Following at Jesus’ Feet: a Recipe for Perfect Rest
“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips” (Psalm 34:1).
When we read the Psalms, or even look at the writings of Paul or many other Bible heroes, it seems like these followers of God did nothing but worship, night and day. It is encouraging for us to read about the ways their faith helped them through trials, but their devotion can also feel intimidating. You may find yourself asking “could I ever be that faithful, that joyful to worship the Lord?”
To “pray without ceasing” as 1 Thessalonians tells us, can quickly start to feel like a chore. Our lives are busy, and to add “be more faithful” to the list encourages stress, not peace. However, when our thoughts start to drift in this direction, I would argue that we have entirely the wrong mindset. God doesn’t give us these verses to shame us, and having our whole lives focused on praise is honestly not an unrealistic expectation for believers. This goal is something we all can achieve, even with busy careers, young children, travel plans and endless piles of dishes.
To understand this a bit better, let’s look at an earthly example. Hopefully this helps reframe your mindset when it comes to focusing your life on Christ.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/KristinaKibler
Ever since the day I got my puppy, he has loved me to pieces. On the drive to his new forever home, he didn’t even want to sit on the floor of the car – just in my lap. Now, even though he’s grown, he still follows me from room to room, usually demands to sit somewhere that’s touching me, and always does “happy spins” when I come home. We’re a pack, and he feels comforted knowing that I’m close by.
I love my magnetic little dog. It is a joy to know that I make him feel so comfortable and loved. This is especially true as I can think of many times when I was not the perfect dog mom. I get frustrated – with him, or myself, or the situation – and I yell at him and push him away unjustly. But he always comes back to me seeking my love and affection.
My dog knows that I’m the best person to offer him comfort. He knows that I feed him and take him outside when he needs it. He knows that I give him joy in playtime, and that I can work some sort of magic when he feels sick to make him better. I am not a perfect pet parent, but my dog sure thinks I am.
When we think about the unconditional love of a dog, we can get a foggy glimpse of the relationship we have with our loving Heavenly Father. Except in this instance, He is the perfect parent, and we are the excitable, trouble-making pup. This is the sort of relationship that our hearts crave – to have someone we can run to for perfect comfort, joy and love. Unlike with me and my dog, our heavenly Father will never get short with us or push us away unjustly. He gets the same joy from seeing us that I get when my dog does his happy you’re home! dance. God desires to see those “happy spins,” and to have us follow Him around through every step of our lives.
The world we live in is exhausting on the best of days. God knows this, and it’s exactly why he encourages us in His Word to run to Him, to always keep our lives focused on Him. Just like my dog follows me around because he is comforted by being near me, we get an all-encompassing sense of rest and relief when we “follow” God around the room. It’s what our souls crave.
In fact, you may not notice it, but you are likely trying to fill that spot in your heart with something. Even the busiest of us will take a few minutes a day to scroll social media, or hit the gym, or listen to a favorite podcast or book. We all desire rest, and it is a good thing to spend quiet time to yourself doing these things. But don’t mistake the temporary rest you may get from earthly pleasures for the supernatural peace you will get from sitting with the Father.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
What Does It Look Like to Follow God Around?
What would it actually look like, in our everyday lives, to follow the example of our dogs? Without God physically with us, how can we follow after Him daily?
1. Spend Time with Him
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
As I write this article, my dog is sitting right at my feet. He knows I’ll reach over and pet him every once in a while, but mostly he just wants to be doing what I’m doing. We can have this same mindset with our Father.
Spend time with Him by reading your Bible – this is one of the ways that God speaks to us today. Spend time with Him by praying and lifting up your concerns. He wants to hear from you! And while He is glad to listen to our problems and concerns, did you know you can pray and just chat with God? Thank Him for what’s going well in your life, or maybe use some prayer time just to praise Him for all that He has done and is doing.
Spending time in the Word will encourage us and help us to be wiser and more discerning when issues arise in our everyday lives. It’s good for us to rest in the Word and be encouraged, but we are also told to take those words out with us into the world. It’s one of the ways God helps arm us for the battles that He knows are coming!
God may not physically be there for us to sit at His feet, but He still wants to spend that time with His kids.
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2. Seek to Impress Him
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).
I love teaching my dog tricks. When I’m introducing a new trick, I’ll start with lots of tasty treats, so he can get a sense of what I want him to do. But once he’s got the hang of it, I’ll switch to mostly verbal praise – “Good boy, Caspian! So smart!” My dog loves this kind of reaction. He’ll wag his tale and usually repeat the action, just to get me to praise him again.
Like a dog proudly performing a trick, or a child who gladly offers to help with a chore, we don’t try to impress God because we think it will get us anything. Nothing we can do could ever make God feel differently about us. But we serve, and tithe, and love others, and praise the Lord, because it is good to do so. It gives God joy to see these things, and it helps us to grow in faith and trust as well.
The greatest deed – the crucifixion and resurrection – has already been done for us. We are adopted sons and daughters of Christ and are already inheriting the greatest prize. We are free now to live out lives of praise and worship for this gift of life. As James explains in the verse above, when we fully understand the message of the Gospel, we desire to respond with actions. We can’t just be believers of the word, we must also be doers.
3. Listen to Him
“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’” (1 Samuel 3:10).
My last example is simple: just spend time in meditation, listening to God (and always be ready to respond when you feel Him tugging you in one direction.) This is perhaps the easiest way for us to spend intentional time with God, because all you have to do is have an open heart and mind.
But it is also the most difficult for those of us with busy lives. If you’ve ever tried to hold a conversation in a crowded room, then you know how difficult – if not impossible – it is to hear what the other person is saying. The same holds true for us when we listen for God. We can’t sit in our crowded, loud, busy lives and expect God to scream over the noise (although I suppose He could, we probably wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end at that point.)
Find a quiet space to just sit and see what God wants to lay on your heart. Maybe listen to a sermon or some worship music, or just sit in prayer and meditation on a verse or passage. When we do this, and are more attuned to His voice, we will be better prepared when He calls to us like Samuel, who heard the voice of the Lord and immediately responded “Here I am.”
One final word of warning here – there’s nothing wrong with meditation and listening, but measure whatever you feel up against Scripture itself. If it ever seems like the Spirit is leading you to do something that is in violation of what’s in the Bible, then that word is not from God. Always listen with wisdom and discernment.
We must be alert to the sound of God’s voice. Listen to it to avoid danger, to grow closer to Him, and to follow whatever path He wants to lead you on.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Takako Watanabe
A Prayer to Pursue Christ, at All Times
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for rescuing me God. Truly my salvation is the greatest gift, but I fear that it is something I take for granted, or even forget about, far too often. I confess that I seek out earthly pleasures and comforts before I even think to turn to you. God, I pray that you would be at work in my heart, so that I can be seeking out opportunities to spend quality time with you, to praise you through my actions, and to be aware of your voice in my heart. Give me discipline, Lord, to do these things even when life gets busy, or when I feel tempted to pursue other things. I love you Lord, and I need more of you in my life. Help me to see the ways you are working in my life, and the ways you want me to use my time, my talents, and my resources, to further your Kingdom and grow in my own faith. Thank you for always being there God, for listening to me and for being patient with me as I grow into the person you have planned for me to be.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
As you close this article and go back to your regular, busy life, remember that spending time at Jesus’ feet, or following Him from room-to-room, is not a chore. We follow Him because He gives us life, He gives us hope, and He gives us joy. To stay in the room by ourselves means sitting in the dark. Follow His light, and find the rest that you so desperately seek.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Bethany Pyle is the editor for Bible Study Tools.com and the design editor for Crosscards.com. She has a background in journalism and a degree in English from Christopher Newport University. When not editing for Salem, she enjoys good fiction and better coffee.