Nearly everyone I talk with these days mentions something about being tired, not sleeping well, or not getting enough rest. It doesn’t seem to be limited to those in college, those with newborns, those in the midst of menopause, or those in retirement years. I rarely open a magazine without some mention of an aspect of this issue or a proposed solution.
Last night was a good night because I think I slept fairly well. How do I know? My fitness tracker told me. It also told me that I was awake twice and how many hours and minutes were light sleep versus sound sleep. (Yes, I use one of those…for multiple reasons.)
If I start looking at options and solutions for times when I cannot sleep well or get rest, I see a lot of excellent recommendations. They are all largely good and work with varying degrees of success (if not consistently), but tracking and making a list of all the tips and ideas becomes stressful in and of itself. I can get so committed to the list that I take over instead of trusting God.
It seems that each of us is on this elusive quest for rest.
One of the evidences is how much we look forward to the weekends or the next vacation. We try to hang on until then. I’ve been there too!
I can recall one vacation in particular when we were headed for one of our favorite places in Alberta, Canada. The first night we were there I slept for eleven hours because I was so exhausted. I think the second night was not nearly as long, but more than eight hours.
It can be far too easy to arrive at a weekend or vacation and need to sleep or rest in order to be able to enjoy the time away from the routine working demands of most weeks. We also discover that too often sleep doesn’t really refresh us when we get it.
I think I have too often missed it.
I have been looking for things outside of me to provide the deep rest that I need inside of me.
Whatever stage or season we are in, each of us has our list of things that “must” be done, those that “need to be done”, those that “ought to be done” and finally those we “hope to get around to”.
Sadly, we bring a great deal of that into our spiritual lives and church community as well.
We miss it! We can get so involved in “God projects” that we fail to notice God right in front of us or experience Him in ways that point us to true rest.
Somehow in all areas of our lives we have started to assume that busier is better, especially if we are busy for Him. We have gotten the idea that the busier we are for Him, the more devoted we are (or at least appear to be). We seem to equate loving Him with doing more and more for Him. It matters not how much we have done in the past, we feel like we need to do more and we often get that subtle or not so subtle message when we arrive at church as well.
Our elusive quest for rest takes us into the twin quest for balance in our life.
What changes over time in our lives?
Childhood seems to provide the best sleep and rest of any season of life even if it is resisted at certain points.
I can certainly think of a lot of things that are different about childhood versus adulthood that affects the quality and quantity of sleep and rest, but if I examine this closely I see that many times (perhaps much of the time) in adulthood I take over instead of trusting God.
I know that sounds bad. I am not suggesting I don’t trust Him in the broad scheme of things, but do I come into each day and crawl into bed each night trusting as a child does that I will be taken care of, leaving everything in His hands, turning off the thoughts running over in my mind?
I think we have a much harder time with that despite Jesus’ words that we are to come to Him as a child. That certainly involves faith, but trust is a major part of it.
It’s interesting that over and over again Christ invites us to rest, lay aside our weariness, and simply rest. He also says that we “find” rest.
Where are we looking?
I have been reading a book about rest that has challenged my thinking and perception about rest, where I find it, and how I live in it.
The author writes these words challenging me to adjust my perspective:
“Rest is not an inner state that can be produced by thinking a certain way or placing ourselves in the right conditions. It is obtained only by entering into a relationship. When we find Christ, we find rest.” From The Radical Pursuit of Rest by John Koessler