A Prayer For July: Rest
When I was in grade school, July was my favorite month of the year. The grind of the school day had been shaken off, and the prospect of another day in the classroom was still a distant thought. The days were hot, but I spent every one of them with my closest friends at the local pool from opening until close, pooling our money for mediocre pizza and two-liter bottles of Shasta orange soda. I have upgraded my pizza palate and beverage selection and traded the pool for church-league softball, but July still reminds me of the carefree, openness I had as a kid.
“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children,” says Jesus in Matthew 11:25. Eugene Peterson wrote it this way in The Message: “You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people.” As someone about halfway through a doctorate degree and amidst a pub trivia win streak, I think I can speak with authority when I say I know what a know-it-all is. And yet, this hot July, I hope to be reminded of my youth and find myself as one of the ordinary people.
Because Jesus is waiting for my ears to listen. For me, in some ways, Jesus is July. He wants to restore to me the feeling that the stress of yesterday is gone, and the stress of tomorrow will wait. He is saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
And so, I am eagerly looking forward to the ways He will speak to me this month. My family and I will attend our church in Calvert County, Maryland, and I have a work trip that will take me to a friend’s church Shawnee, Kansas. I have meetings and casual hangs with Christian friends. I will have chats about life with my neighbors as we cut our grass and water our plants. And in all of these places, I hope to be the ordinary person, not the know-it-all, ready to listen to the Holy Spirit.
I think I may have become passionate about church planting when I began to understand that a crucial part of Jesus is the way He is like July. I needed rest. I need rest. Jesus provides it.
My neighbor works every single day, commuting an hour into Washington, DC. He needs rest.
My friend, Amanda, drives her kids all over for sports, school, events, and visits to family. She needs rest.
Litzi, the 10-year-old child I sponsor in Bolivia, just wrote me a letter saying that she and her brother help her parents with the small restaurant they are opening on the outskirts of Cochabamba. They need rest.
Where are they going to find it?
Where are they going to find Him?
I did. I found Jesus at a brand-new church in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
There are not enough churches on the planet right now to point toward the rest Jesus offers. Not even close. But that could change, and it could change quickly.
What if thousands of new churches, bolstered by the knowledge and experiences of all the amazing existing churches, were started each year because the access to that knowledge and those relationships was simplified? How many local movements of new churches could flourish? How many know-it-alls would slow down and listen like ordinary people? How many people would find rest?
For me, in some way, Jesus is July. The stress of yesterday is gone, and the stress of tomorrow will wait. Let’s work together, and thousands, millions even, of people will find the rest Jesus offers.
VP OF MISSION SUPPORT
Matt lives in North Beach, MD and is married to Becky Murphy with two kids, Ariella & Rex, and one dog: Ravenclaw. Matt has been a part of four church plants in the DC/Baltimore metro area. Matt was previously the Executive Pastor for Revolution Church in Annapolis, MD, and before that, was the Project Manager for the Siemens Center for Applied Medical Imaging MRI R&D group at Johns Hopkins University.