Made to Rest
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Heb. 4:9-11)
Rest seems anathema to our culture. I mean, we literally seem incapable of rest. Think about it, I'm know very few people who don't seemed stressed and potentially overwhelmed by their jobs, taking care of their children, their volunteer commitments, and looking after their houses and all of the little chores that seem to endlessly pile up. We seem desperate to get to vacation, take at least a week to finally calm down enough to get some rest, but then when vacation is done we get back to the same hectic schedules. In fact, usually it's even more hectic because we're trying to make up for the time we took on our vacation!
I struggle with rest as well. There always seems like something more that needs to be doing, something important that I'm neglecting. I can't rest or I'll fall behind in all of these things. I feel like my significance is tied up in the things that I do and accomplish. Why would I take a few hours off, let alone a whole day, in order to fall that farther behind on accomplishing those important items?
While that may seem perfectly logical to me, I'm learning that it couldn't be farther from the truth. You see, we were made for rest. When God created the universe, He rested on the seventh day. Did He need the rest? Was He tired and spent from all that creating? No! He rested as an example for us. We need to rest! We were created with the need to rest.
I've been reading up some research on this and finding that people are significantly more productive when they have adequate rest, people have significantly higher levels of creativity when they have adequate rest, and they are physically and emotionally healthier with adequate rest. We're not talking a small difference here, either. There is a dramatic improvement in our ability to do anything well when we've had rest.
Yet we still struggle to take it.
Rest has to be a conscious choice or it never happens. If I just hope that rest will come into my schedule, guess what? It will never come. I have to choose to set the time aside, to make room for rest, and I have to jealously guard it or I end up filling it with more work.
I've been pondering this over with God as I've struggled to implement regular rest into my life and I've had to own up to the fact that I have some emotional baggage that increases my anxiety and hampers rest. I feel guilty whenever I rest. I feel like I "should" be doing something more productive. I guess I was brought up that way. It helps me to have a good work ethic, but it's become a hindrance because I feel driven all of the time, which is exhausting. It also makes me want to drive my wife, my family, my church, and myself to do more all of the time, which is unhealthy as well. Driven people generally aren't at peace. They feel anxiety whenever something doesn't go right or there's another problem to fix. When I drive myself and everyone around me, all I do is succeed in increasing everyone's anxiety.
When I finally let myself go and came to the conclusion that, no matter how I felt about rest, God probably has a better understanding about it than I do, I came to a place of peace. That was when I started to try and regularly implement a full day off each week. I mean, that's what God set up for us in the first place and if He knows better than I do… I'm not trying to be religious about it, that's just another pitfall on the other side of where I'm at. I'm also trying to give myself a lot of grace when I mess up or don't succeed in having a full day of rest. But when I do get it, there's so much peace and health in it that it has revolutionized my life. Go figure, when I start functioning like how God intended I start to reap blessings in my life. It's almost like God knows what He's talking about…
If you're too busy and struggle with taking rest, I recommend you start wrestling with these issues on your own and give taking a full day a week off a go. You might be shocked at the positive things that start happening for you. If you still struggle with this topic, you're not alone. Talk about it with other wise people who care about you and your health. If you need someone to talk to, I'd be happy to help. You can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org