Sometimes, life can feel as though you live in an extremely loud vortex. A realm blended with countless unknowns and a whole lot of crazy. Between your work, your family and all the in-betweens, that thing can be hard to find.
And I’m not good at that thing called rest.
And you’re probably right there with me.
In University, us students were taught to rest. I often sat with professors wanting to learn how to do that. How does one rest when the to-do list just keeps getting longer or when expectations never seem to be met. And as you might ask, how does one do that when the laundry is piled sky-high or when the kids you just bathed got into the flour and now look like frosty?
Easy answer? Just say ‘no.’ I know, what kind of answer is that?
Particularly in the field of ministry, this rest thing is complicated. As Pastors, we fight with that more than most things because nothing ever seems to be done. And to be honest, since being hired as a Pastor I’ve had more conversations with God about finding rest than I think I’ve talked to Him about anything else.
My problem isn’t that I have a family to keep me busy when I’m not working at the church, my problem is that when I go home, I don’t have anyone telling me to stop and so I don’t. Because if I stop, I’m afraid I won’t meet the deadlines. Or if I do, I’m worried that what I bring to the table will fall flat. Now I don’t write that for people to feel sorry for me or as a subtle way to ask for help. I write that because truthfully, I’m a terrible rester (which, I’m not sure is even a word).
And that’s no one else’s fault but my own.
However, we are commanded and taught to rest.
“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” [Mark 6:30-32]
Jesus. Now there is a guy who understood the importance of stewarding your time and making room for rest.
Yesterday I blew the whole rest thing. So today, my goal was to blow off the whole work thing. And for the most part, I did, but sometimes things are inevitable. Sometimes you have tasks to do on Fridays at six and on Saturdays at two. Important, rest isn’t about being neglectful, it’s about being wise and making space to refuel.
So when given the opportunity, I jumped in the jeep. Bought a coffee. Plugged in my favorite music. Opened my rooftop window. And just drove. I didn’t have a destination. I didn’t need one. But eventually, I sat on a park bench in the quiet, hearing nothing but rushing water, chirping birds, blowing winds and then Jesus. And when you say no to everything else and say yes to Jesus, you find the greatest of resting places, because His presence IS rest. And when you rest, you refuel.
Relax. Refresh. Recover. Reconvene. Repeat.
So to those of you who too often find yourself afraid to rest, just say no. Every once in a while say no to the laundry and to the kid who rolled in the flour. And say yes to the one who tells you to rest.
I’m slowly learning rest is a choice and that it’s okay to say, “No, I just can’t do that right now. But after I get a bit of rest, I can rock that out in no time.” And nine times out of ten, what I produce after rest is a thousand times better than anything I’ve produced without rest.