A Forced Rest

We’ve all done it. We get so busy that we lose focus on what’s most important in life—focusing instead on what’s most important at that moment. Those times are when God sometimes has to put us in a forced timeout.

Like me, my pal Bubba the chocolate lab is getting older; and the few extra pounds he carries puts added stress on his joints. And like him, I too have learned to account for it, until we don’t. A couple of weeks ago Bubba developed a pronounced hitch in his giddyup (some of y’all call it a limp). After a few days, he wasn’t getting better, so I realized it was time to engage Dr. Lisa, his vet. The result was a diagnosis of a torn cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). In people terms, he’s torn his ACL.

His care approach is some anti-inflammatory drugs and rest. With my active farm dog, rest is the most difficult part. Having to keep him locked down in our garage makes him feel like he’s being punished. He can’t hop onto the UTV and sit beside me during chores. Follow me while I’m on the tractor. And worst of all, he can’t chase the barn cats. Instead, he lies on his cushioned mat, pillow, and rugs just outside the door to the garage. And he softly whimpers. Not because he’s in pain so much, but because he feels cut off from his active life as the world goes on without him.

I take him out for bathroom breaks and to get a little sun each day, yet he’s leashed and limited in how much he can roam. He’s accustomed to going anywhere he wants, anytime he wants, so he’ll look up at me with his big sad eyes. Sometimes I wonder if he’s asking, “Can I please go check on the calves, Papa?” I understand he needs to rest and take a break from low-crawling under fences, jumping onto hay bales, or playing tag with the donkeys. Bubba thinks, but doesn’t understand why I’m restraining him. He doesn’t understand why I’m forcing him to rest.

Forcing my pal to stay off his injured leg, rest, and hopefully heal is the right thing to do. It doesn’t make it easy when I look at the small garage door opening to ensure fresh air and I see his nose peeking out from underneath it. His pleading eyes peering at me in sadness as I go about my day. Although I’m praying for his healing, I’m also praying God helps me not feel so guilty about keeping him away from all the things he loves. I’ve been thinking about times when God has had to force me to rest in the past.

When was the last time God forced you to rest in Him? Click To Tweet

As I thought about those times, I realized a few things. In those times, I was so wrapped up in the busyness of my life (work, church, family, friends, etc.) that I had lost my focus on Him. Oh, I prayed and read my Bible (most days), but I seldom took time from my schedule to meditate on God and what He needed me to learn. “God time” became another task in my day rather than a needed break, or escape, from this world. I failed to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28).

Something else I realized was that God doesn’t always force me to rest in Him to teach me anything. Sometimes He does so I will allow Him to sit with me and speak His love, peace, and comfort into my life. God forces me to rest in Him so he can recharge my spirit and refresh my soul. What I’ve found in these moments is that God is preparing me for His next thing. When I’m released from those rest periods, I find the inspiration, encouragement, and clarity to do the next thing He has planned for my life.

Have you ever really given thought to the second and third verses of the 23rd Psalm? We can probably all recite the entire Psalm, but have you noticed the action verbs in this familiar scripture?

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.”

(Psalm 23:2-3, NKJV) (emphasis mine)

Clearly, David was expressing his recognition that the Lord was His shepherd. His life had yielded control to his Shepherd in much the same way he once led sheep in his father’s flock. God doesn’t tell us to lie down in green pastures or to rest beside the still waters. He makes us and leads us. He restores our soul.

In Bubba’s world, perhaps, he views me as his shepherd, his caretaker, his master. Much in the same way, I view and depend upon God as the master of my life. I pray my furry friend understands that what I’m forcing him to do is out of love, wanting only the best for him.

In what ways has God forced you to rest in Him in the past? Click To Tweet

Whether illness or injury, sickness or surgery, a break in work or a breakdown of equipment, God used situations in my life to focus me upon Him. God meant none of these as punishment, but loving acts of my chief shepherd, who reached down to take my focus from my now and place it on my forever. In all these situations, the result has been my seeking God. And in each case, He has welcomed me into His presence and given me what He knew I needed.

In God, I find the 3Ps of Faith (Pause, Peace, and Preparation) my life needs to take the next step in His journey. As I close this post, I’m going to pour myself another cup of coffee, bring my pal Bubba inside and lay him on the sofa beside me. Place his head onto my lap and spend a few minutes basking in our love for one another. I pray this week you ask God to always force you to rest in Him when He sees the need you haven’t yet realized.

God’s blessings,

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56 thoughts on “A Forced Rest

  1. Oh, so sorry to hear about Bubba, J.D., but I join you in praying for his healing. I know it is hard for you to see him wanting to run, but what you are doing is best for him. We may not always understand why God tells us to do something, but we know it is always for our good. Hebrews tells us we have to labor to rest. We do get so caught up in daily life we can forget to move into that restful time in fellowship with the Lord. Enjoy your rest with God and Bubba!

    1. Thank you Ms. Cherrilynn. Sometimes I think the “mental/emotional hurts” are far harder to find rest and heal from than the physical ones. Continuing in prayer ma’am.

  2. It’s a tender heart moment when you bring Bubba to the couch and minister to him. Surely, we all yearn for such comfort and peace from our Father, too.

    Thanks again for sharing life on the Cross Dubya with such clarity and compassion. I’m anxious to stop by and sit a spell.

  3. J.D., I hope Bubba heals quickly. And again, a beautiful lesson on how God knows best when we need to rest. At times, He sets us aside for purposes beyond our understanding but always for our good. Blessings to both you and Bubba as you enjoy your coffee and your buddy!

    1. So very true Ms. Joanne. I can’t always know His plan for me, but I’ve learned through experience that I can trust Him to bring good if I surrender and obey. God’s blessings ma’am .

  4. Praying for Bubba’s complete and speedy recovery. And I can very much relate to needing these times of refreshing in the Lord. It has been unusually busy in my life lately and I miss those leisurely, quiet times. I am determined to set aside time. When I had emergency surgery 6 years ago and was out of commission for 12 weeks – not being able to do anything much, even walk upstairs was frustrating to one who always is doing for others. It was even more difficult to let my children and husband take care of me – but God taught me many important things in that time. Thank you for sharing my friend.

    1. Yes ma’am. I learned that lesson well when we were caring for my aging father. Even though he had grown quite dependent upon me (for nearly everything it seemed), the transition in roles was a difficult one for both of us. Like my furry pal’s need, I’m praying this too turn out to be very much worth the effort. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Thank you very much Ms. Candyce. I’m praying that those that depend upon me see Christ in me. I was thinking this morning as I was stroking Bubba’s ears while praying over him, even though animals don’t have a spirit (I believe), I’m certain they have a soul, and that soul like all of creation cries out to God. If they know/feel/sense His presence, then I suspect they too know it when they see His love in us. Have a blessed week sweet lady.

  5. Praying for Bubba’s healing, J. D. Somewhere, deep down, I believe our pets know that anything we do for them is done in love, even when it isn’t the routine they’ve become used to. God does the same for us.
    Blessings!

  6. JD,
    When I was 40, and pastoring FBC Lindale, the Lord “made me to lie down” through a blown disc and surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Tyler. I probably would have never stopped to take a break/rest if He hadn’t.
    Thank you for these insightful words from Psalm 23. God bless you brother!!!
    “Rev. REV”

    1. It’s now Christus Mother Frances (and HUGE). I just drove by FBC-Lindale about two hours ago (had to go to Tyler) sir. 🙂 Will never look at it the same. Was Miranda Lambert in the choir? Thank you Rev. RWV; am so very glad you enjoyed sir. God’s blessings. Know we’re still praying for that new grandbaby of yours.

  7. Oh, I’m so sorry that Bubba’s going through this, and you as well. But the lesson here is like fireworks lighting up the night sky.
    THIS: “God doesn’t always force me to rest in Him to teach me anything. Sometimes He does so I will allow Him to sit with me and speak His love, peace, and comfort into my life. God forces me to rest in Him so he can recharge my spirit and refresh my soul.” This speaks volumes to me right now.
    Thank you for letting the Holy Spirit use you to write what others need to read.
    Proverbs 25:11 (NKJV)
    A word fitly spoken [is like] apples of gold In settings of silver.

  8. Yup, my wife is under a ‘forced rest time’, so as her caregiver I see how it works, for her to set back, perhaps poke her nose out and give me sad eyes too. My recent fight with migraines placed me into shutdown mode as well. Uncomfortable time but it served to get me back writing for the Lord and amen for that.
    Sort of like a diet, ya change some foods around to find a wholesome match, to get rid of some uwanted things and be stronger in the Lord and amen. Ol’ papa

  9. I need this message today. Life has been very busy lately. All good things, but, I need this reminder to remain focused on God and not myself. Thank you J.D. I’m praying Bubba heals quickly and can get back to his daily fun. 🙂

    1. How very true Ms. Carla. Mine, for health reasons, were 2017 and 2019. In each case, I came through the other side with a stronger desire to write for Him. The being quiet part is so important. I too have learned that God won’t shout over the “clanging cymbals.”

  10. Well, you hit home with this one JD!
    The last time God forced me to change things up was only last week. It included a four day, three night stay in the only hospital within an hour’s drive.
    It was literally “gut check” time for me and all the things I thought I needed to do (or that someone else thought I needed to do) was put in stasis.
    Like Bubba, I’ve been tethered and didn’t know why.
    But God slowed me down and no It’s a slow journey back.
    Thanks for the post!

    1. Thank you Mr. Ben. Yessir, I’d say you are having a worse week than me and old Bubba dog here. While God has you slowed down, be sure to listen for His next instructions for you;; I’m certain they’re coming as He’s got big plans for you my friend.

  11. Oh my, JD. You’ve made me cry, and brought into full focus that longing, that craving, that soul cry to – just be – in Jesus’ presence. Thank you.

    Beautifully shown, love the picture of you and Bubba and the paralells to our Shepherd. Praying for Bubba’s recovery.

    Thank you for your transparency and faithfulness to Jesus and His call for you, JD.

  12. I’ve personally experienced “forced rest” due to injury and illness. It’s tough! I feel Bubba’s pain. For people, we can use that time to reflect, pray, and delve deeply into God’s Word. But our impatience to be “back in the saddle” chafes. Bubba is worrying about his separation from you. A good reminder for us to seek a closer relationship with our Master. Wonderful message, my friend. Praying for you and Bubba.

  13. I love the way you love your entire Cross-Dubya family, J.D., not just the ones who have bodies like yours. Bubba is blessed to have you shepherding him during these tough and confusing days, and we are blessed getting to join you in prayers for the rapid healing of that damaged tendon.

    I can sort of relate to Bubba, since God has decided to “bless” me with another joint that decided not to cooperate with the rest of me. That leaves me with a significant reduction in stuff I’m able to do for a while, but it brings a reminder along with it. It reminds me of how many years I totally ignored that thing He inserted in the laws He sent Moses to deliver. You know, that thing about taking a day off once a week to just get off the treadmill and giving ourselves a break. It’s interesting that God had to command us to regularly get out of those economic/social/cultural/even religious “olive presses” we tend to built and throw ourselves into. If taking a day to rest and focus on Him wasn’t a big deal, and if we weren’t so systematically averse to really engaging in it, then He wouldn’t have bothered to demand it. Of course the Pharisees and their priestly cohorts and religious bigots perverted the whole idea and made it just another kind of pressure cooker for us to stew in. In any case, God bless you for helping Bubba withdraw and get his healing done. And thanks for another powerful illustration that there are lots of ways we can pass along to others the love and tender compassion that God shows us every day.

    1. LOL Mr. Ron! Bubba does have a body like mine; that is what contributed to his injury I suspect. Was it jumping in and out of the UTV, crawling under the barbed wire, chasing a stray dog or coyote, or maybe dancing with another snake (he’s a prolific snake-eliminator) or chasing a barn cat that dared get near his food bowl. Not sure how the injury occurred, but we’re into week two of his recovery, and he’s not liking it one bit. Like you and me I suspect, he’d rather tolerate the pain and do what needs to be done (at least in our minds) than to rest and heal up. Perhaps that’s why our Father has to force us to rest in Him sometimes. I’m praying your upcoming surgery and rest brings both physical healing and spiritual insight my friend. So much truth in your words my friend. Consider me soundly smacked right between the eyes with a word from God. God’s blessings; and know we’re all praying for you here on the Cross-Dubya sir.

  14. Unc, So sorry to hear about Bubba’s injury. We’ll all be praying for a speedy recovery. Loved your words as always, very inspiring. Love Bob, Kim and the guys

    1. Thanks Mr. Bob. I can’t point to any one specific thing that happened that could’ve caused this, but I wonder if it’s the result of several small tears and has not become unrepairable. All I can do is leave it in God’s hands sir. Love and miss all y’all. Wish you could see the big garden we put in outside Aunti’s bedroom window. Your dad would be proud. 🙂 God’s blessings il mio famiglia.

  15. Our pets have much to show us. It’s hard for us to accept our times of rest–Covid, the two times I broke the same foot, 20 years apart. anytime we’re under the weather or the car breaks down or there’s a snow day. It helps to admit that God sets up these times of rest and act accordingly. Great message for us, JD, and God bless your pup!

  16. Bubba has given us such a good picture of the rest we all need sometimes to refocus on God or be refreshed for what He has next. Thank you for this reminder that there are different reasons of those enforced rests and God knows which we each need and when. I’ll be praying for Bubba to heal and be able to rejoin ranch life!

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Kathy. Last evening, I let him out onto the carport with me. He saw his seat open on the UTV (even though it was parked). He hopped up and whined until I took him for a ride to go do night checks of the livestock. To feel his head resting upon my chest and the pounding of his tail against the seat, I’m not sure who enjoyed it more. Him or me. 😀 I too am praying he can recover from this fully and enjoy many more active years here on the ranch with us.

  17. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and powerful message with us, J.D. I’m sorry to hear about Bubba, but I hope you both enjoy this special time together. I’ve had several times in my life when the Lord “made” me rest and spend more time with Him. Once I was on complete bedrest for over three months. Although I wanted to keep doing the things I was used to, the extra quiet time with the Lord was precious. The Lord always knows what we need. Just as Bubba needs time to rest and regain his strength, sometimes we just need more time resting in theLord’s presence and meditating on His Word.

    1. I’m right there with you Ms. Esther. Two heart attacks and subsequent procedures. A rebuilt shoulder. Countless knee surgeries. All requiring me to take time to rest, heal, and seek God’s face more than I had been beforehand. God knows, and cares enough to force into accepting what He knows we need. God’s blessings gentle friend; and thank you so much for joining our conversation.

  18. How amazing to read all the testimonies of a “forced rest” in this thread. It seems it’s God’s common denominator for all of us, and if we haven’t experienced that rest, we certainly will in the future! I had the “rest” of my life back in 1993 with pneumonia and mono combined, a 2-week hospital stay, and 3-month convalescence. But God was talking to me (I had been too busy, you see) and preparing me for the most incredible journey of my life. So incredible that the Lord is having me write a book about it to help others who have been deceived by evil but freed by Him. P.S. Prayers for sweet Bubba, poor dear.

    1. Yes ma’am. It seems I hit upon a theme common to many of us Ms. Karen. I think a 3-month rest would drive me “batty” (not that I’m very far from that most days), but it sure sounds like God proved Romans 8:28 to you my friend. When can I pre-order that book?! I’m ordering multiple copies. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Connie. As you know our Bubba, I know you recognize how miserable he must be missing out on all the adventures he has as the Cross-Dubya’s guardian. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  19. I feel your pain, J.D. You remember when my Strider had shoulder surgery. He was made to run and leap and couldn’t understand why I kept him confined. But that time of confinement allowed him to heal and now he’s the fastest dog I’ve ever seen. May the Lord touch Bubba and grant him the ability to join you in your work again. Another example of how being able to join our Master in His work is a joy and privilege.

    1. Thank you Ms. Debbie. I do remember how right after you brought Strider home you faced that difficult decision and then followed where your prayers led. I’m doing the same thing here with Bubba. It’s difficult to watch a beloved pet suffer, but like you, I know His healing can make all the difference for my pal.

  20. Isn’t it funny how much we long for rest and how very stubborn we are to get it! In my life it has far too much to do with pride. You are a gentle helper for Bubba, and so the Savior is for us as He knows always the rest we need. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Mine too Ms. Sylvia. “I’m too important (in my own mind) to rest and depend on another.” God says, “Wanna bet?” 🙂 Thank you for commenting ma’am.

  21. Almost every dog we have ever owned has required a period of confinement for healing. Not days but weeks! It is so hard to do and they never understand. We’ve had fold-out cages in our living room. We had one dog jump our fence in a leg cast! I join you in praying for Bubba’s knee and thank you for your compassion in letting him be with you. I cannot count how many times I have requested for the Lord to give me sweet rest. He finally got tired of hearing it and made it possible for me to retire!

    1. I heard that ma’am. While my retirement brought much-needed relief from the high stress world I worked in, I’m pretty sure I’m busier in retirement than I was while working. 🙂 Thank you so much for the prayers for Bubba sweet friend.

  22. This week, I’ve been listening to daily messages about rest. Two main takeaways–I have limits, and I need to think of rest as a gift given to me for my benefit from my Father. Thanks, J.D. for your confirmation!

  23. Sorry it’s taken me a while to circle back and leave a comment. Poor Bubba. I hope he rests and recovers quickly from his injury. I know the feeling. When I’m down in my back, it’s hard not being up and “at-em” or having my independence. Psalm 23 is one of my favorites because there’s so much to glean from the passage that we sometimes gloss over as a familiar reading.

    1. Yes ma’am Ms. Karen. I too find it difficult to stop and “heal up”. I somehow think I must always “be in the fight”, but then again even Christ Jesus took time to get away, rest, and pray. God made the Sabbath for a reason didn’t He? God’s blessings sweet lady; and I pray your back is holding up well these days.

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