Purposeful Rest

In the Old Testament when God was giving out the law to Moses, one of the things that He mandated was that every seventh year, the land was to be given a full year to rest. (Exodus 23:10-11) There is a definite theme of rest going through the Bible. God rested, Jesus rested and took time away, and throughout scripture there are encouragements to take regular rest. But what really gives me pause about this passage is, “What did the farmers do for that whole year?” They would have planned for the seventh year since it was mandated and they would have “budgeted” to have enough to sustain themselves, but what did they do with their time? (by the way, this is how Luke rested on vacation^)

Have you ever thought about what you would do with a whole year or rest? What if you and your spouse (if you are married) had a full year of paid vacation? What would you do with it? It is amazing how in those times of rest and refreshing your dreams come to life and the possibilities just open up in your heart. The truth is if you had a year of paid vacation you would probably spend it doing what you really want to be doing right now. You may even realize how much you actually love your job right now and have just forgotten through burnout. It takes rest to see what we truly value and many times it is only in the place of rest that we actually hear what God is speaking to our hearts. I have a plaque on my wall that reads, “Make time for the quiet moment, for God whispers and the world is loud.” I read that plaque often and laugh because inevitably one of my children is yelling when I read it. The world is so very loud (especially with children), but really it is loud for all of us. Yet it is in the place of rest that our hearts get still and we finally realize what that whisper in our hearts has been all along.

A dear friend called me today after reading my blog and shared how it was only on vacation that she and her husband finally had the time to figure out what was really in their hearts and also to see that they had been making their decisions based on fear rather than on what God was saying. For them, taking a vacation changed the course of their lives, not because of where they went or what they did, but because they took time for rest. She also said how difficult it was to let down and relax on vacation and it actually took her the first 4-5 days to finally give herself permission to relax. She just felt so guilty not working. I know I have felt this exact same thing when on vacation and it usually takes me at least 4 days to start to relax. How about you?

The sad thing is many of us only go on vacation for five days or so and we never reach that place where we just relax and actually rest. We are so driven in work, by our culture, by performance, by control, and by fear that we push ourselves to the point where we either get physically sick, or completely burn out. Even if God has called you to do something and you love it, you can actually lose your joy in what God has given you to do if you do not take the time to rest. Resentment, frustration, fatigue and even getting into sin, can all be signs that you are not resting properly and are not taking the time that you need to let your spirit, and body be refreshed. Your job will begin to steal life from you rather than provide for your life. Before you know it you will be slacking on your job, justifying it because you “really need a vacation.” You will avoid responsibility and say it’s rest, but under the cloud of guilt you still will not rest. You have to have planned time to rest because that is how you were designed.

I feel the Lord so challenging me in this area of my life right now because as a Mom it feels like there is never enough time in the day. Many Moms are guilty of sacrificing themselves for their children and their families. We go and go until we get sick and then we call that our vacation. But really for all of us, there will always be something demanding our time and attention and keeping us from rest. Just like finances, if you aren’t purposeful with your resources they will disappear and you will never feel like you are able to do what you really want to do.

So now I have talked you into a vacation. You are ready to go. Sign you up. But how in the world do you pay for it? I’m so glad you asked that because (I hate to use the cliché but…) where there is a will there is a way. You had to get the “will” first and that is why I have spent so much time talking about why you need rest. The “will” is actually the difficult part because we are so full of excuses. However, once the “will” is in place, there is always a way. And so tomorrow I am going to be talking about the way to pay for vacation. However, “rest” is so much bigger and needs to be so much more a part of our lives than just vacation once a year. If God designed even the ground to need rest, how much more do our bodies, souls, and spirits need rest as well. So don’t wait for vacation to rest. In fact, (in America) today is the 4th of July and is a holiday, so take today and enjoy your family, read a book, do something you love, and take time to rest.