Today’s Truth

And He said unto them, ‘Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while’ (Mark 6:31 KJV).

Friend to Friend

I have learned many lessons from my husband about how to do ministry. Dan is a people person and views strangers as friends he simply hasn’t met yet. But his heart beats for the lost man who seems to be running from God with every ounce of energy he has. Dan’s passion gave birth to the Fireside Ministry.

Every Sunday night men from all walks of life gather in our driveway around a fire pit to share what God is doing in their lives as well as the struggles they are experiencing. They ask for help. They pray for each other. Fireside time is a holy time where God shows up and works in amazing ways.

One Sunday night I slipped into the garage to grab something out of the refrigerator we keep there. When I heard Dan talking about the spaces we have to create in our lives, I stopped and listened.

For months, I had been brutally examining my life. I was very busy doing good things, but were those things ordained by God or tasks simply assigned by my own need to be seen and heard? I was tired and discouraged – ready to give up.

I sat down on the garage steps and listened as a master teacher laid out a life-changing truth for me.

Dan said, “I give Scott a hard time about his fire-building technique. But there is a truth here for all of us about the spaces we need to have in our lives. Scott cannot stand to see space in a fire. The minute one of the logs burns through, Scott jumps up and replaces it with two logs … and the fire always struggles to keep burning. Here’s why. A fire has to have space to burn its brightest. There has to be room for air to get through and fan the flames. If there are no spaces, the fire will soon die out because it can’t breathe.”

“Mary, you need space in your life … for Me,” the Father whispered to my heart.

I immediately knew what I had to do. I had to lay down every commitment, every ministry, and every log in my life at the feet of Jesus. I was smothering the power of God because there were too many logs on my fire and no space for Him to fan the flames of His plans for me.

I’ve repeatedly tried to defy my God-given need for rest, thinking that I’m somehow above both the occurrence and consequences of exhaustion. Some urgent task will always call my name, as will that person whose life will absolutely disintegrate before my eyes if I don’t do something right now. My ego loves those deadly toxic strokes that are from the pit and smell like smoke.

Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very nervous. I want to know what the plan is and how that plan is going to be implemented. I need details! Instead, God calls me to rest.

I don’t want to rest, because when I rest, I feel guilty.

In Psalm 23:2 the psalmist writes, “He lets me rest.” Don’t let that gentle statement fool you. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says it this way, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” I can personally testify to the fact that the word “makes” holds a world of possibilities in the hands of our creative God.

Throughout the years God has gently grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent loving Father and well aware of just how much rest we need and when we need it.

We will rest – one way or another. The logs will come off and space will be created for our good and His glory. God’s love will see to it.

Let’s Pray

Father, forgive me for the arrogance that keeps me on the run, trying to prove my worth. Help me learn how to say “no” to those things that keep me from sitting at Your feet. Give me a hunger and thirst for You that can only be satisfied by time alone with You. I love You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

What does it mean to “be still before God”?  What “time thieves” do you need to eliminate from your schedule?

More from the Girlfriends

God has a plan for dealing with the stress in life by learning how to build in margins that allow us to rest. Need help? Check out Mary’s two new devotion books, Life is So Daily volume 1 and 2.

Do you need a little encouragement or guidance to get unstuck in ministry? Learn more about Mary’s new coaching options.

Need prayer? Email our Prayer Team Director, Ginger Meador. We would love to pray for you!

© 2022 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.

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8 Responses to “Making Space to Breathe”

  1. Sherri says:

    Thank you so much Mary for your devotional this morning!
    It always seems to be something important where I am needed. Sister recently died, mother in a nursing home, mother’s health is failing, siblings will not help, I just want to STOP and talk to Jesus. But I think this has to be done by me and that is the reason Jesus has placed it at my feet. Then the anxiety sets in.
    If I can just learn to stop and rest and sit at the feet of Jesus, I know things will be so much better.
    Blessings to everyone this morning!

  2. Carol says:

    Blessings to you, Mary and all GIG readers!
    I’ve battling with illness, since last month, and this devotion has helped my soul.
    It seems the evil one, has decide I’m a new target. This trial is a new unknown challenge for me, but even though I been in a struggle; I also know Jesus is there. The challenge today is getting with refer, to the right Dr. to address my issue. Please pray for a physical resolution. Jesus is my only answer, and believe me, I’m holding on to His garments this morning; praising His Holy name.

  3. Sheila says:

    I needed this today Mary. I plate is running over I should say been running over. I am praying that God will work this out for me. I’m have no space at all for anything else. I can’t find the courage to say “NO”. I pray it won’t be an illness that gets my attention. I know God hears me and is working on my behalf.
    Blessings to all

  4. J.B says:

    This ministered to my heart. Thank you much needed. <3.

  5. Sherri, thank you for your encouraging words. I know how you feel. Everything seems necessary and good. God wants to take that pressure off of us if we will stop and just rest. Praying for you now to find that rest!


  6. Carol, I am so sorry you are struggling with health issues. I am going through the same thing! God has opened the doors to some amazing physicians. Stand firm! He will find the right spot for you.


  7. Sheila, I know how hard it is to let go. But trust me, it is better on the other side. I’m praying for you to have clear direction on the next steps you need to take.


  8. Sue says:

    Just catching up on my reading, so sorry to hear Carol, about your sickness and problems. You may not see by this since it’s a day behind but I am praying for you.

"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8