Learning to Rest

Last week I returned from my family vacation. We went to NYC for a week and had a ball. We went to Broadway shows, yelled at a Yankees game, toured the Statue of Liberty, went on a bike ride through Central Park, rode the NYC Metro Subway 37 times, and ate more pizza than I want to confess too. We did a lot. More than we probably should have on a vacation. In fact, I returned tired and in need of a nap. So did my wife and kids. Only my dog enjoyed the eight days of rest away from the noise and busyness of our family. 🙂

Sadly that has become the routine. I plan for time away, save money, buy tickets, reserve rooms, depart, and run a race every day that I am gone until I am too tired to go on. Then I crash only to gather enough energy to do those last few things still on my vacation bucket list. Then I begin planning for next year’s trip and counting the days until I can tax my body again on a planned get away. And then I do it all over again. I can only hope there is a way out of this routine, but I wonder…

Where will the rest and relaxation ever come from?

When will I refuel from a year of work and stress?

Who will show me how to get this right before I give up and never vacation again?

Will I ever find rest, relaxation, renewal from a work and everyday life? That is what I want to know and I bet it is what you want to know too. What I am most interested in finding is that real rest that makes my breathing feel cleaner and my mind feel slower. Real rest that lasts longer than the paid time off I have been granted or even the weekend that comes around every 5 days or so. Real rest that helps me view the world in a different light. I need real rest that gives me the freedom to appreciate the little things and place them rightfully as the big things in my life. Where can I find real rest that allows me to breathe deeply, look longingly, and trust deeply in the faith, friends, and family that surround me with love and support? Real rest that lets me see the world in the way that God hoped I would see it and embrace for His glory.

Rest is a nonnegotiable. Without rest we are not ready or able to face the challenges in front of us or find the peace our heart is looking for. We need to be rested to be faithful (as in loving, kind, patient, generous, compassionate, etc…) in our relationships. We need to be rested to experience wholeness through Christ and be all that God longs for us to be.  We need rest in our life so that we do not live wilted and withered at the intensity of life. We need the renewing power of relaxing and reviving our bodies, minds and spirit for fuller life.  Life without rest is like a plant without water, like an ocean without a moon, like a child without love.

sleeping pic

To be honest I don’t believe that real rest comes from being away. It is not guaranteed through a change of routine or scenery. I will never find that real rest in a rest room, a restaurant, a rest area, or a rest home for that matter. Who, when and where are the questions I am asking myself when perhaps I should be asking the “how” question. 

How can I/we find the real rest that I/we need for happy, whole living and loving of others?

Make resting a regular practice –   Find ways to do nothing and feel good about it. That will mean that we focus when we are “at work” so we can we focus on being “not at work” and resting. Take deep breathes. Listen to good music. Put down the phone for an hour or two. Sit in a favorite chair. Go for a long, slow walk before dark. Rest.

Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.  (Charles Spurgeon)

Start our resting with an inward look – Address those things in our hearts and minds that are troubling. Don’t suppress them. Face up to them and confess them. Ask for help and pray that God will deliver us from that weight. Ask for forgiveness from someone and offer it to others too. Journal about the things that trouble us and the things that bring us great delight. Rest.

Give our rest as an act of worship – Make one day a holy day, a day of spiritual rest and worship. Go to church. Eat a meal with family. Don’t do the work that will wait till the next day or that we forgot to do the day before. Be intentionally available for God to speak into our spirit and soul. Be refreshed. Rest.

Live our life in the rest that God gives – God wants us to rest. He built it into His creation for us. He has spoken it into us (Exodus 33:14, Psalm 29:11, Matthew 6:31-32, 11:29, etc.) We just have to believe that resting is ok, good for us, necessary, and acceptable by God. We also have to recognize that we will never create the perfect rest for ourselves. God will have to give it to us. And He will. Rest in that offering from Him. Rest in Him.

God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. (Augustine)





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