Sunday, March 28, 2010

Disciplined Rest

Discipline and rest sound like antonyms, right? Opposites.

When I think about discipline, I think about getting up early. Running consistently. Saying "no" to fun things when I have responsibilities that need attention. It is encouraged in Scripture-- Paul even says that bodily discipline is of value, and godly discipline is even more important. We are exhorted numerous times to "make the best use of the time." This takes discipline. We need discipline in our schedules, eating habits, finances, relationships...there's not one area of our lives this doesn't touch.

And what does the Bible say about rest? The Bible says that God rested. I think that in and of itself, this truth alone has deep glories to be discovered. Rest wasn't needed. God wasn't tired. And yet in His rest, He sets an example for us: if He, the omniscient, All-Powerful Ruler enjoys rest...we the dependent dust must enjoy rest. He even created us to need it.

As I was sick last weekend, I literally had to force myself to rest. My tendency is to work. I enjoy it- I love emailing new wedding vendor contacts, it's exciting to hear from someone new who's heard about my business, or just return a phone call REAL quick because in the long run it will save me lots of time later...etc, etc, etc.

I found (the hard way) that I lack discipline to rest. I'm not talking the kind of rest like- I've worked all day, my feet are tired and if I stand for another second I'm literally going to fall over "I've-run-out-of-energy" kind of rest. But REST that my mind and soul need in my "awake" hours as well. Rest to truly enjoy the freedom to NOT do things.

Do I have an idol of productivity? Is my definition of productivity different than God's? This needs adjustment.

In recent months, the conversation of "freedom" has been a regular topic discussed. The freedom to do things and the freedom not to. It's not genuine freedom if I HAVE to do something. Or if I CAN'T. Piper talks about his freedom to enjoy chocolate. But how every now and then, he chooses not to have chocolate. Just to exercise his freedom not to HAVE to have it. Do we only use freedom to enjoy things we like and avoid things we don't? If so, we aren't truly free. (We are urged in Scripture not to use our freedom to sin: this is clear.)

I found the Holy Spirit prompting my heart at the beginning of this week: Do I ever enjoy the freedom to not work even when I can?

Please don't mishear. I'm not condoning laziness, nor endorsing irresponsibility. But I found myself contemplating if I was enslaved to "doing."

For all of us "Doers" out there, we must consider: if our tendency is to "do"...our discipline might need to be "rest." That's certainly the case with me. It takes more discipline for me to sit and "do nothing" (ie: rest) than to go running. Or get up early in the morning. Surely this reveals my heart...

But I know for others of you out there, your temptations and tendencies are just the opposite. That's what I find so fascinating about the addresses each of us, specifically.

And I must note (because what would a "Gone Waling" post be without something "cultural" mentioned?) that it seems the British culture has a strength when it comes to rest. And as seems to be our weakness. These are of course very broad generalizations...but I find it so interesting...



Debi Walter said...

Wow, Janelle. It's fascinating that you're thinking some of the very things I've been thinking. Rest is a discipline as much as work.

I'm reading A Praying Life, by Paul E. Miller. He says: "Any relationship, if it is going to grow, needs private space, time together without an agenda, where you can get to know each other. This creates an environment where closeness can happen...You don't create intimacy; you make room for it."

We need to spend time doing nothing so we can enjoy God for who He is not what He provides. It's in the stillness the quiet where His voice is heard. A verse that comes to mind from Proverbs, "I have quieted my soul, like a weaned child at his mother's breast." Think of how satisfied a child is who isn't hungry for this or that, but completely satisfied to just be in his mother's arms. Am I content to just be in my Father's arms?

My year in Wales... a memoir in the making said...

Hey girl,
This seems like my life! How exactly do you decide to much work is to much, and what amount of rest is good?

My struggle is saying no graciously.