Rest has had a bone to pick with me this last few weeks and I have found it anything but restful! We’ve had a troubled relationship rest and I. My love of productivity, reaching goals and working for a cause that captivates my whole heart completely gets in the way of that relationship. Rest doesn’t usually intrude, but lets me carry on – and for the most part I’ve appreciated that. It’s not that I haven’t longed for rest, or needed rest, or even been jealous of other people’s rest; I’d just concluded that it would forever elude me as a meaningful relationship and tried to go on without it… soldier on! That was until what felt like all of heaven got involved.
Everything was ganging up on me; I was physically tired, my Bible App started suggesting reading plans on rest like it was the only topic available, my social media feeds were filled with quotes on rest, my friends started talking about rest and to top it all off I got asked to prepare a two-part message on rest. It was war and I was ambushed!
It was the first day of school holidays and as I packed my lunch into my work bag, I glanced around to do farewells and realised that not one, but all four of my children were still pyjama clad. One had just joined the land of the awake and one still slumbered on… As I reminded myself it was their holidays and they deserved rest, I couldn’t help feel a little confronted. I kissed the awake and as I went in search of the kiss of handover with my husband, he too was in a dressing gown. My world was conspiring against me and even those I loved the most had switched into a rest mode I was struggling to even recall. Rest was presenting itself in ways that were invading all my senses and demanding my attention.
That very day in the midst of a growing sense of failure in regard to rest, I looked around the silent and vacant offices of colleagues ALL on vacations, ALL enjoying rest and an annoying thought dropped in. That thought suggested that those that enjoyed a good relationship with rest must’ve planned, scheduled and held space for rest and dare I say, made an effort in that relationship? Even prioritised it. The worst part about that thought was not that rest involved some effort on my part, but that rest alluded me and it was all my fault. Ouch!
Thoughts like these are pesky and awesome all rolled in together. Pesky because it removes the ability to indulge in self-pity and lands you squarely as the reason you don’t have what you want. Awesome because that pesky realisation challenges your mindsets and rips out your excuses like weeds from damp soil!
No one can have a relationship with rest on my behalf, for my benefit. Outsiders can see my relationship is in trouble, but they can’t even fix it for me or bring healing to it. They can’t stop me from giving time and resource to everything else even to the neglect of rest, or from choosing to add jobs into every nook and cranny of time instead of enjoying rest. My rest is my choice. My lack is also my choice. Could it be that laziness disguised as busyness had broken this relationship?
Rest is very much a two-way relationship. Rest requires of us. It has standards. To take time to rest requires pre-thought and work in preparation. We need to stop being lazy and letting errands and to-dos overrun pockets of rest. Letting scrolling newsfeeds, emails, messages and Netflix prevent our conscious presence in our moments. Our rest is our responsibility. Maybe you, like me, need to re-learn how to rest as a rhythm of life. Our hearts beat in rhythm, we breathe to a rhythm, we are made to be rhythmical and so rest needs to also become a regular, established and reliable rhythm. A relationship that we enjoy, that we prioritise.
For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience. (Heb 4:10-11)
I just can’t avoid it any longer. It’s time to make an effort to renew my relationship with rest. Will you take the challenge with me to lay down the mantra and martyrdom of busyness and pick up the responsibility of rhythmical rest?