And He said unto them, ‘Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.’
Friend to Friend
My husband is the master of the ten-minute nap. Dan Southerland can sleep anywhere and anytime. It used to make me so angry when I walked through the living room and saw my husband sprawled out on the couch, taking a nap. What a waste of time! He could be doing so many more important things with those ten minutes. Right?
It took a two-year-battle with clinical depression to make me understand that rest is a command from God, a built-in-need meant for our good. After all, who knows us better than the One who created us?
Fatigue is not one of the spiritual gifts, yet we proudly wear our dark-circled and sleep-deprived eyes as badges of honor and sacrificial living. The enemy loves that kind of flawed thinking. If he can keep us exhausted, he is confident we will be no threat to him.
We must learn to rest.
We must also learn when to rest.
I have discovered a truth that irritates the fire out of me. We need to rest most when we have the least amount of time to rest. I hate to admit just how human I am. I do not like it when God calls me away from my vicious circle of religious activity and into His presence. After all, I spend a lot of time and energy getting all of those irons in the fire.
But every time I obey His call to “come apart,” He transforms what is nothing more than ineffective commotion and frenzied energy into a powerful, life-transforming relationship with Him. Rest empowers us to live a life of purpose. Rest fuels His passion within us.
The human body is programmed for a certain amount of rest. We can cheat it short-term but not long-term. Rest affects the efficiency rating of this human body in which we dwell.
Rest is replenishing and increases productivity. While we sleep and rest … the Father repairs and restores. We run on batteries that must be recharged daily. I’ve discovered that when I’m tired, it’s much harder for me to handle stress. Just as 90 percent of income goes further when we tithe ten percent of it, our energy lasts much longer when we tithe it in rest.
I’ve repeatedly tried to defy my God-given need for rest, thinking that I’m somehow above both the occurrence and consequences of exhaustion. Some urgent task will always call my name, as will that person whose life will absolutely disintegrate before my eyes if I don’t do something right now. My ego loves those deadly toxic strokes that are from the pit and smell like smoke.
Stress shouts, “Get busy! There’s so much to do!” Stress applauds and dances with delight as I keep on “doing” instead of “being.”
Stress can make us sick. In fact, according to medical experts, stress is deadly. Between 60 to 90 percent of all medical patients complain about stress-related symptoms. My doctor tells me that stress can be good or bad, but either way, stress takes its toll.
Life is so daily and often filled with uncertainty, a reality that can make me very nervous. I want to know what the plan is and how that plan is going to be implemented. Details! I need details! Instead, God calls me to rest. I don’t want to rest. When I rest, I feel guilty. I have places to go, people to see, and important things to do. I hear the quiet whisper of the One who knows me best and loves me most, “Mary, it is time to rest.”
In Psalm 23:2 the psalmist writes, “He lets me rest.” Don’t let that gentle statement fool you. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says it this way, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” I can personally testify to the fact that the word “makes” holds a world of possibilities in the hands of our creative God.
Throughout the years God has gently grabbed my attention with an illness that drove me to bed or a crisis that drove me to my knees. He is a persistent loving Father and well aware of just how much rest we need and when we need it.
We will rest – one way or another.
God’s love will see to it.
Father, forgive me for the arrogance that keeps me on the run, trying to prove my worth. Teach me how to rest in You, Lord. Help me learn how to say “no” to those things that keep me from sitting at Your feet. Give me a hunger and thirst for You that can only be satisfied by time alone with You. I love You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Consider the following questions. Record your answers in your journal.
- Why does it really mean to “be still before God”?
- What “time thieves” do I need to eliminate from my schedule?
- What long-term commitment do I need to make concerning rest?
- What areas of my life are out of control and need to be submitted to God?
More from the Girlfriends
God has a plan for dealing with the stress in life by learning how to build in margins that allow us to rest. Need help? Check out Mary’s six-week Bible Study, God’s Answer to Stress.