I love the idea of rest.
But what is it? Is it tuning out in front of the TV? Is it a massage? Is it prayer? Is it being with people? Is it being alone? There are a lot of conflicting ideas out there.
I define rest as experiences or actions which cause us to feel renewed and revived; they allow us to return to our life better than when we started.
As I think about this idea, I can see myself wrapped up in a good book, under a warm blanket, feeling that sense of peace as the day stretches out long. Or I see myself at the park with my daughter, totally present and engaged with her as she plays. Or I see myself on a walk talking to God, letting my thoughts and heart flow freely. These pictures are restful for me.
But here’s the truth; rest doesn’t come easy, not for most of us.
And, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. We live in a culture of “never enough” and scarcity. Not only that, but I think that our human nature leans toward striving. It is counterculture and counter intuitive to believe that we CAN rest.
Because what would happen if we weren't there to fix something?
What would happen if we weren’t earning our value?
What would happen if we said 'no' to something, even good things?
We may have to sit with the idea that we are not God. We do not have the ability to control or fix most things. We do not have unlimited energy or resources. We are finite.
And on this earth, I believe God allowed it to be that way. Our need for rest points to our humanity and that’s okay. It's in this space that we can actually connect with God, ourselves and ultimately others in the most effective way. We are able to connect because it creates space to see our need; our need for God, our need for rest, and our need for others. It's only when we see a hollowed out space, and are humble enough to acknowledge it's reality, that we can do anything with it. Until then, we are blissfully (or not so blissfully, depending on your perspective), unaware.
Choosing to rest is an act of faith and of honor. It is not an accident that God created us this way. His creation and implementation of the Sabbath is and was something that He purposed for us. Genesis 2 speaks to God's own rest. Not because He needed it, but it appears mainly to model for us the necessity of it. And even when Jesus came to this earth and walked with us as a man, he modeled rest in His actions of creating space in his daily life and on the weekly Sabbath.
So yeah, rest is a big deal.
One of my favorite quotes about our struggle with rest and control is from Victor Hugo. I love how he put's it here:
"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake."
So breathe. It is not all up to you. You can rest.