Welcome back (or welcome, if this is your first time)!
Monday I shared how I felt that sometimes taking a break from things under the rouse of needing rest can be dangerous. Especially if the things you have decided to take a break from are things that God didn’t intend for you to step away from.
I think another problem is that maybe we misunderstand what true rest is.
I want to spend some time today defining (or redefining) rest. Webster’s primary definition for rest: “the physical body in a state of minimal function or activity.” This is what most people think about when they think about rest. Webster’s fourth definition: “peace of mind or spirit.” This is the definition of rest that most people are actually seeking through trying to exercise the first definition.
If you’ve ever been in Sunday school or attended a child’s VBS, you have heard of Martha and Mary. It’s an account in the book of Luke of two sisters who are hosting a Bible study at their house and Jesus is the teacher. Once Jesus begins teaching, Mary sits down on the floor next to Jesus and leaves Martha in the kitchen doing all the work. Martha is hurt and angry and bitter, and we know this because she complains to Jesus and wants him to reprimand Mary. Jesus tells Martha that she’s busy doing many things, but Mary made a better choice and what she has chosen will not be taken from her. (See Luke 10:38-42).
I can’t tell you how many people have used this passage as a reason to stop working so hard. What about the verse where it says work while it’s still day because the night is coming when no man can work? Jesus wasn’t telling Martha to stop working. He was saying that you can’t spend all of your time working and neglect spending time with Jesus.
Being lazy and doing nothing to further the kingdom will absolutely bring no rest or peace to your soul. I don’t know about you, but the more I sleep, the more I want to sleep. There is a time to take a break and a time to work. The only way to know when to do more of one and less of the other is to have a relationship with God. You have to hear His voice and know what He is saying to you.
I can promise you that He is saying to me at this very moment, “Take a break, come to me, let me give you rest.” I have been running so hard and I have heard Him morning after morning say, “You’re running from Me.” I believe hectic running and spending no time with Jesus is an attempt to outrun His voice. For me it is usually out of fear.
When I ever slip out of scheduled and faithful time with Him, I am usually afraid that He is going to reprimand me for not meeting with Him and I proceed to run harder. The crazy thing is He never does. He just wants to spend time with me. He loves me so much and I don’t know why I run from Him sometimes.
And I don’t know why I feel guilty when I slow down and take time for myself. I rarely vacation. I hardly ever take a true day off. I know that God set the example for this. In Genesis, at the very beginning, God created our world, our galaxy, our universe. He did this in six days. On the seventh day, He rested. (See Genesis 1-2:4).
By rested, I believe it means he took the time to appreciate what He had made and reflect on His perfection and glory.
So how would we rest? We would take time to reflect on His glory, His creation, His Goodness. As we reflect, we would have no choice but to praise Him. Rest includes praise and worship. It should also include a time of confession. We should confess our failures and shortcomings. We should also confess our hurts and grievances.
How do I know that?
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest.”
Well, who did He say should come to him?
Those who were striving and troubled. The rest He was offering was for their soul. He says so at the end of the very next verse.
How do we find rest for our souls? He goes right on to explain it to us in the very next chapter. He tells us what the purpose of the Sabbath (our church day) is for. It is for us. It was designed for us. It was designed so that we could refuel our souls. We strive all week long and carry our heavy burdens of hurt and grief and addictions and the last thing we need to do is skip church on Sunday. We need fellowship. We need worship. Then we need to leave church and spend the rest of the day doing what we enjoy. Now before I get a lot of feedback, it doesn’t have to be Sunday. It can be any day. But it definitely needs to include corporate worship and fellowship whenever possible.
And that isn’t all we need to do. We need to sit at His feet daily. We have to cry out to Him. We have to let Him nourish our longing hearts and hurting souls.
In order to do that, you have to fit Him into your schedule. I went to a conference this past weekend and the key note speaker was Kim Jones. Kim implored every participant to take out their planners and schedule a time to meet with God.
Remember when I told you on Monday that I was the least qualified to write this post?
This is my calendar from a few months back. (It seemed a little creepy to share my current calendar of appointments).
Now granted, this isn’t all work on my calendar. I have a beach trip on there and a few lunches with friends. But there is little room to actually schedule God time. The main theme of all of my meetings right now (whether it be my boss, my accountability partner, or my mentor) is how to take some things off my plate.
We have a rule for our staff that you have to work forty hours each week and serve for five. So we all work a minimum of 45 hours per week. We do that because we want to set the example of serving. We can honestly say that we know what it’s like to work a full week and still volunteer every single week at church. And we love it.
The problem is I hardly ever work 45 hours. Sometimes it’s 50 or 60 hours. Over the last two months I logged more than 80 hours for three of the eight weeks. I didn’t even realize it had gotten so bad until I sat down to add up the hours on my timesheets so I could turn them in to my boss.
I was mortified. It’s no wonder I wasn’t spending enough time with my Savior. Or with my family. Or with myself!!
I am taking a vow today! I am going to turn to Jesus for rest for my soul. I am going to pull out my handy dandy phone planner and block off time every day for the next week to spend with God in prayer, worship, praise, and Bible study. At the end of that time, I promise to spend some time with my mouth shut and my mind quiet so that I might give Him a chance to speak to me.
I want to do His will. I want to work hard for Him. But it’s useless to work 80 hours a week without any direction from Him.
Will you do this with me? Will you take this challenge? Will you take out your planner right now and schedule that meeting? Doesn’t He deserve one little block on your calendar? Surely we can fit him in between our record number of wardrobe changes and that morning trip to Starbucks. He’s worth it and it’s all for your benefit.
Let me pray for us:
Father, thank you for being a perfectly patient gentleman. Thank you for pursuing us and for not giving up on us. I ask you to speak to our hearts today in that small voice that says, “peace, be still”. Show us how to schedule a block of time that you will guard for us. Show up in that time and meet with us. Let us find you there waiting to speak rest to our souls, to shower us with your love. Like any good father, you long to spend quality time with us and I pray that we give that to you. You are worthy!
In Jesus name I pray.