My personal journey over the last several years has been a difficult, yet rewarding season of life. Through a lot of hard work, pain, and grace, I feel like a fog has been lifted. Literally. I’ve been able to take back control of my mind and my time, and use the assets God gave me for His glory and the good of those around me. Before, I’d see an unattainable list of things that a good American woman ‘should’ be able to accomplish, and I’d just shut down, doing none of it. Now, I can prioritize better, and really devote energy to where it needs to go, and see real results in those areas.
But there was an element missing in my new formula for these more attainable successes. Rest.
The year 2020 has shown me that even minds that are functioning as they should require rest. It’s not a weakness or character flaw, it’s in our design. And I was enjoying my new found mental efficiency to a point that it was draining me. I was draining myself. Thankfully, God brought it to my attention before it became too large of an issue.
Just this past week, I came home from work exhausted. Brandon gave me a sympathetic hug and assured me that all would be OK. And he cooked dinner….hubby points to Brandon! I’m sure he was expecting the old me, who would burst out in tears of stress and exhaustion. But I didn’t. I realized that I was just tired. “This is weird, I’m not in a bad mood, I’m just really tired.” It was a healthy tired.
But this got my brain going. How do we rightly handle being tired? How do we walk the line between being productive/tired and unproductive/lazy? Do our physical brains need rest? Do our souls need rest?
I’d been so intentional about personal habits and limits, but maybe I was missing one vitally important one. Maybe I should be more intentional about rest? Even as I write, I feel as though I’m still wrapping my mind around this idea. More to come on the some practical ways to rest…
But today, I really am just understanding what real rest looks like, where my rest should focus. For those who are Christians, our go-to place for direction should be the Bible. It’s a great resource for anyone, but it’s imperative for the believer. And there are perfect examples of the need for rest in the Bible.
I love the Psalms of David. I can relate to the man. Sometimes I read him and think “OK drama queen, is it really that bad?”. But so often, I’m just as dramatic. Just think, though…David, a man after God’s own heart, a strong warrior, a famous king of Israel, said this… “Fear and trembling have best me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would hurry to a place of shelter far from the tempest and storm’.” (Psalm 55:5-6,8)
Even David longed for retreat, rest from the chaos of the world. Anyone out there relate? But maybe you feel like you’ve got it more together than David. Guess who else needed rest? Jesus! The Son of God who died for the sins of the world- He required rest.
There are multiple mentions of Jesus making time for rest. He hit ‘pause’ in the middle of something as good as His short earthly ministry to take a break. There are times that He gets up early, retreats to a solitary place, and prays. The disciples woke up later and couldn’t find Him! (Mark 1:35-38) Right before the iconic feeding of the 5,000, Jesus spoke these words to His disciples “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”. (Mark 6:31) The disciples were doing the work of the Lord diligently, but the Lord knew that they needed rest. And right before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He was found in the garden, separated from the rest of his disciples, spending time by Himself praying. (Matthew 26:36-46).
Reading how Jesus treated rest brings me to the next thing that I’ve learned about rest. It has a purpose. In our rest, we should seek God, who gives true rest. Did you notice that every time Jesus rested it involved praying? He knew where the source of true rest came from!
So often we see that time spent with Jesus, by reading His Word or praying, is just another thing to check off our to-do lists, therefore we don’t readily associate it with rest. I’m not judging you if is your reality…..it was mine for many years of my life. I’d roll my eyes and see it one more thing filling up my plate for the day.
If that’s you, let me encourage you. Keep on checking it off your list. Every day. I can promise you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that time spent with Jesus will never be time wasted. Spending time with my Savior is why I get excited about getting up at 5 AM. Sitting down at my desk in the quiet of the morning with a hot cup of coffee and my Bible is the highlight of my day. It wasn’t always like this. It was drudgery for a long time. But as I fell more in love with my Savior through the process, my heart softened and changed. It’s worth every minute of extra sleep I could have to be up early with Jesus.
I’m going to explore some more practical ways to achieve rest in my next article. But it’s important that we understand where true rest is found before we jump into the practical. Without our focus in the right place, our rest won’t be quite as sweet.
Jesus is not up in Heaven watching your performance, just wishing you’d try harder, do more, and check off more boxes. Yes, He expects His followers to obey Him and daily become more like Him, but He also understands our human design and our need for rest. He was 100% human, so He gets it. Which is why He tells us….
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Take a moment to rest in the One who loves you more than anyone ever will.