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Girlfriends in God - Nov. 26, 2007


November 26, 2007

Time to Rest

Mary Southerland


Today’s Truth

1 Corinthians 6:9 19-20 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body. (NIV)


When the Eastern shepherd brings his sheep back to the fold each night, he stands at the door, counting each one, placing his hand on the head of each animal as it enters the fold. The shepherd is diligent in this daily practice of touching his sheep. Why? If the sheep did not feel the daily touch of his shepherd, it would soon fail to respond to the voice of the shepherd, a reality that would spell disaster for the sheep who would not hear the warning shout of the shepherd when danger loomed. Sheep instinctively know that as long as they follow the shepherd, he will meet their every need. Even when they go through a dangerous valley, the shepherd is beside them. At the end of the day, the shepherd leads the flock back to the fold, a three-sided brush enclosure, and stands by the open door to examine each sheep as it enters. If the shepherd sees one sheep that is bruised or weary, he spreads refreshing oil on it to soothe and heal its wounds, and then gives the sheep a drink of cool water. In short, sheep are completely helpless and totally dependent upon the shepherd for every need.



Friend to Friend

I recently heard the frightening statistic that sleeping less than five hours produces the same response time as someone who is legally drunk. If that statement is true, I am in serious trouble because I have always been a “night person” and have cherished those precious, silent hours when the house was quiet. When I did climb into bed, sleep always came quickly – until the last few weeks. Insomnia is something new for me! I have come to dread the night and its silent but fierce battle with sleep. Tossing and turning, watching the hours creep by leaves a great deal of time to think, pray and learn. I have often taught and loved the promise that “He gives to His beloved in their sleep.” As wonderful as that promise is, I am finding it very difficult to function on two or three hours of sleep and am ready to move on to a different classroom! I have tried everything from warm baths and warm milk to relaxation exercises and several herbal concoctions that were downright nasty! The sheep are counted and the blessings listed. I have solved several world problems but what world leader would listen to a woman with dark circles under her eyes who finds it hard to put a complete sentence together due to sleep deprivation?


Then a wonderful thing happened! I got the flu! I know what you are thinking! Lack of sleep has made her crazy! True – but I was so sick that I was forced to see a doctor. During the course of her examination, she happened to ask how I was sleeping. Now I am certain she was not evenly remotely prepared for my response as frustration and exhaustion spilled out all over her nice, quiet office! Her eyes widened in surprise as I ranted and raved. When I finished my tirade, she smiled and quietly said, “Let’s figure out what the problem is.” Just like that!


We talked for over an hour about my life, the medications I was taking, every ache, pain and problem I was experiencing. After a thorough examination, she removed her glasses, sat down and smiled again. “I think I know what the problem is.” Evidently, the insomnia is one side affect of a new medication I am taking. It makes most people sleepy but, in my case, causes insomnia. She made some adjustments and prescribed a new medication that enabled me to sleep better than I have in months. I could not believe it! I did not know whether to hug the doctor or deck her!


Where had she been all of these sleepless weeks and why had she waited so long to figure out the problem? You already know where I am going with this one! She had been there all along – waiting in her office for me – holding the answer in her hand. Desperation made me seek her help. God's plan is not for us to stumble through the hours and days of life - exhausted and depleted to the point of desperation, drowning in stress. We can choose to rest. We can learn to be still.


Matthew 11: 28-29 Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives (NCV).


It seems that during the holiday season, we frantically race from activity to activity, desperately keeping track of the items on our “to do” lists, but losing sight of who and what and important. I am a Master List Maker! I have been known to write down things on my list that I have done…just so I could mark them off! I know! But I tend to equate the success of my day with the length of those lists. I constantly battle this behavior…especially during the holidays.


Rest is usually way down on my list of things to do. I am such a slow learner in this area of life. Why, I don’t need to rest…because…well, I am Superwoman, right? So very wrong! God is so good to “give” me rest. And God is so creative in His ways of doing so. Illness, cancelled appointments, missed flights, unexpected company…will force me to stop…and rest, focusing on the important things in life like time with God, family, friends, and health. We can cheat this thing called “rest” short-term, but the inevitable truth will play out in our lives that we need and must rest.


During the holiday season, carve out time each day to rest. Get a good nights’ sleep. Take a 10 minute walk. Learn the art of the 15 minute nap. Turn off your phone, don’t answer the door and spend 30 minutes in total silence. Play a game with your children or visit a shut-in neighbor. Rest can come in many ways. Discover what replenishes you, what rests your soul, and make it a daily habit.


Let’s pray

Father, forgive me when I abuse my physical body by not getting enough rest. I want to be obedient in this area, but Lord, it seems to be so hard for me. I need Your power to help me. I need Your strength and love to remind and encourage me to be obedient when it comes to rest. I want to praise You and worship You this holiday season by choosing to rest. In Jesus’ name. Amen


Now it’s Your Turn

  • Think of one person who is replenishing in your life.

Make a plan to spend time with that person this week.

  • Identify one activity that reduces stress in your life.

Make a plan to incorporate that activity into your schedule this week.

  • Read Psalm 23 every day during the month of December and regularly measure your stress levels.
  • Make the commitment today to walk in obedience as you learn and choose to rest.
  • Ask a friend to hold you accountable in learning to rest.


More from the Girls

We are right there with you, girlfriends! I can feel the holiday stress slowly creeping over the horizon. Help! Let’s pray for each other. Let’s hold each other accountable. Let’s encourage each other to find daily time to rest. And check out this special holiday Book/CD set (“Escaping the Stress Trap” and “Laugh More…Live Better”) from Mary that will help you experience a peaceful and restful holiday season.


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Originally published Monday, 26 November 2007.