Today’s hurried culture and frenetic pace seems to have reached impossible levels for many of us no matter what season or age we may be. The “simpler life” of the generations before us may have been “simpler” because the days were governed by work hours and all the wonderful media devices were not on the scene.
Life when a family gathered around the radio in the evening to listen to a favorite broadcast is truly a contrast to our lives today. IF the whole family is home, it is not likely that all the members will be in the same room since all our electronic devices beckon each of us to our favorite so that family gathering that happened around the big upright radio is gone forever.
Ask most retirees about their lives and they will often comment they don’t know how they had time to work before retirement. They are busy unless health issues curtail that. And it’s not just about fishing or golfing or a multitude of doctors’ appointments that keep them busy. It’s opportunities to serve in endless ways, a chance to learn new things there was never time for before retirement, and discoveries of new passions and ways to use them.
For those not yet retired, they can be surprised when they assume a retiree has time to add one more thing to their schedule to help out in one way or another.
Sometimes times to relax or rest actually get penciled onto calendars to try to assure it happens (even though it still gets eroded many times). Massotherapists are kept busy as people hope an hour of luxurious massage will make up for too little sleep and a non-stop schedule.
I wonder if we misunderstand a basic principle. Planning a recreational activity may be fun and it’s grand to have those, but it can still leave us without the refreshment and sense of restedness from our workaday life. It can fail to nourish us and settle our interior world that is cluttered and unsettled.
I hear believers parched for uninterrupted quiet times without the tyranny of a clock pushing them. Some even have added, “quiet time” to their calendars to try to assure this occurs.
God knew we needed rest. That is evident of Exodus 23:12 where the Sabbath is established and God wants not only man, but even the animals to rest. Jesus makes reference to that in Mark 2:27 (ESV):
“And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
What we may be missing is that the Lord is not just looking at ceasing from work or physical rest. Too many of us can attest to getting enough sleep and still feeling tired.
True rest is not just about pausing our schedules or halting what we are doing.
The secret to rest that refreshes is described well by Jennifer Dukes Lee in It’s All Under Control:
“…true rest isn’t about your lack of activity; it’s about the state of your soul. True rest isn’t a place you go; it’s a Person you know. True rest is the unshakeable presence of God, breathing his gift of life into your whole being – body, mind, and soul – whether you are at your busiest or absolutely still in his embrace.”
As it turns out silence is not just a good spiritual discipline. Jennifer Dukes Lee quotes a Harvard Business Review article that states, “Taking time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive.”
Additionally, “the biggest obstacle to creativity is being too busy.”
As you consider your own state of soul rest, consider Jennifer’s words:
“The world is filled with ambient noise, and it can be hard to hear God’s voice above it all. Maybe it would be easier if God were a screamer, but he’s more like a whisperer, with his still small voice.”
What does that kind of rest do for us? Jennifer makes that clear:
“Resting in God serves two purposes: First, rest allows you to intentionally connect with God. God wants to meet with you, not simply to give you the day’s marching orders. He wants to be with you because he likes you. Second, rest calms the noise around you so you can hear God’s clear direction. In the same way Jesus knew to “go somewhere else” instead of returning to Simon’s house, you can hear where God actually wants you to go when everyone comes looking for you.”