I don’t know about you, but when I am practicing nearly anything I tend to need to have reminders to be sure I am making the most of my practice. My personal trainer catches me when I am practicing an exercise in a way that will miss what I want to achieve or might also cause injury for me. I love that as well as the relationship we have and the chatting that sometimes even lets me forget she just asked me to do something I think is impossible.
Before I submit a post like this I reread it many times looking for things that might need editing or tweaking in some way. Nonetheless, I can miss something small that makes me cringe when I see it on the site. So, my dear husband reads each one to see how it hits him and if I have something to fix.
There are lots of places for me to practice the rest I have been talking about in the last two posts and things for me to keep in mind to insure my practices gradually become increasingly effective.
One of the first things I need to practice to increase the quality and quantity of rest is to deal with my preoccupations and distractions about the necessities of life. I need to adjust the rhythm of my daily schedule in order to create a climate that allows space for my own awareness of God.
I am working on this one first because it is the hardest for me. One tool I use with this is Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 10:5:
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (ESV)
I have received the gift of rest in Him, but my part is to practice using the gift and to preserve and shelter it from all that would seek to erode all the ways it guards my heart, mind, and spirit from rabbit trails, temptations, and pursuits that are not for my good or His glory.
Please note when I talk about practicing rest, I am not talking about failing to do what is required, right, or good. That would be sloth, an old-fashioned word that refers to a dullness of the spirit. This rest I speak of is not about kicking back and lazing around having no interest or care in or for anything.
A second thing I practice in rest is leaning more fully into trusting the Lord. That means when I let go of things that distract me or preoccupy me and get me stuck in ruminating, I remember God is fully for me. As His child, I trust Him for those things I keep trying to resolve on my own or things that tempt me to involvements and commitments that did not originate with Him.
The third area I seek to keep in check is ambition. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in self-validation by trying to be more, do more, or get more. (Self-validation is something all of us use to one degree or another at times to refute that nagging sense we are not competent or worthy.) Ambition and rest are incompatible.
In The Radical Pursuit of Rest, John Koessler reminds me:
“If the primary aim of our ambition is to be noticed, we ought to recall that we live within sight of the one who sees the sparrow fall to the ground.”
In Him, in His rest, we can be assured our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life and what could we ever attain by ambition that compares with that?
Practicing His rest allows the passion He has placed within me to be continually renewed by His Spirit to accomplish what He has called me to be and do. Remembering that gives me quality practice in rest.
One of the places that are especially good for practicing rest is in worship. Worship ushers me into His presence creating an oasis where I can meditate on Him, listen for and to Him. In worship, I can contemplate on who He is and enter into Him in ways few other experiences offer.
Eugene Peterson explains, “Worship is an act of attention to the living God who rules, speaks, and reveals, creates and redeems, orders and blesses.”
John Koessler says, “Worship is not a feast we lay out for God. It is a table on which God spreads his feast for us.”
Pursuing and practicing rest is in truth pursuing the Lord.
In the noisy world we all live in, that includes utilizing the spiritual disciplines of solitude and silence Dallas Willard writes about.
As I increasingly recognize this gift of rest is also not only for my growth and nurture, but also to prepare me for whatever lays ahead I identify with Paul’s words to the Philippians:
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus Christ has made me his own.” Phil. 3:12