The Battle of Rest

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” – Psalm 100:4

The smell of paint thinner seems to seep from every pore of my skin. He doused me in it when I wrestled the bottle from him. There is nothing uglier than losing a loved one, even temporarily, to empty eyes and hallucinations, to talk to the demons tormenting through the mouth of your son. “Father, what am I going to do now?”

My son, who was a street kid for four years, was in the middle of a drug relapse with paint thinner. He has been with me for nearly two years, spending a year of that in Teen Challenge, a drug rehab facility. He had been sober for one year and seven months, and this relapse seemed to appear from out of nowhere. I had taken him in after he called me from the hospital with a broken leg from a drugged fight. His family wanted nothing to do with him. The only other person to arrive to help was an adult who had exploited his drug addiction for prostitution (although I didn’t know that until much later).

When I was 16-years-old, long before I pondered the possibility of being a pilgrim in another land and shortly before my feet touched Honduran soil, my all-knowing Father told me the name of my first son. I forgot that word for years until the day when they were releasing my boy from the hospital, and the name was one and the same. I have fought very hard for the baby of my family of adopted children. We have walked together his long road of healing from generational drug addiction, abandonment, sexual abuse, extreme poverty, and delinquency.

“It’s just a fall, Sarah. It’s not the end of the world. Just let him come off of it and talk to him. God can still do the work of restoration,” said the leader from Teen Challenge on the phone. The problem was that my son was angry, violent, and adamant about grabbing his stuff to return to the streets. I love my son more than I could ever put into words even though we don’t have the same blood coursing through our veins. God knew he was meant to be mine. I may not have carried him in my womb or pushed him in a stroller, but I carried him as a prophecy in my heart and pushed him in a wheelchair leaving the hospital. God heard his prayers from childhood asking for a mami, and He granted him me.

It was a battle of will and love for hours reminding him of Jesus’ blood and his value and refusing to let him go back to the streets. It was the type of fight where you can feel a soul on the brink, hanging in the balance of eternity.

But, he still disappeared with a hidden bottle of paint thinner even without his stuff. I had no idea where he was and collapsed in tears asking my Papa, “Now what am I supposed to do? Two years, only to lose him now?” The only answer I heard whispered in my spirit was, “Just worship Me.” That would not have been my instinct, but I obeyed.

Raúl, my boyfriend, and my other son began to walk my whole house interceding, rebuking the powers of darkness, and calling for mercy for my prodigal child. I went into my room, put on some worship music, and just began to tell God how worthy He is even in the midst of uncertainty and pain. I just began to enter His presence with thanksgiving, changing my attitude from despair to gratefulness. “Even if I lose him, You are worthy. I did it for You, so it was worth it.” With hands raised and between tears, I felt His embrace and heard Him say, “Rest. Your greatest weapon in this trial is rest. The Lord fights for you. You need only be still.”

Hours later, deep into the night, my baby was home. He was once again in his right mind sitting on the couch, crying. “Mami, it’s me again. It’s your real son again. Why do you keep fighting for me? I’m such a piece of trash. Why don’t I ever change?” We talked of God’s grace and that our imperfections just show us our desperate need for our Savior, Jesus. I held him and prayed over him and wiped away his tears until he was ready to sleep. “I was so close to losing him, but you won the battle, Jesus.”

It was a painful trial, and we still have a long road ahead of picking him back up, but I learned something important in the midst of that crisis. Our greatest weapon is often rest. It is choosing not to open the door to despair, fear, the overdose of the “what-ifs,” or entitlement but instead to enter His presence with wonder, thanksgiving, and praise even when we don’t have an answer. There is something about entering that secret place that gives the angels the power to fight for us and that strengthens our faith to believe for the impossible.

When was a time that God’s presence proved to be greater than your circumstances?

Photo Source : Unsplash


  1. Kristina January 6, 2015

    This is such a beautiful story Sarah! Praise God for showing this boy his love and grace for him through you.


    1. Sarah Crickenberger January 7, 2015

      Thank you for your kind words, Kristina! I have to tell you, though, none of it is possible without God’s steady grace. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned through my children and through saying yes to Jesus even when self-preservation is screaming no. He is the Beautiful One, and I just get to go along for the ride.

  2. Brittany January 7, 2015

    Rest truly is such a battle, especially in the midst of such a trial!  We want to DO not REST.  Doing seems helpful, rest seems counterproductive.  But I’m learning so much about the presence of God and there is absolutely power found there.  I had a miscarriage last summer and am pregnant again.  The wait to make sure everything is okay has been so long!  With my precious lost one, I started spotting at 9 weeks but didn’t find out that I had lost the baby until week 11 when I went for an ultrasound.  This time, I started spotting on Christmas day, at 10 weeks.  It was a full 2 weeks before my appointment when I would get to see whether all was okay.  What a journey with the Lord!  Every day was a new challenge to REST in the Lord.  Everything was completely out of my control.  There was nothing to DO but wait on Him and trust that He is good no matter what.  My journal is filled with fighting for rest–expressing my fears, fighting the lies, seeking the comfort of Truth.  And in His presence, He did the work.  He transformed my heart.  He brought me to a place where I could walk into my appointment and KNOW that He is good no matter what.  Honestly, there was still a part of me that was scared…does that ever really go away completely?  I mean, He’s still at work until the day of Christ Jesus!  But He brought me on a journey of true rest in Him.  My baby is THRIVING for which I am beyond grateful.  But I also know that if the outcome had been different, Jesus could still cultivate rest in my heart because He is still GOOD.

    1. Amy Young January 7, 2015

      Brittany, I echo what Sarah said, thanks for sharing and for letting us journey with you, albeit from afar! How scary. Resting is not all palm fronds and grapes, is it? 🙂

    2. T January 7, 2015

      Praying for more and more courage for you to continue resting and for your baby!

  3. Sarah Crickenberger January 7, 2015

    Brittany, thank you so much for sharing your story. I admire your resilience in trusting the Father with the desires of your heart even as you lean into the truth of His goodness.

    I definitely know the struggle of being a doer. Something that God laid on my heart three or four years ago comes from the story of Jacob. I’m always fascinated by names and their meanings, and I can see how God declares purpose through the names He gives. Jacob means “supplanter” or “heel”–the lowest of the low. So, he pretends to be Esau, the firstborn, to lift himself up in position. Esau often is understood to mean “hairy” but the Hebrew etymology lends itself to convey another meaning–“doer.” Thus, Jacob, the lowest of the low, pretends to be a doer to win blessing, birthright, and favor with God. But, it really isn’t until he wrestles with God/an angel (depending on your interpretation) that it’s revealed who he’s really called to be–Israel. The name Israel has many translations and meanings, but one of those is “God strives.” Although it’s still a struggle for me, God reminds me often through this word that He wants us to stop pretending to be doers or trying to earn His favor and just be still in His presence, allowing Him to lift us up as He strives.

    Thank you for being brave enough to declare God’s goodness no matter your circumstances. And, I stand with you in faith that the child you carry is already loved, already has a God-known name of purpose, and that the good Father of all carries you both in the protective palm of His hand.

  4. MaDonna January 9, 2015

    Rest. It sure is an easy word to say. It’s even easy to spell. I wish I could just do it consistently. To be still and know. Thank you Sarah, and Brittany too, for your examples of resting…

    Sarah, I loved how the Lord prompted you to worship. I do believe that it is in our time of worshiping that we do find rest. That is when we forget to worry and pace, forget to make plans and act on them….it’s in that time that we can wait anticipating what HE will do in the midst of the storm.

    I pray that you, Sarah, will continue to walk in the LORD’s strength and rest in his power this year, and the years to come.

    Brittany, I pray that your precious little baby will rest and continue to thrive until the right time for he/she is to be welcomed into the world. I pray, too, that you have peace and rest during this time as well.

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