Do you hate to rest? I’m not talking about a good night’s sleep; we all love that. I’m talking about dropping everything and doing nothing for a while.
For many years I’d go months without taking a break; then I’d get a week or two off from my life and I would wonder why God had allowed the rest. Was something big coming my way? In hindsight I know that it was because I wouldn’t take the break unless it was handed to me. Even God rested after six days. He wants us to rest regularly, not once every few months.
I struggled when I had to learn that lesson. I believed that rest is for the lazy. Keep going! Keep doing! Keep your hands and mind busy! Rest once in awhile was something I could look forward to; regular rest was not.
There are many verses in the Bible concerning rest, and the Sabbath is a big deal because one of the purposes it accomplishes is that we get refreshed as we rest. For years I did honor the Sabbath, but although my body rested, my mind didn’t, couldn’t. I was so accustomed to being an enabler, and taking care of everyone else, that even when my body was still, my mind and heart still raced; my emotions were always near the edge, threatening to bubble over. Many of us don’t know how to rest; and in fact, may still struggle with it.
Recently, faced with direction-decisions and situations, I thought it was time to once again fast and pray so as to discern God’s guidance in our lives. Instead, the Lord’s voice was very clear to me, ‘It’s time you rest.’ Of course when we don’t know how to rest, the command to rest is not what we want to hear. Fasting and praying is active, and we feel that we are joining God in doing something to achieve the end we’re hoping for; resting is the opposite; it means putting everything down and away, and doing nothing. The Lord assures us that we will hear Him clearly as we rest. Remember Elijah on the mountain?
This season of rest has been work for me, but I’m getting better at it. I put away the thoughts of fasting and praying. I imagined what vacation mode does to the mind and emotions, and tried to apply that even though my life continued as normal: work, cooking, household chores, church, relationships, etc. I’ve even taken a break from writing. I imagine myself as being on vacation from worry, stress, anxiety, and have tried to live as if I really do believe that God’s got this, and by ‘this’, I mean, His plans for our future.
Every morning I tell myself, ‘Today is a rest day. Do what you have to do, get that to-do list knocked off, but make sure that above all, you rest.’ My reward comes as my head clears. It seems to have the same effect on the body and mind as when you’re fasting: things aren’t as congested, and there is a mental and emotional clarity that wasn’t there before. You see the things you need to correct in your life, the paths you need to make straight. You get marching orders with specific confirmation. Your spiritual eyes and ears are open and receptive, and your spirit gets poured into in ways you would have once brushed off as silly or foolish.
There are seasons for everything under the sun; those include a time to fast and pray, and a time to rest. Maybe resting takes more faith because when you rest, the work is all God’s. Rest may feel selfish, because it means putting your need before others; but, rest is necessary.
If you think He is calling you into that time when you are to rest even though life continues as normal, be obedient: take the rest, listen for His voice, watch for His guidance. A time may come in the future when you will look back on this rest period and know that it played a powerful role in the life-changing decisions you made.
He knows what He is doing. Take the rest He offers.
For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Is 30:15).
Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31 NLT).
‘Be still and know that I am God. (Ps 46:10).
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