Sermon Notes for the teaching at Christian Fellowship Church on Sunday, May 9.
The Humility of Rest
by Jo Scott
1- Good morning,
2- My name is Jo Scott and I am honored to be speaking before you this morning. Close to a year ago, I was asked to give the message I am about to share with you all at the 2020 cfWomen’s conference. In being asked to share message with the broader congregation I have a sense of wonder at the messes God uses for His glory.
3- I am going to proceed with the assumption that there are some of you who do not know who I am. I have been attending Christian Fellowship for close to 12 years with my husband and children. In that time, we have served primarily in the children’s ministry. I now serve as the Family Life Coordinator as well as stepping into the role of Coordinating the Living Waters ministry.
4-This position was such an answer to prayer for my family. It brought me to a place where the lessons of the past 17 years came together in an opportunity to put into action all that I have learned.
5- My husband and I have 5 children, our 21- and 19-year-old boys through foster and adoption, as well as a 13 and 11 year old boys and a 5 year old girl naturally.
6- Last year my then 12-year-old complained frequently of growing pains in his legs. It is no wonder seeing as he grew six inches in the last year.
7- At one point I remember saying to him “growth always takes us someplace, but it is rarely comfortable getting there.”
8- I was taken aback by my own words. As I thought back on moments of marked growth, they were each proceeded by periods of great discomfort. Yet, through the aches, I grew.
9- These words were never as true as through my journey to learn to rest.
10- I am not from this area originally, though my husband would say that after 17 years, I might as well claim it. I moved to Missouri from California to attend Bible college in Moberly. People tend to ask why I chose Moberly of
all places. Honestly, I couldn’t find the place on a map when I searched. The college offers a tuition paid scholarship to their students, so I was just hoping it was real place when my family made the drive to bring me out here.
11- One of my fondest memories of college was an oral presentation I gave my freshman year. Each student had to choose a Bible story to retell in front of the class with some type of prop to bring the story to life. When my turn came around, I had chosen to retell the story of Mary and Martha as told in Luke 10:38-42.
12- I stood up in front of my class with a scarf on my head and spoke as though I was Martha, struggling to get my house together because Jesus was there. I was so frustrated with my sister. She was resting at the feet of Jesus, just sitting there while I was doing all the work. Could no one see how much I was doing? Why would Jesus let her sit there while I worked so hard? Then, I got admonished. Mary was right in the eyes of Jesus.
13- I remember coming out of character and imploring my fellow classmates to remember that we are called to rest at the feet of Jesus to be filled. Little did I know this would be a picture of my life many times over.
14- Life is a funny thing. One moment I was a teen wishing life would hurry up and start. The next moment, I was married, I had a one-year-old, and was pregnant with our second baby.
15- It was soon after finding out we were expecting our second, that my husband and I had felt called into full time ministry. This is what we had gone to school for and we were ready. We had the amazing opportunity to be full time parents at Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home in nearby Harrisburg, MO. As a couple of early 20-somethings, we got to step in as parents to, at that time, 6 and eventually 8 boys and girls needing the love and care of a family.
16- I was pumped, and ready to go. I felt like I had been training for this for those four years of college and I was ready to serve.
17- I don’t know about you, but unfortunately, when life moves faster than I can process, my time with God is the first thing I cut out to “give myself
more time.” I put this is in present tense because this is a habit I actively battle daily.
18- Early on in our time at Coyote Hill, I knew my soul needed to be filled.
19- I was a recent college graduate in my first months in a new ministry and my heart cried out to be fed. As a young wife and new mom, I was grudgingly okay with the church in which we were serving prior to Coyote Hill. It wasn’t until being pregnant the second time, and mom to 6 more that I was desperate to be filled with more than scraps and platitudes. I remember the drive back to Coyote Hill, nearly yelling in the van about the Bible not even being opened during the sermon at the church we had been visiting. Something had to change.
20- Upon the recommendation of a fellow alumnus, I Googled Christian Fellowship and let my new, larger family know there would be a change the following week.
21- Arriving on Sunday morning knew the anxiety of a mother leaving her one year old son in the nursery for the first time. Yet, at other churches where he would scream and refuse, he instead, leaned into the arms of the volunteer. Upon walking in the auditorium, the worship leader was singing a worship song instead of a popular radio hit. Then, Phil took to the podium and opened the Bible. I was sold.
22- After finding CF, I quickly joined the Multi-generational women’s Bible Study. It was a time of fellowship and spiritual refreshment; rest I could count on each Tuesday morning. Yet, as the stresses of foster parenting, and caring for a new baby took hold, attending to my soul was the first thing to go. I didn’t have time for rest.
23- As I look back, I am reminded of a recounting of a miracle of Jesus in Mark 6:30-33 it reads, The apostles *gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He *said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while.” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)And they went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves.
The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them.
24- Earlier in the chapter, it talks about Jesus having sent his disciples out in twos to teach from village to village. By the time the disciples come back around Jesus, He tells them it is time for them all to have a rest. Yet, he looks upon the people flocking to them, and has compassion on them. Instead of turning them away, he feeds them soul and body.
25- It is in verse 41 that the most amazing clarity was revealed to me. It says, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to heaven and gave thanks.
26- There has never been a time in my life that I have not been apart of church life. I say that to show this story, this miracle is not new to me. I even had a cheeky sweatshirt in high school that said A Breadcrumb and Fish in the style of Abercrombie and Fitch. I have always loved this telling, but it was not until getting this message together that something new was revealed to me.
27- During the time of quarantine, or as a friend of mine called it, the quaren-times, I had been leading a group of women through a Bible App devotional titled “Overwhelmed by my Blessings” those blessings being our children. On one of the early days, veteran mom Robin Meadows, who is sharing her wisdom through this devotional, speaks about the notion of needing to have our vessel be full to pour into others.
28- I know I haven’t shared what was revealed to me in the passage a moment ago, but I promise, its going to make sense in a minute.
29- Most of us have been taught that in order to pour into the lives of others, we must first be full. Or if not full, we must at least have something of ourselves to give.
30- Robyn goes on to say that as children of God, we are tapped into the source. We do not need to be full ourselves because the source of everything is flowing through us, if we are tapped into HIM.
31- Let me tell you, my mind was blown. It’s like God is my I.V. I just need to be plugged in, and He provides the nourishment.
33- Let’s look at Mark 6:41, It says, And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all.
34- Jesus did the most simple and profound act. He gave thanks. I kind of chuckle to myself at this, because when I think of giving thanks, I am reminded of sitting around the table for meals. “Dear Lord, thank you for this meal and the hands that prepared it. Amen.” But reading this passage through the lens of service, of giving of myself, it is so much more.
35- In giving thanks, He is affirming His connection to the Source! And through that connection, He pours out for everyone else.
36- As the Family Life Coordinator, I am given the task of recruiting volunteers to serve in cfKidz. At one point, I was scrolling through the list of names of potential volunteers and thinking of the people I know who are not already serving.
37- During this process I was given the picture of woven baskets. Ones used to carry water, intricately woven for the purpose sharing nourishment. The problem was, these baskets were worn down, frayed, in disrepair, yet still being used, though not nearly as effectively. The baskets were running to the source and dunking themselves in, with hopes of carrying enough water to sustain, but the water was spilling from the worn places.
38- Ok, pause. Get those two pictures in your head. Jesus giving thanks to His Father, Our Father, the Source of it all and providing for everyone who needed. The other, the worn baskets doing all they can to fill themselves but coming up short.
39- While I was a mom at Coyote Hill, if I stayed firmly connected to God, I was able to serve my children. It was in the misinformed notion of needing more time that I became a frayed vessel.
40- It was a subtle shift from clarity to dark skies. Like a good Missouri storm day that starts out beautiful and sunny. The clouds come in slowly, the sky turns from blue to grey. Even through the grey we can still see light, it isn’t until the first clap of thunder do we know for certain the storm has hit.
41- The same could be said of my mental health. I could see the signs, but was able to continue, until suddenly, I couldn’t. My basket was broken, and I was no longer plugged into my Source.
42- I am very open about my mental health, so I will put a name to it. Anxiety, depression. These are my bed fellows. These are the weights I carry daily. At that point in my life, I was only able to eat a couple of bites of food before getting sick. I was broken.
43- Even more, I was jealous and frustrated.
44- Why would God have me suffer through this affliction if I am supposed to be serving Him through these children.
45- This was my purpose.
46- If the other women I was serving with were able to carry on, why couldn’t I?
47- The day my supervisor looked me in the eye and asked if I was okay was one of the most humbling of my life. I had to say, “no.”
48- As a 24-year-old, I had to quickly gather the humility to ask for help, the humility to not be okay, and the humility to rest.
49- We were given two months to get our affairs in order and move on from the ministry. Here I was, a Martha. I was so busy doing the work, that I neglected the most important thing.
50- Resting at the feet of Jesus, the Source of all I do.
51- My walk with anxiety and depression has been nothing short of an adventure. I relate coming to accepting their presence in my life to going through the cycle of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.
52- As I prepared for this message, the most beautiful verses were revealed to me. I’m going to read from 2 Corinthians 12:6-10
6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me.
7 Because of the extraordinary greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to [a]torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [b]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I delight in weaknesses, in [c]insults, in distresses, in persecutions, in difficulties, in behalf of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
53- There’s that beautiful picture of humility and acceptance.
54- I am so weak y’all.
55- There is not much I can do without the power of the Lord guiding my every breath.
56- My husband and I moved to Columbia with our two little boys after our time serving at Coyote Hill. Learning to walk in the humility of my own affliction has been a series of growing moments. Remember what I said to my then 12-year-old? Growth always takes you somewhere, but it is rarely comfortable getting there.
57- In 2019 I reposted a meme on Facebook asking if I were to give a TEd Talk, what would be my topic. Two responses stuck out to me, encouraging other mama’s and not doing what is expected of me for the benefit of my family.
58- After moving to Columbia, I started the process of earning my master’s degree in Human Service Counseling and obtaining my elementary teaching certification.
59- Life never really slows down for long. By the time I was done with my degree program and ready to start teaching, I was pregnant with our third biological child and we had brought two teenage boys into our home, one with the intention to adopt. For those who hate the math’s, we went from two to five kids in the matter of four months.
60- Once again, I didn’t have time for God. Once again, I saw a decline in my mental health over the course of my years in teaching. Even medicated, I was not well. I would give my all in the classroom and have nothing left for my children and husband.
61- Here I was, a breaking basket struggling to hold enough water to sustain myself, my students, and my family. All without being connected to the Source.
62- A dear friend of mine asked if I had ever reached so far for a goal that I lost sight of myself?
63- Yes, the answer was yes.
64- She asked me what I did to fix it.
65- I told her I cut out everything except the purpose God gave me.
66- My first ministry is to my family.
67- If, after teaching I had nothing left to give, or they are getting my scraps, then I am not being the minister to their souls that they so deserve.
68- If, even medicated, I was struggling through the fog, something had to give.
69- I gave up teaching. Kind of, I left public education, and took my children with me. I am now primarily a stay at home, homeschool mama of my three littles.
70- Coming to that decision came with the clarity that I was not in a good place in my relationship with God. Again. By the end of the 2019 school year, I was hiding in my bed on Sunday mornings. The idea of being around more people was too much for my mind to handle. I was trying to get rest on my own, and that was not working.
71- I am an amazing napper and take a bath like nobody’s business. I can escape into a book like others can escape into a tv program, and I won’t come back out until I’m on the other side. These are all suggestions for self-care, but nothing was quenching my soul, I was dry, tired and broken.
72- From that place I cried out to the Lord to guide me back to a place of spiritual nourishment. My first step was to cut out the extra, but the bigger step was to tap back into the Source.
73- I never thought I would be a stay-at-home mom. I would always say, that is great for the mom’s that can do that, I am just not one of them.
74- The Lord tends to get a kick out of me making declarations like that.
75- I made one such declaration back in college after watching a movie about dancing. One of the girls I went with remarked that the only person she could see dancing like that was the funny Lorenzo guy at school. I said, wouldn’t it be funny if one of us married him. Then I knocked on wood. We were married a year and a half later. Like I said, the Lord gets a kick out of my mouth.
76- So, here I am, a stay-at-home mom, with a part time job 7 minutes from my house. It should not be difficult to find time to spend with the Lord. Right? Joke’s on me again.
77- The devotional I mentioned earlier even spoke to the need for an hour alone with the Lord to prepare and nourish her soul for the day. Like getting rest before the needs of all the things wear on her.
78- I couldn’t imagine the gift of going through my day with continued peace, especially since she suggested waking an hour before my children to find time alone.
79- That sounds counterintuitive. Wake up earlier to have more rest? Now I knew she was trippin’, but I was leading this devotional group, so I felt obligated to try and report back to my friends how it went.
80- One of the women almost thought I was tooting my own horn for a moment. Oh no, life is too messy for time with the Lord to be a smooth transition.
81- I am going to humble myself before you all as well with my stumbling to daily peace.
82- That first day-I woke up the same time as Naomi, my then 4-year-old and read my Bible and devotional while she chattered around me. I threw a couple, “uh-huh’s”, in there, but was able to give most of my attention to my reading. I felt pretty good and encouraged.
83- The second day-I set my alarm for a little earlier the next morning, again Naomi wanted my attention, but I did as the devotional lady suggested and told her, “this is my quiet time.” I got a good 5 minutes before she decided quiet time was over. I figured if I really wanted time with just the Lord and myself, I needed to go all in and wake up that hour earlier.
84- Day 3-my alarm goes off an hour before Naomi and I typically wake up. Now, Naomi is an extreme snuggler (like the X-games of snuggling here) and finds her way to my bed most nights. I quickly turned off the alarm before it got loud enough to disturb my snuggle monster. I was admittedly tired, but I was committed to spending this time alone with God. I finish with the first devotional and scriptures and move on the second one from the veteran mom. In the middle of reading, I feel a tickle on my leg and swat at it thinking it is a phantom itch. Not 2 minutes later, Naomi sits bolt upright in the bed from a dead sleep. “MOM!”, she yells. I jump seeing as she is plastered to my side. “What!?!”, I ask. “I just peed in your bed.” ”Of course you did.” Y’all, she hadn’t peed the bed in months. Months.
85- Day 4- I woke up an hour-ish early again. I tip toed to the bathroom to not wake the snuggle beast. As soon as I sit down, “Mom, you in the potty?” Then, before I can answer, she proceeded to sing Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes, before falling back asleep. I thought I had made it y’all. I crept back in the room to grab my bible and went downstairs. All was quiet as I make myself a cup of coffee until I heard, “you weft me.”
86- I sat on the kitchen floor that morning while she watched Frozen 2 in the living room, I did it.
87- It has been a year now. This year has brought a lot of joy and clarity to my life. Not like sunshine and
rocks. It is my joy to hold the hand of Jesus as we make our way from one rock to another.
88- One of the symptoms of anxiety can be insomnia. Instead of setting an alarm to wake up early, I have learned to use my “why am I awake” hours as my “thank you God for this time” hours. The days I don’t, I can feel a marked difference in my spirit. Those days, I am not resting. I am irritable and worn. I become a frayed basket so quickly if I don’t tap into He who gives me life.
89- My friends, we live in a time that celebrates exhaustion. We are shown that those who are rested must not be doing enough or are the lucky. But that is not it, in fact the opposite is true.
90- In the fall of 2020, I asked to take on more responsibility here at Christian Fellowship as a staff member. The Lord has continually broken my heart for hurting people. When it came to my attention that the Living Waters ministry needed a coordinator, the Holy Spirit was not subtle in telling me to move. Balancing homeschooling my children, working part-time, and being a wife and mother is not small potatoes. It was not long before I was nervous that I would return to my habit of dropping God for busyness.
91- But God is gracious and rest is a gift. A beautiful gift that even the Lord partakes of in the beginning, or day 7 as it were. He wants us to rest, and that rest is found in Him. All that is required is for us to have the humility to sit at His feet and take it in.