Originally published Thursday, 03 January 2013.
One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 NAS
I’m not good at resting. I want to do a little of everything. I want to go here and see this and experience that and pick up a new instrument while brushing up on a foreign language. My grandma used to say the grave is for resting. Until she was in her eighties she could work rings around most people half her age. She’s going on 94 and is resting more now than she used to, but by any standards she is a very active woman for 90-something.
Many of the women I have most looked up to have been go-getter-gals; always building, creating, growing and doing. In my family, accomplishing academic goals was the rhythm of my growing-up life. So what’s a girl to do who grows up and finds herself a pastor’s wife with a passion to serve, an “extra curricular” writing and teaching ministry, along with a side business to run, but to be very, very busy!
The last few years have been full of curve balls and lots of flexing both in our public and private life. All the changes, the work, the demands, the not-enough-sleep caught up with me. I managed to acquire a few health issues which a number of lifestyle changes can remedy--rest being number one! I told someone I was so frustrated with my body for doing this to me I felt like taking it out back and giving it what for! She grabbed my shoulders and said, “You’ve been doing that very thing for years. Now it’s time for you to REST!”
So I’m learning to rest. I’m not good at it. But I’m trying! A couple more hours of sleep a night, making sure I eat more regularly, avoiding unnecessary drama, more reading, more breathing, more finding empty brain space--all that.
While the world around us might value effort and striving more than resting and quietness, this bit of wisdom from Ecclesiastes flies in the face of that notion. Not only does it state that rest is better than striving, but (depending on how you count up word usage, etc. for the commands in the Bible) rest is the most frequent command. Maintaining a Sabbath was an integral facet to Jewish culture. It still is today. 1 Peter 3:4 says that a gentle, quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight. A gentle, quiet spirit comes from a peaceful, calm, quiet heart--not a crazy-busy, rushing, agenda-laden heart.
My husband usually gets one day off a week. Some years back we realized I needed to say “no” to church, business or social activities on that day. Otherwise we’d never get any down-time in our schedule and we’d miss connecting far too easily. So I don’t attend women’s functions on that day and I don’t schedule appointments then. And the world keeps turning and we are better for saying “no” one day so we have more to give the other days.
God might call us into seasons of intense busyness. But He has also wired us to require rest. As you consider 2013, perhaps all the pressing hard for goals needs to be measured up against God’s design for rest in your spirit and in your life.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 NAS