by Bethany Wouters, Content Manager
“In a culture that praises busyness, rest is an act of bravery.” Jon Acuff
Recently, I was asked a question I didn’t know how to respond to.
“When do you rest?”
When do I rest? I thought to myself. I rest all the time. I go to bed earlier than most and take naps when I can. Unfortunately for me, I knew the type of rest he was talking about, and that wasn’t it.
Like Jon Acuff stated in the quote above, our culture idolizes the state of busyness. We try to maximize our time by ensuring that what we do takes as little time as possible. There is much to do in a day, and little time to do it. We get frustrated if the work we are doing takes longer than our allotted twenty minutes to complete. I think that is partially why I am frustrated with this blog post, because it has taken me over a month to finish.
A friend of mine said that the Lord had rebuked him of being caught up in serving Him over spending time with Him, and I found myself sympathizing. Sound familiar? The blog post I wrote about Mary and Martha reared its head once again, reminding me of what I had encouraged others and myself to do: focus on the One whom you are serving, rather than the act of serving. Sadly, I did not heed my own advice. Serving became more important to me than sitting at His feet and listening to what God wanted to teach me — how to rest.
In Hebrews 4, the author writes:
Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,'” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place: “They shall not enter my rest.” Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it had been said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
This passage (verses 1-11) talks about entering the rest God has designed. If He Himself rested from work, don’t you think we should, too? In Exodus chapter 20, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments, the fifth one being, “Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.” Jesus is our Sabbath! He allows us to cease from striving in our flesh to make things happen because the culmination of works was completed on the cross. Why do we, myself included, heed the other commandments as best we can yet neglect this rest? I think it’s because we think resting is a sign of weakness. It’s too easy. We are naturally inclined to take on as much as we can so we appear as these successful, on-top-of-everything people who can take whatever this world throws at them. Who has time to rest when there’s work that can be done?
The idea that we are lazy and unproductive when we are in a state of rest is wrongful thinking. The things God has commanded of us are good. Do not believe the lie that resting is equivalent to weakness or slothfulness. Even the strongest person needs to rest. Without resting, you will burn out. I will burn out. There will come a point where your mind/emotions/body cannot work any further and will shut down. I have firsthand experiences of this happening. It isn’t fun.
In the past, I would rest in the Lord by going to a quiet place, i.e. the MHS campus lake, and wait. I would ask for God to open my ears and heart to hear Him and receive whatever it was He wanted to say to me. Sometimes a verse would come to mind. Other times a sin I hadn’t repented of would be brought up. There were also times when I didn’t “hear” anything. It was in these times that I learned the discipline of truly resting. When the Lord didn’t speak to me directly or impress a passage on my heart, I would sit in silence. My mind would be clear of anything apart from God, and I found myself relaxed and at peace. I wasn’t worried about what projects I needed to get done at work or what the future might hold or anything else that usually plagues my thoughts. If I’m being honest, I haven’t done that in over a year. I can’t remember the last time I actually rested in the Lord. This post is for you just as much as it is me.
My friends, don’t be like me and overwork yourself and neglect God. Pray and ask the Lord for guidance on what work and ministry/ministries He has truly called you to and desires for you to do, and then prioritize your schedule. Like the author of Hebrews writes, entering into the rest God has provided for us needs to be done with diligence. We need to be actively pursuing rest. It isn’t just a physical state, either, but a mental, emotional, and spiritual one. Take time out of your week to rest in what God has for you, which includes spending actual time with Him. You will find that resting, both outwardly and inwardly, allows for you to be more productive and attentive to detail, and allows for you to be able to do more in the long run.
Rest. It’s worth it.