Please Stop Running

by Jonathan Trotter on July 27, 2014


In my former life (and I mean that in a totally non-Buddhist way), I worked as a trauma nurse at an inner-city emergency department in the States. One of the first rules new hires had to learn in the ER was that No.One.Runs. Even if someone just got shot or stabbed or is actively dying, no one runs. Even if you have to go to the bathroom really bad, no one runs.

Even in the middle of taking care of a trauma victim, it was better to be calm and methodical than stressed out and in a hurry. So many times I heard a senior physician or nurse tell the newbie, “Slow down. Breath. Think.” The “slowness” of the attending physician didn’t mean she cared less about the patient. It didn’t mean she was lazy. It didn’t mean she was worn out. It meant she was experienced.


Oh, How We Run

And then I joined the “overseas worker club” and I realized, WE’RE ALL RUNNING. Oh, how we run. We run to get here. We run to learn language. We run to get stats and photos that we can e-mail back to our senders. And when we return to our passport countries for a furlough, we run even faster! So much of overseas work seems to involve running and running and trying and striving.

There’s so much to do! There’s so much need! We need more money! We need more people! People are dying! If we don’t help, no one will! Go! Go! NOW! Hurry up! Time’s short!

It’s exhausting. Yeah, we’re running, but we’re also tired.

So, can I invite you to slow down for a second?

Could we just push pause for a second and invite the Prince of Peace to teach us what it might look like to live in peace, even in the ER? Even on the field?

Perhaps this is simplistic, but I really believe that overseas workers would last longer and be healthier if we could learn a bit about Rest.

After all, God doesn’t give extra credit to workaholics.

In God’s economy, obedience isn’t measured by how much work gets done; it’s measured by whether the work we did was the work God asked us to do. Sometimes, it’s simply measured by a cup of cold water, lovingly given.

Jesus doesn’t call us to work in his fishers-of-men-factory until we drop dead from exhaustion. He is not like that.


Jesus, Our Example

Jesus, the guy who could have died from exhaustion long before he died on the cross, is our Teacher. He provides a wonderful example of Rest. After all, he had a pretty important job to do, a high calling if ever there was one, and only 24 hours in a day, just like us.

He spent lots of time with people, loving, serving, healing, confronting, and teaching. He spent lots of time coaching and traveling and discipling.

But he found Rest in solitude. Often. He found Rest in the presence of his Father, on a mountain, away from demanding crowds and disbelieving disciples. He needed those times of refreshment; he needed Rest physically, and I believe he needed this regular Rest spiritually. So do we.

Jesus perfectly balanced exterior, people-focused ministry with deep Rest. Jesus rested in the peace and security and love and acceptance of his Father, and then turned around and loved people like crazy.

May we do the same. May our time with the Father, resting in his presence, drive us to love people. And after a time of loving and serving people, may we take our bone-weary souls back up the mountain to Rest with our Father.

Rest is not a bad word.

Rest is not a waste of time.

Rest is holy, and commanded.

Rest forces me to admit my humanity.

Rest reminds me to agree, once again, that He’s God and I’m not.


Not All the Same

I grew up thinking that the only correct way to Rest was by spending time reading the Bible and praying. Of course, those disciplines are healthy and necessary, but they’re not everything. Some of us have souls that resonate with music, and the rhythm and poetry of a song can transport us into the presence of Majesty. If that’s you, then you may need to invest in some good headphones and a robust iTunes account.

Some of us require the deep colors of open space, or ocean. If that’s you, you may need to carve out time in your schedule, as a friend of mine has, to escape the concrete jungle and visit a national park. (If you live in the jungle, you just might have to visit a city and enjoy the thing called Starbucks, or electricity.)

The way you Rest will be unique, so resist the urge to compare or judge. For example, my wife reads science magazines and the periodic table of the elements and is awed by the Creator. I just get a headache (and a B minus.) She’s also found that a long tuk-tuk ride (think moto-driven carriage) through the city does wonders for her soul, giving her space to reconnect with the Father without the clamoring of four small children.

I don’t know what Rest looks like for you, but I know it will be something that connects you to Jesus. It will be something that stirs your soul and lifts your heart. Whatever that is for you, find it, guard it, schedule it, do it.

Allow your love of people to drive you into the deep embrace of the Father, and allow his heartbeat, his thoughts, to drive you back to loving people.

We do, all of us, work in an emergency department. There is death and trauma and pain and suffering all around. And yet, in the midst of the storm, in the middle of it all, there is Peace. His name is Jesus.

So if you must run, then run hard, straight to him. He’ll catch you.


Have you been running recently? How do you slow down and Rest?


~ Sacred Pathways, by Gary Thomas was an excellent resource in my journey to discover what healthy Rest looked like for me. I highly recommend it.

~ Photo Credit: This sign hung on the wall between the ambulance bay and the trauma rooms. I chuckled every time I passed it. It still makes me smile.

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About Jonathan Trotter

Jonathan is a missionary in Southeast Asia, where he provides pastoral counseling at a local counseling center. He also serves as one of the pastors at an international church. Before moving to the field with his wife of sixteen years and their four kids, he served as a youth pastor in the Midwest for ten years. He enjoys walking with people towards Jesus and eating imported Twizzlers. | | facebook: trotters41 | twitter: @trotters41
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  • Shari

    I live in Battambang, Cambodia. I don’t have a car to escape in, only my moto, and local transportation. So, one way I found to escape is to get a motodop (moto taxi) to take me to the countryside to take photos. Not driving is relaxing, not being the only one in a tuktuk is less conspicuous, and not having to remember where I am: priceless. I just relax and ride along, stopping for pics when I am inclined. Seeing the beauty of God’s creation in Cambodia is relaxing to me.
    Another missionary invited me to join her group at a hotel pool for lunch one day as I had not had a day off in 2 months. They were all young, bikini clad swimmers, and this is totally not my thing, so I almost declined. But what I discovered is that I feel utterly isolated and alone in this setting and can get lost in the presence of God here. I have been back several times on my own to just sit and read, pray, or bob in water on really hot days, and completely rest in the Lord.
    Both of these activities are far from my “previous life” activities. So, my suggestion, albeit unsolicited, is to be open to finding new ways to rest and enjoy the presence of God. You many be really surprised where He takes you. Glory!

    • I love it! Sounds like you’ve found some Rest in the Kingdom of Wonder, eh? : ) By the way, do you post your Cambodia pics anywhere online? I’d love to see them sometime…

  • jarofclay77

    Totally needed to hear this especially the part about different ways of resting for different people. Love it.

    • Glad that was helpful, man. I mean, seriously, how boring would it be if we were all the same? : )

  • I love this post, Jonathan! A friend of mine who is a former paramedic talks about “contagious calm” in a hospital. There are some people whose calmness even in the midst of a crisis truly is contagious. I believe we could be the same way to others (have a calming influence) if we ourselves stay centered–even when you have an excitable personality like yours truly–stoic has never been used to describe me! 🙂

    For me, rest starts with guarding my time with Jesus on my porch every morning. Other restful exercises include being aware of where I might be carrying stress, and intentionally relaxing both my muscles and my mind. I do lots of little things like that in order to rest in the midst of travel and work. I’m also intentional about doing things with people who refresh me (while avoiding, when I can, energy suckers). Plus I try to live with an awareness of the beauty around me. I also do things like celebrate the Sabbath and take short vacations when I can, but I believe it’s the little things we do/don’t do throughout our days that can rejuvenate us all the more.

    • An excitable personality? Really? I couldn’t tell from your profile picture. : ) Thanks for your comment! I think you’re spot on with your thoughts on doing the “big” things like vacations, while not minimizing the effects of daily “small” things. They do tend to add up after all, for better or worse…

  • Richelle Wright

    One of the best ways for me to stop running is to take my kids to the pool (with a friend who takes hers as well), and sit, sip, watch the kids play and visit… or if there’s no friend, take a good book… and that so became my “escape” while overseas that I find myself missing it something awful in the states… 🙂

    Here, we find rustic camping (or else the kids are tempted to be on those crazy electronic devices) to be a good get-away.

    Also, like Adele mentions – making sure I take/make time for Jesus in the early part of my day is absolutely critical.

    Totally agree that calm and steady works wonders – it certainly helped me when it comes to terrified kids, sick kids, hysterical kids… they seem to feed off of whatever emotion I present to them. Thankfully, maybe because I’m more introverted and tend to hold my cards particularly close when I’m scared or feeling vulnerable… people think I’m calm even when I’m falling apart and screaming on the inside. Of course, that means I need to have someone with whom I can debrief… after the fact, another important aspect in resting – or keeping myself from getting all wound up.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Richelle! I appreciate your balancing of “holding your cards close” with the need to debrief with a safe person, after the fact. That’s so healthy, I think, and an element that often gets overlooked.

      One of our favorite family vacations while Stateside is staying at a campground that’s nestled in the mountains. The mountains do an amazing job of blocking cell phone coverage, and sometimes I need that added layer of protection for Rest. What I mean is, if I have to climb a mountain just to check messages or FB, I’m more prone to slow down.

      • Richelle Wright

        LOL… climbing a mountain would tend to slow me down… not to mention get my heart rate up and me quite out of breath and would DEFINITELY deter me from using that smart phone!

        We had friends with a satellite phone out in the bush in W. Africa – he used to have to climb their water tower to get a signal. 🙂 He was very disciplined about it and made the climb once a week – I think – I imagine that was harder, though, when he was waiting for news about older parents or grandbabies…

  • Linda Funke

    Thank you so much for this! My husband and I constantly need to be reminded to rest. We have been running a lot lately, and we were just talking today about how we need to get back to intentionally doing the things that help us rest.

    Exercise, the occasional evening walk, evening devotions/prayer, watching childhood TV shows, talking with a Skype counselor who specializes in missionary care, listening to music, and reading books are a few of the ways we’ve found to cope with the daily stresses. However, we’ve found that we also sometimes have to step away from everything. Every 6-8 weeks, we spend a night in the closest city, sometimes visiting with other missionary friends and sometimes just having time to ourselves. We let that slip for a few months earlier this year, and we definitely noticed the difference. We also try to go on a longer vacation at least once or twice a year. I wrote a blog about the importance of self-care recently when I realize how much I absolutely needed it! It takes so much intentionality.

    • Your right, regular times of Rest don’t happen by default. I appreciated your blog post about the stressors and joys of living abroad. May God grant you all deep peace and Rest in the coming months and years. all for ONE, Jonathan

  • Such a good post. A great reminder for us all. I have always come back to the reality that Jesus, in all his “Saviour of the world” status, NEVER RAN. He walked everywhere. I don’t think there is one scripture referring to Jesus doing anything but walking. This Man was not in a rush, even when He had only 3 years of ministry and a so-called “life cut short”. An example for all of us, in all walks of life. Thanks again for this post!

    • That’s an interesting thought…a Savior who walked. In our modern mindset, we would look at a life like that and think of all the good that COULD have been done if only he had been able to move faster and reach more people. Sobering, for sure. Thanks for the comment, Alison.

      • Yes, a very interesting thought indeed haha. I have always been fascinated by how short Jesus’ ministry was (and his life too) AND how unrushed and slow it was. Yet definitely no one could say ‘ineffective’. Yes, Jesus could have been accused of many things. And well, he was specifically with the death of his good friend Lazarus. He didn’t even rush back for that. He probably walked the whole way…

  • Lourens Laureti

    Thanks, I am a missionary in Papua New Guinea ad we are on home assignment at the time. We ourselves have been running and I apreciate t reminder to rest in HIM.

    • May your rest be sweet indeed! Thanks for stopping by, Lourens!

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