And I know in my own life, it seemed to get significantly worse with smartphones and tablets. But we can still make improvements in slowing down with the Lord’s help. Thank you for this great post and reminder. I am definitely going to make some changes! 💜

  8. Hi April!
    I am a 21 year old new wife (of only 2 months now) and this past weekend my husband and I went to Knoxville together and went in the Life Way store that was going out of business. I picked up your book The Peaceful Wife and haven’t been able to put it down. I have made highlights, took notes, found my self crying at times and sobbing at others. It’s very clear to me that I have no idea what I’m doing and have no idea how to be this amazing man’s wife and also that I have had my relationship with God all wrong all this time. Today I feel overwhelmed with emotion because I find myself failing at least once every hour with selfish thoughts and being too quick to anger. Today I just feel defeated like my efforts to do better and change my heart and mindset are for nothing. I ask for prayers from anyone that may read this. I knew it would take longer than a few days and that it’s a life long walk with God over time, but I didn’t know the transition would be this hard. Thank you for your eye opening book and for taking the time to read this.

    With love, Mrs. Anderson

    1. Jesse,

      Congratulations on your marriage! How wonderful that you are getting to find out some of this information so early in your walk with the Lord and in your marriage. I know it is extremely overwhleming at first, many times. I know I was completely overwhelmed for months, myself, when God opened my eyes in December of 2008.

      This journey takes time. We all want to be perfect in a day or a week or a year. We aren’t going to be completely perfect until heaven. But what this journey teaches us is that we don’t have the power to walk in holiness, goodness, love, respect, and obedience on our own. We desperately need the Holy Spirit’s help.

      It is not a matter of trying harder in our own power. It is much more about softening to God and yielding more and more control to Him, letting Him do the heavy lifting and deep healing in our hearts.

      Your desire to be a godly wife and to honor Christ and bless your husband are not in vain! God is able to complete the work He has begun in you. He promises He will, in fact!

      When you feel defeated and discouraged, here are my suggestions:

      – Be still and rest in God’s love for you and in His provision.
      – Pray and seek Him more than anything.
      – Remind yourself that you are in training. This is kind of like spiritual bootcamp. Have grace for yourself.
      – Invite God to show you all that you can bear and invite Him to have access to every corner of your heart and mind. Allow Him to transform you.
      – Spend time in prayer and in Scripture. Invite God to speak. Don’t rush. Wait on God. Be still.
      – When you feel discouraged, remember that the enemy wants to defeat you. He wants to crush you and get you to lose hope. That spirit is not from God. God does not give you a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power, love, and a sound-mind.
      – Sing praises to Jesus out loud. Read the promises of God’s Word out loud.
      – Declare the authority and victory of Jesus over you life.
      – Take a break sometimes and just enjoy your husband. Enjoy your life.
      – Focus on all of your blessings.
      – Admit when you mess up. Repent and move on, inviting God to teach you more.

      Lord,
      How I thank You for what You are doing already in Jesse’s life. I thank You and praise You that she wants to become the woman and wife You call her to be. Help her to rest in Your love. Help her to hear Your voice and be still. Help her to slow down and wait on You. Help her to have the faith she needs to surrender all to Your control. Thank You that she can see with new eyes. Thank You that You delight in her and love to help her. Thank You that You provide all she needs to live in obedience and holiness through Jesus. Thank You that You are gentle, kind, good, and patient with her. She is a precious lamb to You. You can easily pick her up and carry her close to Your heart. Help her to breathe. Help her to rest. Help her to be still on the spiritual operating table and trust You, her Great Physician, as You do painful but healing heart surgery on her.

      Help her to trust Your timing and Your wisdom. You have done this many times before and You hold her lovingly and firmly in Your hands. She doesn’t have to be afraid. She doesn’t have to be overwhelmed. She can just rest in Your peace, keeping her eyes and heart on You.
      Amen!

      <3

      1. Jesse,

        PS – we are with you on this journey. What a blessing that we don’t have to walk this road alone, that we can pray for and encourage each other.

        I kind of think of the peaceful wife journey as a cross-country event. It is like walking 5000 miles. It’s not a sprint. You walk a bit, then you have to sit and rest.

        Or it is like “eating an elephant.” There is no way to digest everything at once. You just have to take a bite and chew on it and receive God’s truth and allow it to work in you. Then you take another bite. Growing in spiritual maturity is a process that happens over time. Much like a baby growing from being an infant to an adult. As you get more and more experience and learn more, you grow stronger and stronger.

        We will not be perfect until we reach heaven’s gates, but God absolutely will help us grow as we trust Him and seek Him with all our hearts.

        If you start to feel too overwhelmed, you may be trying to go too fast or trying in your power, not the Spirit’s. There is a learning curve. Invite God to show you what He wants you to learn. Take a break if you need to. Talk with one of us. You are doing GREAT! And you are loved more than you can begin to imagine by Jesus.

        We love you, too!!! <3

        Much love!

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