On the phone with a friend a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about not having as productive a day as we had planned. So I called him a slacker. He came back with, “Yeah, we don’t get a Sabbath.” And that got my brain to going.
We think we have to constantly be doing something and showing progress. I say we. Maybe you aren’t like that. But I certainly am. If I have a day with nothing to show as progress somewhere, I end up disappointed in myself. Whether it’s some kind of housework, or work work, or writing, or whatever, I want to be able to see that I’ve accomplished something.
Don’t get me wrong. Being productive is a good thing. God wants us to be productive and to get things done. But He also instituted the example of resting. While the Bible gives us many examples of good men and women who worked hard, both for God and in their day to day living. But we are also given examples that we need time to rest, reflect, and renew. A passage most are familiar with is Psalm 23, about the Shepherd making His sheep lie down for rest and restoration. How many times in the gospels are we told that Jesus went off by Himself to pray and have quiet time. Even God Himself rested on the seventh day after creating the world and everything in it.
There are so many verses that talk about us finding rest through God. Jesus tells us that in taking His yoke upon ourselves, we will find rest. The writer of Hebrews tells us God wants us to rest from our work, just as He did. I also think about the lesson we heard at Winterfest, where Elijah found God in the quiet whisper, and about reading in Psalms, “Be still and know that I am God.” Sometimes it is hard to be still and quiet. I know if I am at home and try, there is always someone who needs something, or I see something that needs doing and I want to jump up and take care of it. And even if I don’t, most of the time it’s hard for me to keep my thoughts from heading in a hundred directions at once. I think that being still and finding renewal through God’s Spirit takes practice, and that the more we do it, the easier it will get. I’m far from an expert, but I know that the more I do it, the easier it comes. And the more I let myself get distracted, the easier it is to stay distracted.
A few months ago, I took a trip alone to the beach for two days. It is the first time I have ever been anywhere completely by myself. The first little bit I was there, I felt lost. I wasn’t used to not having a ton of people to take care of and do for, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. But when I tell you the weekend was amazing….yeah. I spent time reading, preparing for our ladies’ retreat I was in the middle of planning, and just sitting in the edge of the gulf and talking to God for hours. It was so much easier to allow myself to focus on God and my relationship with Him and what He wants from me when there were no distractions. It’s a trip I plan to make again periodically. Yes, I absolutely missed my family, and I know they missed me. But it was precious to get to spend time alone with God.
Maybe you aren’t where you can take a weekend to be alone. Maybe you don’t need to be completely alone – maybe you are better at blocking out distraction than I am. Maybe you could take a day, or even a few hours, and take a hike, or go to a park and sit and enjoy nature. Maybe you don’t like to be alone and want to spend time with someone special who you can either sit in comfortable silence with, or share your thoughts with. However you do it, make sure you are taking time to rest. Rest your body, your mind, and your soul.