The Art of Rest

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I recently saw a post on Pinterest that simply read, “Stop the glorification of busy.” Granted, we all have various seasons in life that call for more exertion and planning, and longer hours of work. I am even in the middle of one of those seasons now! Just look to my blog archive and the recent eight week hiatus. Perhaps this is why my heart rejoiced when I saw the painted words above and thought, Yes this is what I need! 

Busyness creeps up on us. It seems harmless, transient, without major consequence. But all too often I have found the opposite to be true. Being busy makes it difficult for me to read, to spend time in prayer, and to really pour into my most important relationships. Being busy does not allow time for healing and recovery in all of our physical, spiritual, and emotional capacities.

This weekend a friend asked how I was doing, and the first (and only) word that came to mind was weary. Ah yes, of course. I need rest. It is not a want, but a need. Somehow this seems like the antithesis of American culture, which only makes it more difficult. Who knew there could be a discipline of resting?

To start, the author of Hebrews did. Chapter four of Hebrews describes God’s plan for rest, starting with the very first Sabbath and extending to the New Testament, as instruction for His believers even thousands of years later. The author states,

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:11 ESV

The King James translation perhaps phrases this verse more clearly:

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

There are two significant words that jump out from the page when I read this: unbelief and labour. I believe the author was not mistaken in his words in writing this, implying that

1. Lacking rest and failing to rest in God causes us to lose faith.

2. To enter into God’s planned rest for us we must be intentional.

But we live in a busy world where work, responsibilities, and commitments are a facet of everyday life. Even when I can’t change the spinning world, I have found a few practical thoughts on protecting a time of rest and creating a culture of productive yet restful living.

Change your schedule. All too often I will complain about the many things I have to do. Things that I have signed up for. To persevere in work is a great quality, but so is the ability to say no. This is a very personal question. How you decide commitments is an individual choice. Have you prayed about your commitments?

Change your expectations of yourself. What do you expect of yourself? We are human. We have limitations, and this is a good thing! A long sleep after a hard days work is probably one of the most rewarding things. And one of the most comforting when sick is a full day in bed with soup, tea and a book.

Change your expectations of God. When busyness’s ugly friend anxiety steps in, I am a goner. The work involved in completing a list of tasks is not nearly as discouraging as worrying about getting them done. When I worry, I am not trusting our Lord and Savior. Just the meaning of those two names is a reminder of our position in relationship to His position. We are not meant to carry the weight of everything, nor can we. But He is and He can. My favorite illustration is Jesus as our Shepherd.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. – Psalm 23:1-3a

So in this season I’m learning again what it is to rest well, and to rest in Him. To create space for Him to move and to release my grip of control, because I know I am taken care of.

 

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