“Make sure you get some rest!”
“All you need is a good nights sleep!”
For a bunch of people who talk the talk about rest, it’s surprising to find that we don’t understand what rest is, let alone how to accomplish it!
All you have to do is Google rest to find that we live in a world that is ‘rest deprived’. We understand the reality of being ‘sleep deprived’, but the problem goes further. We are all in deep and dire need of REST.
When I talk about rest, what’s the first thing that springs to mind? Is it taking a much-needed nap in the afternoon? Is it finally taking that much longed for holiday? Is it the opportunity to spend some time in nature? The truth is, particularly in the west, we have been our own worse enemies in understanding and practising REST.
We train our kids to believe that they need to have purpose and be productive to be successful and contributing members of society. These sound like the correct concepts to be drilling into our prospective world leaders, right? The problem is that we don’t really mean purpose or productive. What? Of course we do. I would like to propose that what we truly mean is busy. Think about the last time you asked someone how their week was. “Busy!” is the catch cry of many, myself included. We so often wear our busy-ness like a badge of honour, as evidence of meaning and purpose. What I’ve noticed though, if any of us stop long enough to have a conversation, is that the next thing out of our mouths is “exhausted”. Something isn’t right. Something is not working in this equation.
I don't say this to shame anyone, but to acknowledge that with all our advances, with all of our ingenuity and with all of our understanding into the effects of stress on our bodies and minds, we still find rest to be elusive.
I believe that one of the fundamental issues we are facing when it comes to rest is that our identity is so tied up in what we do that being able to be and rest are foreign concepts.
So, what happens when we fail to take the time to build into our kids and ourselves an identity that is separate from accomplishment and activity? We create generations that are forever searching for the pursuit that will tell them who they are and validate them as ones worthy of love. It also ensures that rest never enters the equation. We reduce rest to just another activity. Rest becomes vaguely uncomfortable as a concept. It loses its restorative design and becomes a self-indulgent, almost selfish exercise.
Our own bodies tell us that we were designed to live from rest. How do we know this? Think about how productive you are when rested compared to when you are stressed. The research is done, and the results are in, we function best when we are coming from rest.
How can we get the best rest? Before we can start to embrace rest as a practice or even as a concept, we need to go back to our identity.
Rest in it’s purest sense becomes possible when we have an understanding of who we are and of our belonging as human beings. For those of us who have a relationship with Jesus, it is as much about whose we are as it is who we are. When you know the one who created you, breathed uniqueness into the fabric of your being, and invites you to rest in the intimacy of that connection, resting in Him is a place of restoration, love, peace and joy.
In this place of intimacy, we discover activities that build connection, that are productive in the best sense of the word, that come from who we are rather than for approval and acceptance. Rest is as much a journey of the heart as it is a stilling of the body and mind.
We have a God who knows how to rest. Our Father created the idea of rest and took advantage of it Himself. If the God of the universe feels the need to rest and we are fashioned in His image, why would we think that we could function properly without it?
Genesis 2:2-4 The Message Translation
By the seventh day
God had finished his work.
On the seventh day he rested from all his work.
God blessed the seventh day.
He made it a Holy Day
Because on that day he rested from his work,
all the creating God had done.
King David, the warrior God described as a man after His own heart understood his identity in God and how to rest and be refreshed, regardless of circumstance.
Psalm 23 The Message Translation
“God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
You find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath
And send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.”
David discovered key to the deep, satisfying and restorative rest found in God, regardless of circumstance and situation. He allowed the creator of rest, the one who rested on the seventh day to be his rest. David understood that God could lead him into rest in a way that he was incapable of on his own. When we go to the source of rest, we will learn what it really means to live from rest.
So, how do you get the best rest?
Go to the source of rest. Let Him tell you who you are. Let Him lead you beside quiet water. Let Him fill your heart with purpose. Dream with Him. Develop intimacy with God, and He will bring you rest.
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