Last week was a busy week. Maybe you can relate?! Nothing seemed to go as planned. Although tasks loomed before me, my scarce hours dwindled away as first one thing and then another happened that required my attention. Friday was my one day to redeem the week, yet by Thursday, its hours were dwindling too.
Determined to make the best use of the time I had, my morning was a flurry before I was off to my first meeting. A couple hours later and I was back home with 30 minutes to make use of before the next appointment. Pushing the limits of this 30 minutes, I waited until the last second to leave. This, of course, left me rushed as I answered questions and met needs for extra attention. Finally out the door, I felt like I was racing along to the next thing just in the nick of time.
I actually arrived exactly on time (without speeding!) and settled in to wait my turn. Instinctively reaching for my phone, I realized I had no service as I was between carriers for a couple of days. Then, I realized that in my haste to get out the door I hadn’t grabbed anything else to do. Not even a book to read.
As I was lamenting all the things I could (or frankly, should) be doing, I heard the dreaded words, “He’s running late.” Of course! Because isn’t that the way life works.
Scanning through all my to-dos tucked away in my head, there was absolutely nothing that I could think of to actually do. No way to be productive on this day where that was needed. I started to criticize myself for not planning ahead, for pushing the limits when leaving, for wasting the little time I had. And then I heard His whisper,
Just rest and be present. Forget about all you have to do and enjoy these few minutes of no demands.
So, with a smile playing on my lips, I settled in. I listened to the music playing and reflected on the words. I entered into light-hearted conversation and laughter. I let my brain be still of all that had been circling through it all morning.
And here’s the truth I was reminded of …
Rest is a Mindset
This means it’s intentional. Rest doesn’t come naturally or automatically. There’s always something to do, somewhere to go. We could stay busy for our entire lives, and still never get it all done! Rest isn’t a reward at the end of accomplishment. It’s a gift along the way.
This also means rest influences our attitudes and the speed at which we live. To rest is to pause, to breathe. It settles down into us and pushes out whatever else was there.
God knows when we need rest and will often offer us the gift of rest at unexpected times, like He did on this day. We do need to intentionally rest at regular intervals. But we should also accept His gifts of rest along the way, for He knows us better than we know ourselves!
Rest helps slow down the pace of our lives. It displaces the inordinate amount of information we take in every day. It reminds us again of what is truly important in life.
Rest is a State of my Soul
It’s easy for our souls to be in turmoil. Mine was in turmoil on this morning. Not because life was exceptionally difficult, but because it was so typical. Nothing was going as planned. I was feeling the burden of doing. My soul was anxious and driven.
The beauty, though, is that we can influence and direct our souls to a restful state.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:2)
Here the Psalmist calms and quiets his soul (his emotions, mind, heart, body). This is what God invited me into as I waited. To relax. To enjoy where I was. To find rest from all that was needed. To relax into Him even as a baby would with its mother.
It took some work those first few minutes. Work to push away the noise of everything that needed attention. Work to quell the anxiousness that had risen. Work to entrust my time to God. Work to relax and be present.
My soul can rest in any environment if I have done the work to calm and quiet it. It is an internal reality that is not dependent on external surroundings.
Rest is a Person
Come to me, all of you who are weary and over-burdened, and I will give you rest! (Matthew 11:28 Phillips)
The destination for rest is Jesus. The giver of rest is Jesus. Jesus IS rest.
He bears the burdens. He quiets the heart. He gives unexplainable peace. He calms the storms.
Rest always comes from interaction with Jesus in some way. It comes from turning over our concerns and burdens to Him. It comes from letting go of whatever we’re trying to control or figure out. It comes from receiving His strength and grace and sufficiency in return.
You can rest with Jesus in any environment as you exchange His strength for your weakness. You don’t need to be alone. You don’t really even need quiet. Resting in Him is, again, an internal reality that is not dependent on external surroundings.
I left that appointment with my mind and soul in a different state than I entered it. God had gifted me with rest, with Himself, in the unlikeliest of places. He used something as simple as the wrong SIM card in my phone to remove distraction and remind me that productivity and achievement don’t depend on me but on Him.
God can accomplish as much in one hour as He can in two. He made time after all. An hour is nothing to Him. In fact, if a thousand years is like a day, a single hour must be comparable to a single breath. When my time doesn’t go according to plan, I can entrust the moments to Him and let Him figure it out.
What are your unlikeliest of places?
- Kids going stir crazy inside during these cold winter days?
- A hospital room?
- A long wait in line at a store?
- Backed up traffic?
- Cancelled plans that leave you wondering what to do instead?
- A fussy baby?
Whatever they are, be on the lookout for God offering you rest in the midst of them. You can graciously accept His gift of rest, quiet your soul and look to Jesus. God can bring you rest in whatever place you actually find yourself.
Rest Doesn’t Have to be Long
Now, lest you think I was waiting for an inordinate amount of time, I was not. Glancing at the time once I got back to my car I was astonished to realize I had been inside for a TOTAL of 30 minutes. Ha! That 30 minutes included by actual appointment! I couldn’t have been waiting for more than 15 minutes. And yet that 15 minutes was so rich and full that it seemed like far longer than that (in a good way!).
Oh, and, everything got done that afternoon. Thirty minutes early, even.
You see, God knows what we need. He will look out for us if we will let Him. It doesn’t all depend on us, on you. You can trust Him. You can follow His promptings. You can accept His gracious gift. You can enter into the rest He offers.
Maybe this week you too will find rest in the unlikeliest of places!