Thursday, March 10, 2011

Too Busy to Rest

Rest. Relax. Take a day off.  Why does there seem to be little time for this?  We feel so busy, with seemingly less and less time for rest.  Where does that get us?  Are we more productive?  Making more money? Happier? More content?  Rest is imperative.  God gave us an example of rest in the Old Testament and then Jesus was an example of rest in the New Testament.

Rest is a command give by God to the Israelites.  In fact it's one of the original commands.  "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Work six days and do everything you need to do.  For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and Sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day." (Exodus 20:8-11 MSG)  God created everything and then rested.  When He commands the Israelites to rest, He refers to His own example of rest when He created everything.  I don't think it is because God gets tired.  I think it's because He knew we needed the example of rest.

Jesus made time for his disciples to rest.  "Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'" (Mark 6:31 MSG)  Jesus knew that as humans we physically and mentally need downtime.

When we are tired we are not on top of our game.  The enemy, Satan, knows that if you are running on empty, you are most vulnerable.  Even Jesus was tempted after fasting in the desert for 40 days.  Satan targets Jesus when he was in a weakened physical state.  If Jesus is susceptible to temptation, how much more will Satan wage war on you during your exhausted, stressed, and busy state?  We are so busy with work, kids, households responsibilities that we run on empty.  Ironically, we often, feel guilty because we are not doing more.  I heard author Beth Moore call it the, "captivity of activity".

How can we implement this practice of rest in our lives?  First, we must reject the lie that we can do it all.  Set aside time with your spouse to determine your family's priorities and decide what activities best fulfill that purpose. 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen Covey can help.

Next focus only on the things that fit your family's purpose.  Don't allow other things distract you from your goal and don't feel guilty about saying no.  Are there lots of good things out there to do?  Yes, but they aren't necessarily for you to do.  Do your children need to be in every activity ever offered to them? Do you need to volunteer in every ministry of the church?  Do you need to do every community service event?  Be discerning, and only do what fits your family purpose.

Finally, set aside purposeful rest time.  Designate time in your schedule to rest.  Tell yourself this time is for enjoying your family, working on a hobby, or spending time with the Lord.  Don't allow guilt to rob you.  Don't spend the time thinking of all the things you need to do.  Clear your mind of those things.

Be still. Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God."  How can you hear what God is trying to say to you if you don't take the time to listen?  Slow down. Allow Him to use this time to refuel you so that you can be even more effective in His kingdom.  We are here to serve Him, not ourselves, and not society.  He loves you. Get some rest.