Rest. It’s a word that’s been getting a lot of attention lately. We hear how it’s beneficial for our mental, physical, and emotional health. Yet, while we all crave rest, it seems as if our society as a whole has become more overwhelmed, over-worked, and overly tired than ever before.
The truth is, we live in a restless world. We are constantly inundated by massive amounts of information. We’ve allowed our schedules to be filled to the brim with events and activities. Between all the demands and being pulled in so many directions, it’s causing our well-being to suffer. Sadly, all the busyness and continual high amounts of stress are leading to major health concerns. Anxiety and depression are on the rise. Along with heart attack and stroke. Not to mention the use of recreational drugs. People are hurting. People are weary. Everyone longs for rest and is looking for a cure. But, the easy “go-to” solutions oftentimes cause more harm than good. And those brief reliefs are merely putting a temporary fix on a deeper problem.
So, how exactly do we seek rest in a restless world?
In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus invites us to find the rest our souls truly crave by abiding in Him. He further tells us to learn from Him about rest as His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Those words sound so reassuring, but take a moment and read them again. Those words offer more than a simple solution or quick fix. It’s not taking a mini-vacation and feeling refreshed for a few days only to feel stressed to the max once you return to work. It’s not ghosting those that are adding stress to your life and then feeling guilty when seeing them in person. It’s not slipping off into a bubble bath or finding immediate stress relief in a bottle or tub of ice cream. Real rest, the kind that is mentioned in the verse above, isn’t found in a bunch of little solutions to help make us feel better. That’s because the rest that Jesus offers isn’t just about us, nor is it a simple one-time fix solution.
When Jesus invites us to find rest in Him, it’s because He deeply cares for our well-being, and He knows what our souls really need. He tells us to learn from Him and models rest throughout Scripture.
The first example of rest is found in the beginning. After six days of creation, God rested (Genesis 2:2). Did He need to rest? No. However, He established the importance of a schedule that offers us the blessings of our work (Colossians 3:23-24) and the power of rest.
Did you catch that first part? God calls us to work. From the very beginning, God called Adam to tend the garden (Genesis 2:15). God designed us to work because He knew an idle mind was dangerous (Proverbs 16:27). God gave us the gift of work as a way to show His love for us and for us to share His love with others. When we find healthy pride and feel confident in our abilities, it’s easy to spread God’s love like confetti. Especially when our hearts yearn to please Him alone. But that’s not the best part. It’s in those times that we work with a heart to glorify God, that He invites us to spend time with Him. To find rest after a hard week, to get our souls refreshed by His merciful and powerful love. So, we can glorify God in our work – and our rest!
David offers another example of rest. Throughout the book of Psalms, David points out his deep need for rest. Being known as the “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), we can easily see that David was not perfect, but a man who relied on God’s strength. Psalms 23 is one of the most infamous and well-loved passages found in Scripture. It paints a lovely picture of David’s pure surrender to the will of God and how he truly enjoyed God’s presence. David relishes in God by laying down in green pastures, being led to quiet waters, and allowing God to refresh his soul. David delighted in God, and oh, how God delighted in him!
When was the last time you stopped and became totally in awe of God in that way? Being led to a spot to just be completely filled by His goodness and utterly absorbed by His presence. When was the last time you actually laid down in the grass and let the sun kiss your face?
It’s been a while for me too, and if I were being honest, the last time I really looked at grass, much less laid in it, wasn’t to take in its beauty and enjoy God’s presence. Here’s the harsh truth, my friend: When we forget to lay down in our own green pastures and relish in His glory, our hearts are not searching for God; they are searching for self.
Where the world tells us to fill up on “stuff” to be happy, which in turn leads to "rest", it’s merely a façade. God invites us into His presence to be set free. To be set free of searching for more. The world will always offer solutions that keep us chasing after happiness, but God gives us an eternal and everlasting answer that fills us with hope. God’s rest offers contentment and provides us with a renewed mind, body, heart, and soul. He provides a spiritual rest. All we have to do is respond.
So, how do we glorify God in our rest?
Stop working. Take a break. Take a day. Reserve a time to worship and celebrate what God has been doing in your life. It can be a simple act of stepping away from the computer to walk the neighborhood and converse with God while marveling at His beauty. But take a moment to just pause and step away from work and fully rest in Him.
Say no. Being a people-pleaser plagues many of us. While we are called to serve and love others, we can’t do that well if we are overextending ourselves. By asking God where He wants you to serve, you have the ability to do so with a happy heart. It also provides the opportunity for others to step in and serve as well.
Laugh. Nothing is better than a good belly laugh. Am I right? I am so thankful God knew that laughter would not only help us connect with others, but also connect deeper with Him. The Proverbs 31 women surely knew a little something about this (Proverbs 31:25). She understood that fear and anxiety couldn’t take hold when we find joy in laughing out loud.
Turn complaints into compliments. It starts out simple enough. We get swept away in the emotion and the words fly out. The sports car that cut you off on the way home. The mom that posts pictures from moms' night out, and you weren’t invited. The trash that forgot to go out – again. Grrr. There is a lot to complain about. Yet, have you noticed that complaining really doesn’t make us feel better? It surely doesn’t produce rest. In fact, it produces lots and lots of stress. We already have enough of that. Let’s try a new approach. Find ways to encourage others. Make it a part of your day. It will make you and others feel better.
Live in the moment. We’ve all heard that life is short and to live in the moment. But if we truly think deeper about that statement, we begin to see that each day is a gift, and we should celebrate the fact that we still have life left on this earth to make an impact (Psalms 118:24). When we remember who we are and Who we follow, it’s easier to live with purpose and be intentional about how we spend our time. Instead of searching for happiness, search for ways to worship God with your heart, mind, body, and soul. Delight in Him and let Him delight in you!