“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29, ESV)
I hope you have had a great summer. The Fall of the year is quickly approaching. Kids in many parts of the country have returned to school. My kids are counting the days until they return in September.
It has been a busy summer for me. I feel as if I have hardly been home. I have been present with my congregation only two of the last six Sundays. I was away at our denomination’s National Youth Gathering in July.
In August, I took a sabbatical. I call it a sabbatical because it was more than a vacation. Our family spent a week in Upstate New York on Lake George.
We also made some time to get away to the Jersey Shore. In Jersey, you don’t go to the beach; you go to the Shore.
Then I spent a week doing nothing. I don’t have a picture of that, because I was doing nothing. But it was a blessing to have an extra week to rest and be renewed. We sometimes take vacations that we cram with so much activity that we never get time to rest.
I am thankful for the opportunity to create some great memories with my family. But I am also grateful for the opportunity I had to simply “be” and not “do.”
We wear “busy” as a status symbol. We make it part of our identity. We convince ourselves that we need to be doing something. I know that when I experience downtime, my mind often races through the things I feel I need to accomplish. It takes effort to resist the urge not to busy myself.
I know there are times when I have felt guilty for taking a nap or watching a television show. I considered those things to be a waste of my time. I tell myself that I need to be more productive. But being busy is not the same as being productive. In fact, being busy can work against being productive.
Sometimes, the most productive thing we can do is to take a nap. When we are always busy, it takes energy and attention from our most important endeavors. There are certainly times to be busy, but there is a time to rest. Our best work happens when we are rested. When we are tired and worn out, we will produce less than our best.
This is the way God designed us. This is why he created a day called the Sabbath. It is essential to build rest into our years, months, weeks, and days.
As I read the Gospels, I find it hard not to notice how Jesus makes it a point to rest. He often rested at the least appropriate times. When a storm was raging on the Sea of Galilee, and the disciples were doing all they could to keep from being shipwrecked, Jesus was asleep in the stern of the boat (see Mark 4:38). How could he do that at that moment in time?
A reason we don’t get adequate rest because we don’t think we can. We think there is too much that needs to be done. We think the storm is too great to do nothing. We miss the point that our busyness has no power over the storm. And we become worn out in the busyness of trying to control things we cannot control. Our busyness gives us an illusion of control even though we are not the ones in control. And there comes a time when we need to step back from trying to calm the storms we cannot calm and let God do this thing. Rest in him! Abide in him!
Faith is not trying to do more. It is letting God handle the things we cannot manipulate. Being too busy ultimately stems from a lack of faith. We wear ourselves out by trusting in our busyness more than in God’s greatness. God is greater than any storm. Your busyness is not.
So how about you? Do you get adequate rest? Do you suffer from a lack of rest? How do you ensure you get enough rest? How do you see your work suffer when you lack rest? How do you view the connection between faith and rest? Feel free to share in the comments.