In a world of chaos, what are we supposed to do about rest?
We look around us at all the need and work that should be done. Rest just doesn’t seem like an option, especially for those of us in full time ministry. So, we push it off again and again until we burn out from pure exhaustion.
Of the Ten Commandments, rest is the easiest to ignore but one that should never be neglected.
Here are four questions about something that should be so simple but that we have made so complicated. These concepts and quotations are from the book, The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.
1. Why do I rest?
“The worst hallucination busyness conjures is the conviction that I am God.”
We work day in and day out. We become tired, bitter even, and the joy we had once felt about our calling dissolves and decays before our eyes. We feel that everything is dependent on us. If we stop for just one minute, everything we’ve fought so hard for will be ruined.
We’ve fallen into a lie. The same lie that tempted Adam and Eve in the garden: we think we can be God.
Rest is not just obedience to God’s command (Exodus 20:8). It is much more than that. When we rest, it forces us to stop. It forces us to take a step back and practice trust. And when we open our eyes and let them adjust, we realize that the whole time, God has been working in so many more ways than we could have ever imagined.
2. How do I rest?
“We mimic God in order to remember we’re not God.”
No, rest is not just an excuse to shut yourself away and veg-out in front of the tv or your laptop. It is not a sin you are committing by allowing yourself to breathe. And true rest is not a checklist of rules about a specific regimen you keep one day of the week.
True rest is purposeful, but be careful not to fall into the extremes of leisure or legalism.
Relaxation and leisure are beautiful gifts that God allows us to enjoy from time to time, but if those are your only forms of rest, you will come out of those experiences more drained than ever. But if you become legalistic about how you keep the Sabbath, you might just find yourself slaving harder than ever before.
No. Rest is not a science. It’s an art form. That’s what makes it so difficult and at the same time so freeing.
Rest is a mindset that one must have. A trust and reliance on God that He will complete the work that you are too exhausted to continue. So strive to change your mindset and live in an attitude of rest.
3. When do I rest?
“Unless we trust God’s sovereignty, we won’t dare risk Sabbath.”
Schedules get disrupted and adjusted. If you limit your rest to a scheduled time, you will grow all the more angry each time you are interrupted or your plans change. You will feel cheated when every minute is not used to the fullest.
Rest cannot be restricted to a specific time or day. You cannot force rest. It is a heart change. A release. It is a new mindset of living in complete dependence on God as the one in control. He is sovereign over your work, your loved ones and even your time.
4. Do I deserve to rest?
“Sabbath is refusal to go back to Egypt.”
When you say no to a commitment because you’re already too overwhelmed, or when you leave your dishes in the sink to chat with a friend instead, you may experience a feeling of guilt.
How dare you limit yourself? Don’t you realize all that needs to be done? You become a frustrated Martha rebuking Jesus for allowing Mary to sit at his feet.
You hear the same accusation again and again. “You don’t deserve rest.”
And the truth is — you don’t.
But that is what makes rest so beautiful. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to pay for it. Rest is a gift and it’s one that God offers to us.
No, you don’t deserve rest, but it’s been given to you anyway. So, stop trying to earn it. Stop gripping the taskmaster’s whip when freedom has already been won.
Rest is coming out of Egypt and being free for the first time in your life. Rest is leaving the taskmaster’s whip behind. Rest is recognizing that you cannot save the world, but your Father can. He already has and he calls you to himself and says, “Be still.”
Learn more about rest and the sabbath mindset by reading The Rest of God (this is an affiliate link which helps to support the A Life Overseas blog).
Natalie Arauco serves in a small, mountainous village of Guatemala. She teaches English every day at the village school all while sharing the love of Jesus with her 12-17 year old students. Natalie also works alongside the local church with their community outreach and discipleship ministries. Natalie writes about culture, missions, and her adventures in her blog: Natalie in Guatemala.