Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Discipline of Rest

What?! Rest isn't a discipline...

Getting up early, going running, eating healthy, spending consistent time in my Bible...those are disciplines.

Yes, they can be. But for some of us-- for those of us who are "do-ers"...who like to get things done, who want to stay one step ahead of life, who can be tempted to push ourselves to do just one more thing and either slide into, or DIVE into self-sufficiency...those of us who make SUCH ambitious to-do lists, that we never accomplish them in one day. And we find ourselves writing down things that we've already done, just to cross something off the list! We have a hard time sitting down and doing nothing and often describe things as  "a waste of time." We think making the best-use-of-the-time means having the most successful and productive day by accomplishing as many tasks as possible in a reasonable time frame. For us, rest is something to be disciplined in. It is probably one of the most un-disciplined areas of my life.

There is always something to pick up. Always a meal to prepare or dishes in the sink. Always guests coming over or kids to babysit. Fruit or veggies that are in their last days and can be redeemed if cut up and thrown in the freezer. Jr High girls to text, a vaccum to run, cards to write for friends; emails that have been in my inbox for far too long. There are groceries to be bought, things to return. The demands of life are many.

I like to get things done so that I CAN rest. Problem is: I will never be "done" until I see the face of my Saviour. This simple realization has been eye opening :)

Recently, my heart has been prompted and probed to consider this area of discipline again. It was something often on my mind and heart while I lived in Wales.

Our all-powerful, fully-sustained, never growing tired or weary God created the heavens, earth, and all that was in them in six days.

Genesis 2:2, "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done."

Then, He rests. Not out of need...He wasn't tired. He didn't need sleep, or to "take a load off." He rests because He is setting an example...for us.

The difference is: we were actually created to need rest. Not just To remember we are not the LORD. To entrust our lives and other's- both the weighty and simple areas to Him. To the One who needs no rest. Who is sovereign. Who is working. Who has a plan.

Last weekend I took some time to read at Starbucks. It had been a very full and unexpected week. I had become very overwhelmed by the number of things that had "not gone according to plan" and Josh and I agreed I needed to be better at resting. I sat down at Starbucks with no agenda. No errand to run afterwards, no "to do" looming over my head. I set everything aside, and opened the Word. In a matter of seconds, my heart was softening and changing. My perspective being altered and adjusted; my heart soaring with joy, hope, peace, anticipation, worship. I was sweetly convicted.

This type of rest and "retreating" away from life is something Christ did often in His time on earth. It is something that if neglected, renders the rest of my life essentially in-effective. I give poor counsel because my eyes are man-centered- therefore, I don't love others well. I do things out of obligation, responsibility, or without thinking, instead of delighting in the LORD in the vast array of creative ways He is meeting me or working in or through me. I feel far more responsibility than is mine. The list is endless.

The next day, as this idea had been on my heart, mind, and conversations, the LORD met me again.

Josh had just woken up from a Sunday nap. He came out of our room and was still sleepy- laying on my shoulder with his eyes closed as we sat on the couch.

"What can I get you, babe? Want something to eat? Drink? Do you need a foot massage?" My heart was ready and eager to serve him. To show him I loved him. To bless him.

He was really tired-- nearly falling back asleep, and there were long pauses of silence. I asked a few times. He responded with a smile, "Stop asking- I just want to be with you."

Oh, the sweetness of God's love was revealed afresh in that moment. In the same way my husband doesn't need or want me to "go do" something...even for his, the LORD wants that same intimacy of "being" with me un-distracted. He doesn't "just want me to serve Him." He wants my HEART.

It is good to serve. To be involved in our local church and the lives of those around us. To be committed to things that reflect the heart of Christ to a watching world. To be very intentional. To minister to people. To love them. To encourage them. To witness to them. To enjoy the Lord AS we do these things, and as we pray.

But there is something...about doing NOTHING but sitting with the Lord. For an extended period of time. To be like Mary who chose "the better portion."

The last week has been spent with much consideration about how to make this "getting away" something that is incorporated into my regular life. Until it is something that comes must be practiced. I currently am so weak, I need to almost make it a task: to force myself to put time on the calendar to "get away" with Jesus. For me, I can't be in our apartment. It is in many ways, my place of work. I have tried and tried and wanted to convince myself I can do it. But my life reveals...I don't.

So as I continue brainstorming and dialoging with others about how to grow in this discipline...I figured I'd share. We are in a very task-oriented culture. And I suspect there may be some others who could join me in needing a "refreshers course" on rest.

No comments: