Written by Holly Madden, Director of Chapter Development.
Confession: This month’s topic was HARD for me. I learned not only that I really don’t like being told that I should rest, but I also don’t rest well. I am busy and I love that my schedule is full of people, meetings, workouts, and barely enough time for sleep. Our busyness is both our outlet for doing good and serving God, but it is also an excuse that keeps us from our knees and from God’s gentle instruction.
As I’ve intentionally scheduled time for rest this month and disciplined myself to stay away from my to do list and my cell phone, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I hope they encourage you and challenge you as they have me.
1. In Rest, I’ve been reminded just how BIG God is. He continues to work even when I stop. He honors by rest by multiplying my effort when I do work, and he increases not only my energy but also my motivation when I choose to spend time with Him removed from my schedule.
2. Resting allows me to decipher between God’s “do’s,””wait’s,” and “delegate’s”. My schedule is busy all of the time, but when I take time to rest, it is often the only time that I get a clear picture of what God is calling me to do, what He is calling me to simply pray about and what He is giving me permission to pass on responsibility to someone else.
3. Last, as Christie Love shared in our monthly teaching video, rest is trust. It has taken a lot of discipline to rest and not engage in my to do list, or secretly knock out a few work tasks. But taking time to rest is really communicating that God is sovereign, good, omnipresent, and we can trust that He has it all under His control.
Rest is one of the most overlooked promises and commands in Scripture. Our society has marketed rest as a pastime for the lazy and somehow made rest seem like it represents weakness instead of discipline.
- God promised Moses while in the wilderness that, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).
- In Hebrews, it is explained that disobedience leads to a lack of peace and unrest, writing from the perspective of the Israelite’s disobedience that prolonged the rest that they would find in the promise land, “So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall short” (Hebrews 4:11).
- Jesus commanded, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
- Many of the great leaders took time to rest and to pray before they acted. Nehemiah wrote that, “for days I mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4), before he went to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.
- God himself rested after creation: “and on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested…”(Genesis 2:2).
- And Jesus modeled rest in His ministry on earth, “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer” (Luke 5:16).
Whether it’s for 5 minutes or for an entire day, take time to rest. Give God your anxious thoughts, your fears, your frustrations and enjoy His presence. Surrender your schedule, the needs of the children or the people in your world, and the list of daily tasks to Him and choose to focus on how big God is instead of what you are capable of accomplishing today.