What is Rest?
What do you think of when you think of “rest”? Your greatest vacation? Sleeping in? Napping when the baby’s napping? A relaxing yoga routine? A sandy white beach with a book in your hand? A scented bubble bath?
If you follow book news or are much of a reader, you may have noticed something. Over the last year, an incredibly large number of books have been published covering topics of simplifying, slowing down and resting. It seems to be a trend, but it is something worthy of noting. Why are we, particularly as an American culture, suddenly craving the simple things of life?
The answer should be pretty obvious as we are all aware of the busyness of our lives — the constant buzzing of phones, the irrepressible urge to instantly upload photos, the over-scheduling of our family calendars and so on.
So it’s only natural that we crave rest.
An extremely well-known (and esteemed) blogger, Crystal Paine, declared at the end of last year that 2016 would be her Year of Rest. You can find her Instagramming many aspects of it and regularly referring to it in blog posts, which provides a lovely example to millions of people of how this can be accomplished. She teaches her readers how to follow their own journeys to a slower, fuller life. It’s been inspiring to watch!
Many others I’m connected with regularly share articles on the topic of rest across multiple platforms. It’s a common concern and a frequently discussed subject.
But do you know the deepest part of why we need to slow down and give our souls rest?
Why We Need Rest
Oswald Chambers said:
“If you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come.”
And come they will.
If you’re living right as a Christ follower, you’re just about guaranteed to see those stressful days. Heaven is our final destination and this world is our test.
Chambers goes on to say:
“But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.”
We all crave rest because we’re human. Humans were created by God to need Him. We will crave rest until we fully rest in Him.
Jesus recognized the need for rest in Mark 6:31 and later said (8:36), “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” If this was so important to Jesus, we need to clue in as to why…
When certain things (or activities or people) are the main affections of our hearts, we will never feel completed. We will always be striving, looking, yearning for the wholeness that God can give when He is our main love. When we prioritize prayer and His Word and maintain it as the focus of our heart, our meaningless toil in life suddenly becomes spiritually productive, fulfilling and is bursting with purpose.
In response to the Martha story in Luke 10, Vicki Courtney said in one of my favorite books, Rest Assured:
“Jesus was not making a statement against serving, but rather emphasizing the importance of sitting before we serve. When we fail to make time for Jesus, we serve on an empty tank. Martha had allowed busyness to interrupt the one thing needed: time with the Lord. God created our souls for communion with Him. When we rush through our days and fail to make time to sit at the feet of Jesus, we experience unrest in our souls.”
Later, she said:
“When we fail to spend time with God on a consistent basis, it’s easy to forget who He is and how much He loves us.”
We yearn for rest because, at the core of our being, we yearn for Jesus. You and I need Him and we need the healing, peaceful rest He provides. We cannot bear the burden of this world without Him, we cannot conquer sin in our lives without Him and we cannot fully rest without Him. Vacations and bubbles baths are great (and I think totally allowed!), but let’s first strive for the soul rest, the Jesus rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” — Jesus