Rest is something that, like most, I haven’t quite figured out. I know the biblical principle of the Sabbath and I know that taking time to “just be” yields some pretty epic results in spiritual and relational health and productivity. But for some reason, I have had a hard time actually adopting this practice into my life and I think that it’s not that uncommon.
Now, I am not an expert on this subject and there are things that I am personally still figuring out and questions I am still asking, but I would love to share some of my process with you below. I won’t be diving into the biblical instructions of rest, as it can be very involved. However, what I will share is my journey of learning what rest means, how I found what works for me, what doesn’t work, and how I’m applying rest in my journey with the Lord.
What is Rest?
I have discovered (more accidentally than on purpose) that rest is an active, not passive, act. I found that there is a distinct difference between the two mindsets and how we implement them. A passive rest drains you. You don’t feel rested, in fact, you feel more tired than before. Active rest is life-giving, you feel energized and ready to be productive. Now I want to clarify, and I’ll highlight this in greater detail later, there is not a perfect way to truly rest. One person’s active rest can be another’s passive rest. It depends on how you are wired, what God is talking to you about, and the season that you are in.
True rest in yourself and in the Lord requires a certain level of emotional and spiritual engagement. The Jewish culture of Sabbath has ritual and law practices, creating space for intentional interaction and reflection with themselves and with the Lord. It was the desire of God that rest would create a space for intimacy with him and celebration of what he has done, as well as create an opportunity for us to love ourselves well by enjoying the fruits of our labor. I think it has become easier for us to just disengage from our competitive culture and call it rest rather than having intentionality surround our Sabbath as we find true ease within ourselves where we come out energized spiritually, mentally and physically.
How I find rest now?
When I would want rest or have introverted time in the past, I would sit and believe that because I had a busy week and didn’t have anything going at the moment, that I had a license to not do anything. I could sit and watch TV or play video games, not do laundry or anything that looked like work because I wanted to be obedient to my “me time”. This didn’t seem to work. I was still tired or stressed after. I didn’t feel like I had achieved anything with my time and I didn’t feel prepared for what was ahead. I wasn’t having “me time,” I was just disengaging from the world. I was creating anxiety around this precious time because I wasn’t getting what I needed.
I was challenged by a friend to take time and stop before stepping into rest and think through what I needed to do. Did I need to have time with my wife? Did I need to spend time with the Lord? Did I need to be alone? When I established what it was I needed in rest, I would then pause and figure out how I needed to get that.
Did I need to get coffee and chat with my wife? Did I need to read my Word, or spend time in worship? Did I need to play video games or watch a favorite movie? Or did I need to read a good book while listening to music? Pausing and asking yourself “what do I need?” Is powerful. You start engaging with yourself and stop working with assumptions. Yes, a movie and video games can bring rest and life, but not if it’s not what you are needing in that moment. We are creatures of habit, and sometimes those habits can drain us rather than add value to our lives.
How Do I do this with Jesus?
Sabbath with the Lord is beautiful. I encourage you to look through scripture, both Old and New Testament ideas of the sabbath to determine why this is such a high value to Lord.
I know that I am not fully engaged with the Lord when I am not fully myself. True ease is important with connection to Lord. He desires intimacy with us. Through the Holy Spirit, we are brought into a place of love. Feeling calm and present doesn’t come easily in our world, it needs to be protected and fought for. Asking God what he wants to do with you in your time with him will add depth to your time together. Reading the Word is a central part to knowing who he is, but if we are doing it to just tick it off a list because we don’t have time and we feel rushed, it isn’t valuing the invitation God is extending. Having true contentment in our hearts, which is found in rest in him and in ourselves, means we get to engage him as he engages us; without distraction, in full peace and expectancy that He has good things planned for us.
- Read the Scriptures, the Old and New Testament concepts of Sabbath. Identify what it is God is asking us to do when he invites us to rest and see if you can implement that into your week.
- Make a list of 10 things that bring you peace and energy. These can be anything from nature walks, to video games, to restaurants. What is it that brings you life? Think outside the box. See how you can implement them into your everyday life, and in your times of intentional rest.