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.