When I think of the word "rest," most of the time it's my mom's version of rest when I was a little girl. Every Sunday afternoon was mandatory nap time in the Lowrie house, being a pastor's home bustling with four little girls where silence was hard to come by. Mom would tell us to go to our rooms for an hour to take a nap and when we whined and tried to convince her we weren't tired, oftentimes we were told, "Well at least rest in your room for an hour." I would count down the minutes until the hour was up and once again I was given my freedom. Rest equaled lack of fun in my book.
Clearly I was a little dramatic, but I think even as I've grown I still don't fully comprehend what rest really means. In my life now, as a full-time working adult with church involvement, family and friends taking up most of my time, rest to me usually means a couple of hours of solitude on my couch watching my latest Netflix TV series. I pack my days and nights with activity varying from work to fun and volunteer efforts. "Busy," is typically my reply when people ask how things are going in my life.
Over the past few months, God has been teaching me more about the rest He desires, and in fact commands, in my life. In Genesis, we read about God creating the universe. He spent six days and nights forming darkness and life, water and land, humans and animals and everything else we can think of. And then, on the seventh day, He rested.
"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Genesis 2:2-3
If God, our creator and sustainer, the author and perfecter of life, made time for rest, why do I think I can get by without it? Why do I feel lazy or unproductive during times of rest? At times, I'm afraid my value has become too wrapped up in the things that I do, and the people I do them with, and I have neglected my Savior. I have turned away from what He has commanded of me in an effort to serve Him.
How selfish and conceited am I?
In her devotional book, Breathe, Priscilla Shirer discusses the idea of Sabbath margins (godly parameters) - saying, "No" to some things and really making time for rest in all areas of your life.
"When we curtail our efforts and interests in obedience to the Spirit's conviction – resisting the gnawing sense of guilt or compulsion to keep pressing beyond our boundaries, beyond that which honors God – He will bless our obedience and sustains us" (p.66).
What I have found over the past few weeks is that God is giving me opportunities for rest, but I have to be faithful to truly make those times restful. I can't just fill the time up with more things. I need the solitude. I need the surrender. I need the time with the Lord. That time of rest is actually what empowers me to do all He allows me to do the remainder of the week. It's been refreshing - not draining; uplifting - not burdensome.
If I'm being honest, I still have a long way to go. I definitely have not mastered this concept yet. But, I serve a gracious and loving God who patiently walks alongside me as I figure it out.