Let’s face it; life is busy. Regardless of who you are or what you do, I’m sure you would agree that your life feels busy.
I just spent two weeks in a polychronic time oriented country. Basically, people show up when they can and don’t worry about being late to an event if they are still in a meeting or working on a project.
For me, as a monochronic, minute-to-minute planning American, this culture was very different. Church would start thirty minutes late; we’d leave for the day two hours later than we had planned, and our schedule occasionally changed at random times.
While it took a while to get used to the difference, I realized that the unexpected breaks gave me the opportunity to do something I haven’t made much time do to this summer: rest.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life to not slow down, rest, and reflect. The past two weeks have been busy with visiting many ministries, leading an English camp, observing, learning, and serving in local church ministry. But amidst it, through the prodding of a book I’m reading that addressed the importance of rest, I made it a goal to take the time off to be intentional and rest.
By rest, I do not mean sleeping every chance I got—even though some days that was the form of rest I needed!
Rest can be done in many different ways. In T.J. Addington’s book Live Like You Mean It, Addington presents the Biblical case for rest. He uses the phrase “running on fumes” to describe most Americans today. I know this has described me at times and I’m sure you can relate, too.
When we run on fumes we are not as effective and live on the edge of burnout. We all would agree that this is not good, but how do we balance rest with the busyness of life?
Addington equates rest with refreshment. He maps out three key things to aim for with rest: finding places of refreshment, doing activities of refreshment, and surrounding ourselves with people of refreshment (Addington 102-105).
These three keys to rest made me think about my places, activities, and people of refreshment. I identified my places as outdoors, cities, and coffee shops. My intentional activities include reading, journaling [and blogging 🙂 ], exploring, playing basketball, and longboarding.
Some of the activities God has given me to enjoy and be refreshed doing. 🙂
Lastly, I was able to make note of people in my life that refresh me. Some people always seem to be on the run and their constant attitude of go can make their friends stressed or anxious around them. But some people, generally with an intentionally balanced schedule, are refreshing and restful to be around. I had to ask myself which person I was and confess that quite often I’m a fumes-running person.
So, this past week I’ve been trying to slow down, reflect, and rest in God. God has shown me many things in my rest and reflection. I’ve enjoyed taking time to read, journal, and think back on lessons I’ve learned this summer in Asia. It’s amazing how even just a short time of rest can be such a refreshment.
We can make excuses that we don’t have time to rest, but at the end of the day, we make time for the things that we care most about. For some that is their family, their job, maintaining their social image, or a host of other alternatives. While all of these can be good, it is vital that we purposefully take time to refresh in the chaos of life.
God rested on the seventh day not because He was tired, but to model for us the importance for humans to rest. We all are busy; rest enables us to refresh, recharge, and do better than we would have had we carried on without it.
In the Old Testament, God instituted the Sabbath for the Israelites to rest on the first day of each week (Exodus 20:8). This had a two-fold reasoning: to refresh for a new week and to reflect on the goodness of God.
We too should seek time, weekly if possible, to rest and reflect. In 1 Kings, the author tells of Elijah’s encounter with God in a cave on a mountain. The story comes from chapter 19:11-13. In it, Elijah was told that God would speak to him. Immediately after a great wind tore through the mountain. This was followed by an earthquake then a fire. But God was not in any of these. Then after this there came a still, small voice. Elijah heard it, recognized it as the Lord’s voice, and listened.
In the context of this story, it would make sense for Elijah to do anything but stop, rest, and listen to God. He had just confronted King Ahab of his apostasy and idolatry and was now running from Ahab who was seeking his life. It would have been very easy to not take time to rest and listen to God’s voice, but Elijah had his priorities right.
What would have happened if Elijah didn’t slow down to listen? He would have missed out on the message God had for him to rescue him and save a remnant of Israel that remained faithful to the Lord.
Thinking about this made me ask myself, what lessons and thoughts from God have I missed by not resting and listening? Are there times that I drown out the still small voice of God with the busyness of my schedule? Sadly, I know the answer is yes.
Even Jesus took time to rest. Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus often withdrew to desolate places for prayer.” If the God of the universe, depicted in the person of Jesus took time to rest on earth in the middle of His crazy busy life, and if He is truly our model for life, then I think it would be wise for us to follow in His footsteps.
It is important for us to make time each week for rest, reflection, and renewal, but the ultimate form of rest is spending time alone with God. We have the opportunity through prayer and studying the Bible to commune with the Creator of the universe and designer or rest anytime in anyplace!
God has challenged me to examine my schedule to make time for rest. It might seem trivial but it truly is vital to sustaining a balanced life. Choosing to rest will generally come at a cost of something else in our schedules; but realizing that it is something God instituted for us should make it a worthwhile sacrifice.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus is the ultimate rest; He welcomes us with our chaos, heartache, and messiness and still desires to call us His child. Take a break today and take time to rest in His love, reflect on His goodness, and recall the truths of His Word today.