We both pulled up to a red light at the same time. I kept my foot on the brake and waited for the light to turn green. The car next to me kept lurching forward, never fully stopping. It was as if he couldn’t stop, or wouldn’t stop completely. He kept making small, jerky movements forward. By the time the light turned green he was a car’s length past the stop line, out into the intersection.
As I watched this transpire it reminded me of the day I recently had. My schedule is very constant right now. I go from one thing to the next almost every day. From caring for the needs of my family and homeschooling our kids, to being among the people God has allowed me to serve in our church, my calendar is full. I was in my mom’s pool the other day for less than an hour and when I got out and checked my phone, I had 19 text messages of which about half needed a response. This isn’t abnormal.
On this particular day, I had a blank space on the square in my calendar. It was our first day of summer break. After nine months of home school schedule, it was time for a break. I planned to rest the entire day. I would leave the laundry piled, keep the computer closed, and just rest. Maybe take an afternoon nap and wear my sweatpants and slippers until bedtime.
Yet all day long I felt like I was lurching forward, never completely stopping at the stop line. Not fully resting. I couldn’t turn off the list in my head. I kept thinking of tasks I could accomplish, even as I was trying to rest.
I need to plan the training I’m leading next week.
I need to research for an upcoming message I’m preaching.
I should find fun activities for my kids to do this summer.
I need to text that person and check in on them.
I should make dinner.
I needed to plan dinner for the whole week.
I have to help my son with his piano.
I should be playing legos with Jules.
I have a script to finish for Sunday.
My sister was about to have a baby. I should see what she needs help with.
I was physically sitting, but not resting.
To add to this confusing day, the word I used to describe the last two weeks of my life was weary. I was tired, worn down, needing rest. But here I was, with a day of rest right in front of me, and I couldn’t do it well.
What my mind needed was blank space.
What my body needed was a nap.
What my soul needed was a selah. Rest. Time to be quiet.
I’m not good at resting. Being productive is in my blood. I like the feeling of progress, of accomplishing something. But when I actually make time to rest I realize I am horrible at resting.
I felt guilty.
I shouldn’t be stopping. There is too much to do. Too many people who need me.
I was lurching forward, not completely stopping.
It’s almost impossible for me to turn off my brain. The things I could be doing played on repeat in my head.
But I was stopped at the red light and saw the car lurching forward beside me, I realized this was exactly what I was doing. And it was wrong.
Rest is mandated for us by GOD HIMSELF.
Genesis 2:2-3 On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation.
He declared it holy because it was the day He rested from all His work…
Wait, rest is holy?
He declared the day holy because He rested.
Holy means sacred, consecrated to God.
So when I refuse to rest, when I am unable to fully break from work and allow my mind and body to rest, I am refusing sacred moments with God.
Why did God rest? Did He need the rest? No. He’s God. He never sleeps (Psalm 121:4). Maybe He knew we’d need the example of Him resting. He knew we’d get so busy we’d have a hard time hearing His voice unless we stopped and rested. Whatever His reason, He set the example for us to follow.
But do we follow it? I know I don’t always. I’m really good at filling the little white squares on my calendar and not so good at leaving some blank.
I’m working on this though. I’m being more intentional about my squares and also paying attention to the blank spaces.
I realized I needed to figure out what rest meant for me. Rest looks different for everyone.
For me rest almost always means changing my normal routine and doing something different. Whether that means changing my routine inside our home or finding something to do outside our home that is out of the ordinary. For me rest means something different from what I normally do.
When I do this, I often find my mind is cleared, my perspective has changed and I am more in tune with what God is speaking to me.
I also think this spills over into our kids. We wonder why our kids can’t sit still in a restaurant or get bored on a ten minute car ride. Maybe it’s because we haven’t modeled true rest for them. We set the example and they follow it. We stay so busy and keep them so busy, they don’t even know that rest is Biblical, holy and sacred. We need to begin building rest into our lives and showing our kids what it looks like to rest.
Rest isn’t laziness. It’s intentional time to break from the things that fill our normal days and lives.
Begin scheduling blank space. Figure out how you truly rest. Don’t feel guilty when you do rest. God rested. He set the example. He wants us to follow it.
Go to your calendars now and schedule in some blank space. Write the word REST on those spaces. If it’s on your calendar, you are way more likely to follow through with it. It might take some trial and error to figure out how you rest best, so don’t let that discourage you. You will figure it out.
Rest is mandated. Rest is sacred. Rest allows you to commune with the One who created rest.