Rest. A rarity for most of us—a concept that is at once desirable and impossible. Today’s fast-paced, constantly connected, productivity-centered world makes rest infrequent yet all the more important. It is when we are at rest that we recuperate, reflect, heal, grow, and invest in what matters most.
Our culture associates the summer with rest—a time for vacations; long weekends; and time spent idly sitting by a pool, beach, or other place that provides us rest. For those of us who will not take a vacation this summer (myself included), rest looks a bit different. For those who do go away for a time of rest, rest cannot and must not be exiled to a specific time and place.
The plight of the psalmist in Psalm 55 is more dire than that of a father or mother hurriedly moving from one appointment, meeting, class, group, function, or chore to the next. But his wish for rest is one that echoes the spiritual importance of taking time for stillness in our frazzled days. The Psalmist asks for rest knowing of the relief it provides from our cares and worries, but the spiritual significance is of greater importance. God commands that we rest and by moving into a period of stillness in order to better hear Him, to better seek Him, and to better obey Him. Even God, the Most High, rested on the seventh day, to rest and reflect on what He had done (Genesis 2:2–3). Throughout Exodus, we are reminded of the importance of keeping the sabbath; we are reminded that God wants His people to experience rest and refreshment (Exodus 31:16–17). The Sabbath is a reminder of God’s promises, His grace, and His sacrifice; God commands us to be still, to reflect, and replenish our wells run dry.
So, what does rest look like in our day to day? How can we use this summertime as a culturally significant reminder to rest? It involves both finding and making—finding more moments to pray, stilling your mind and heart for a few seconds to reach for God. It means making more time for the important things, the soul things, the heart things, the time-with-God things, and the family things. The time spent fully engaged with the Word; the hours spent fully present with your children; the time set aside, and fiercely protected, for connection with your spouse. It means filling up our tanks that run dry during busyness and activity.
Some of us are more literal, “left-brained” types who will live this out by scheduling time for Bible study, blocking off an hour here and there for engaged time with our children, or finding a babysitter for a specific outing with our spouse. Others of us are more whimsical, the “right-brained” types who will find ourselves deeply moved during a spontaneous soccer game in the backyard as the sun goes down, who will spend time lettering a verse, or who will treasure an impromptu dance with our husband or wife while the dishes remain unwashed in the sink. Whichever approach works for you, FIND time to rest, but also MAKE time to rest.
When we find the time, we are announcing to ourselves and the world that we did it, we found a way to fit what matters into our days. There is value there. But when we make time to rest, we are proving to ourselves and the world that we have prioritized our time in a way that gives glory to God and His commands.
So, in whatever ways you rest this summer and wherever you are resting, be it the beach or at the quiet kitchen table before the children wake up, remember that rest is so important to God that He commands us to do so. Use it to invest in what matters, to prioritize the things that do not add money to the account or lines to the resume, but that move us a step closer to eternal rest.
Your friend and servant,