33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33)
No matter where you are on the spectrum of the “busyness” of life, you probably spend a fair amount of time going, doing and worrying — and, more than likely, you get very tired…mentally, physically, emotionally…or all of the above!
Well, I believe that God has called us to rest. Rest? What is that? The word itself comes from the Latin word restare which means remain. To rest means to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. To be still — remain. The Lord even says to us, “Be still and know that I am God.” He is telling us to rest! Slow down!
Sometimes I think we get so carried away with trying to make everything work, trying to ensure that everyone else around us is happy and taken care of, that we begin to step into God’s shoes. It makes sense, when you think about it, that we wind up getting so worn out. We become too reliant on ourselves! Instead, we have to rely on God, because when we begin to take on the cares of everyone else, we are stepping too far out in the water, and we start to go in over our heads.
Have you have ever been to the beach and waded out really far, only to reach the edge of the sandbar? It’s a sharp drop-off, and it’s scary. You’ve gone a great length out into the ocean, and you are thinking, “Ha, this is no big deal! Look how far out I am and it’s only up to my knees!!” You’re staring out into the distance thinking you could walk all the way out to the horizon…no big deal…until you step over that edge you didn’t see coming — you’re flailing your arms and gasping for air…and you never even saw it coming.
Another analogy that comes to mind is when you are running and your body starts to sort of get ahead of your feet — you feel yourself stumbling forward, and you’re struggling to keep up and/or find some sort of balance to it all so you don’t fall…or have to stop. God forbid we ever have to stop! Right? Well…sometimes we just have to stop…BEFORE we fall down…BEFORE we reach the end of the sandbar and have to be rescued. We have to learn to take a much-needed breather.
Something strange that I do, is that I hold my breath when I’m busy. I don’t even realize I’m doing it until I get a little light-headed and I have to take a big breath and sort of sigh. I have actually had people ask me what’s wrong because they think I’m sighing out of exasperation!
The thing about it is…I actually FORGET TO BREATHE! I get caught up in what I’m doing and I neglect to do something that keeps my body circulating and alive! How ridiculous is that? But isn’t that what we all do in a sense? We don’t take time to slow down. We neglect our bodies and our spirits when we don’t rest and simply breathe.
Friends, we have to understand something very important. We cannot be of use if we are all used up! We have to stop rushing around pursuing the things of this world. It’s distracting and draining us, making us weak. Any doctor or medical professional will tell you that the number one component of the healing and restoration process, the best possible way to strengthen oneself, is rest.
So what we have to do is stop. Stop trying to be perfect. Stop trying to gain and collect and impress. Be still. Breathe.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. (Galatians 5: 22-24)
It is a matter of crucifying our flesh. Not just parts of it. All of it. Yep…resting requires putting ourselves aside. When we are able to do that, to make time to seek Him and rest in Him, that is when we are able to live in His fullness. That is when we will see the evidence of His presence in our lives, and we will replace resentment with love, aggravation with joy, worry with peace, irritability with kindness, envy with goodness, disregard with faithfulness, short tempers with gentleness, and indulgence with self-control.
We cannot get lost in ourselves, in our spouses, in our children or any other part of our lives. Instead we must find ourselves in Him. We have to seek Him, learn His voice, and know who we are are called to be…as children of God. Let Him be the center of our lives, pulling us together when we fall apart, and keeping us anchored when things get out of control. Nothing else that we do matters if we don’t do that first.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the wisdom to know when it is time to rest. Help me to take time each day to lean against You and just breathe. Amen.