When I look at a compass, I am reminded of how often mankind has been trying to find our way to somewhere at some point in time and how much that little device was used to chart waters, deserts, and large land masses to discover the world in which we live. Few even think about or own a compass now. It’s the GPS on our phone that tries to get us to the place we want to go. Sometimes it seems to lose its way as well even though it is much better as a tool than it once was.
Over time we have had prompts from every direction to find our way, to determine our goals, to find a purpose, and to make our lives count but along the way have we lost the original design for us and gotten onto a ‘yellow brick road’ looking for a wizard to fix what we lost or was shattered?
It can happen to any of us and perhaps it has happened to all of us to one degree or another. For all the advances in every facet of our existence, it seems things have only gotten worse, and we can too easily find ourselves driven, caught on a gerbil wheel and unable to get off. We aren’t even sure how we got there because it didn’t happen instantly. Could it be that we were listening to ancient whispers urging us to do more to be able to be more so that we mattered?
“What we assume is a normal lifestyle is absolute insanity to the God-given nature of our heart and soul. Broad is the path that leads to destruction, and many there are who travel it.”John Eldredge
What about this God-given nature Eldredge is referring to?
The Creation story speaks of God’s great work on the first six days, and we often ponder those and marvel at how He spoke things into existence and then took time to create humankind out of the dust of the earth and breathed life into us. But do we miss that on that seventh day He, God, rested? God actually rested and hence the Sabbath was supposed to be a “day of rest”, but did we miss what He wanted us to see about this seventh day in which He rested? We find ourselves tangled and twisted into pretzels trying to gain something and then try to rest and perhaps we don’t even understand what rest is or is supposed to look like. That word, “rest,” is used 257 times in scripture.
We see Jesus with only a short time on earth modeling for us what it means to rest if we pause to reflect on the stories we read.
“It’s a practice Jesus himself cherished…I’ve always been intrigued by his ability to just up and walk away from his world. “John Eldredge
More books and articles, podcasts, workshops, and even sermons are addressing the epidemic issue of our fast-paced lives that keep looking for more rest while often making the wrong choices that leave us still weary and empty.
“Our wheels spin as we shove more to do in a day with no available daylight hours left, only to find ourselves wanting in the end. Not wanting more to do. No, we have plenty to do. We find ourselves wanting more time to do the things we enjoy.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
Most of us have tried to regain balance in our lives in eating, exercise, media use, and more. We have tried great books and the wonderful Pause app by John Eldredge, prayer, and trying to set better boundaries. So why do we keep getting snagged again and again? Is it because we have difficulty refusing to reduce or eliminate the “good” things we are asked to do, ministry things, or any number of really good outreach opportunities?
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Sounds good, doesn’t it and we have all likely read that passage and still have not been able to follow through on what Jesus was telling those who followed Him, people just like you and me. Have we believed the lie that to rest means we are weak and incapable because everyone else seems to be going full speed ahead? Do we still have that concept clinging to us that says the more we do, the more successful we will be?
“A life without periods of rest will not endure the daily grind. Rest is not for weaklings. Hollowing out space for rest is work. Finding time for rest is the hands and feet of the promises we long to claim. It means saying no. It means having limits with ourselves. It means having limits with others. It takes courage to rest in the midst of an outcome-driven society. It takes strength to walk away from good in pursuit of better.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
Be sure to begin the journey to rest and balance but know it will be thwarted without courage, discernment, and wisdom. It’s not about checking out of life or even out of work or doing good things, but it does mean the enemy of our souls will tempt us in every way because he fears us drawing closer to the Lord and experiencing greater levels of intimacy with Him, following the model He laid out at the beginning.
God doesn’t slumber or sleep as Psalm 121:4 says, but from the beginning of his story He rested and we are made in his image, designed to rest to replenish every aspect of who we are and reflect the image of the One who created us.