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Find Rest My Soul
Greetings all from my summer retreat. That is to say, from Colorado Springs where I’m happily back with the family. It’s been a great couple of months. Don’t get me wrong, I love college, but things can get a little draining at times, particularly towards the end of a semester. Not to bring back too many traumatic memories for anyone, but there’s nothing to remind you of your own mortality quite like finals season. It’s like the author of Ecclesiastes says, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” There is certainly a time for hard work, and there is also a time to slow down, refuel, and rest. This summer has been a great time to rest. I wanted to explore that idea in this post: what is the place of rest in all of our lives? Something my family knows very well about me, I’ve never been one to pass up a good vacation. I put so much stock by R&R when I was a kid that it sort of verged on the ironic. I always did really well in school, but I was always the one counting down the days until the weekend. Every time even the smallest snowstorm moved through town, I got so tied up in knots wanting school to get cancelled that my froth over it became legendary. I was the kid wearing my pajamas inside-out and sleeping with ice down my pants to encourage the best outcome. (Okay, not really, but you get the idea.) In short, I believe in the importance of recharging. You’ll never do your best work without giving yourself a break every now and then. Be that as it may, there’s a pitfall here that’s always bugged me. I don’t want to be lazy. A part of me always wants to be getting something done, climbing the next mountain, checking off the next big accomplishment. I start feeling guilty in the midst of rest. Isn’t there more I should be doing, redeeming the time, devoting more to the callings I have from God? I can only imagine that this feeling is amplified a hundred times for parents. You’ve got a lot more weight on your shoulders than a twenty-year-old college kid. There are children depending on you, many of them with unique challenges. You’ve got to be the provider, the role model, the leader, the helper; for them, possibly also for a spouse. Not to mention your ministry to coworkers, friends, relatives, who knows what else? You’ve got responsibilities you can’t put aside, real burdens to bear. You can’t afford the time to rest right? Hold on. Perhaps that attitude has more to do with stubborn self-reliance than with your legitimate responsibilities. After all, one of Jesus’ most famous promises in the gospels is “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” And in the Old Testament, when Israel was surrounded on all sides, fighting for their lives, it’s pointed out “The LORD will fight for you. You need only to be still.” Or we can take one of the most well-known quotations from the Psalms, “Be still and know that I am God.” So yes, God’s given us responsibilities. But one of those responsibilities is to rest. Rest with a consciousness of God reorients us toward Him and toward each other. Of course, rest is supposed to be purposeful too. It’s an opportunity to seek God and taste His goodness. If need be, it can be fit into just a few quiet moments. God knows the responsibilities he’s given you, and He’ll bless the rest you can get. But rest we should. And its also a personal conviction of mine that Godly rest isn’t just Bible reading and meditation. Never forget, the Bible ends in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb; that’s a party, folks. Long story short, tasting and seeing that the LORD is good often involves having fun. We were made to enjoy the people and things he’s given us. Done right, it sets us on the right path. So don’t begrudge yourself some rest. Check out the resource database, there’s a lot of places looking to offer just that. Put your feet up, get some R&R.