When you think of the word rest, what do you think of? When and where do you do it?
Sometimes we think of solitude, rest, or self-care, as a way to recharge our batteries and get enough energy to get back into the action of life. So we take our tired selves apart for a short time, recharge, and then jump back into action. Then we work hard, get exhausted and cranky, and have to take more time out—to rest.
We often think resting is something we do when we leave real life and take time out. Hard work is what we do the rest of the time, and they seem like opposites.
Perhaps something deeper can happen when we take time to rest in God? Consider the possibility that we can actually bring a state of resting into everyday life—right in the middle of doing hard things.
Christ says to us, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30, NKJV) Apparently, even burdens are light when we are bringing Christ’s rest into our real lives.
Henri Nouwen, in The Way of the Heart, states, “Solitude is not a means to an end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in His own image and frees us from the victimizing compulsions of the world. Solitude is the place of our salvation…. St. Anthony spent twenty years in isolation. When he left it he took his solitude with him and shared it with all who came to him. Those who saw him described him as balanced, gentle, and caring. He had become so Christ-like, so radiant with God’s love, that his entire being was ministry.”
Sometimes we women who are working overseas do feel a lot of loneliness—it can almost feel like twenty years in isolation! In addition, we feel we are carrying a heavy burden of responsibility and expectation, as well as the weight of modeling Christian behavior to others. We may well feel like Moses, when he said to the Lord, You have been telling me, “Lead these people,” but you have not let me know whom you will send with me … How wonderful that the Lord’s reply to Moses and to us is, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (Exodus 33, verses 12a and 14, NIV)
So we see, there is a deeper way. The Presence of the risen Christ moves within us. Restoration, rather than just being a place apart to get more energy to get back to “real life,” is a complete way of being. It is a place of being constantly with Christ—staying in love, remaining a branch of the vine, being with Christ so completely that we are remodeled into His image, and we are saved.
This is the kind of rest from which we cannot escape, even if we try. It is the kind of rest that remains even in the darkest times. As David says in Psalm 23, The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
So then, have a restful vacation. Take some time away to rejuvenate. Most of all, bring yourself fully into the Presence of Christ. It can seem scary at first, because we spend so much time with our judging, comparing, calculating minds that we imagine Christ will view us through that tiny lens also. However, you will find that the relief and lightness and loving-kindness we experience in communion with the One who loves us best is entirely surprising and wonderful. Looking into the eyes of the One who knows us and loves us completely, we find a restoration which lasts and becomes the undercurrent of all we do.
Question to consider: When you think of the word rest, what do you think of? When and where do you do it?