The Power of Rest

Rest is countercultural. It challenges popular notions of busyness and productivity, of working and earning, of our value lying in usefulness. ‘Achievers’ often receive praise and accolades, and busyness is socially reinforced.

‘How are you?’ ‘Oh, you know, busy.’

‘I got a lot done today.’

‘Let me check my diary and get back to you.’

We overcommit, overschedule and overworry. We soldier on and power through. We push past the pain barrier. We strive, hustle and bustle. We are so focused on tomorrow we lose the power and beauty of today. And we keep on doing it. 

No wonder rest is countercultural. 

Rest is countercultural.

Rest is one of God’s attributes. He created the world and then took a day off. He stopped. He rested. When Jesus came to earth, he frequently took breaks from the crowds. He went on retreat. He got some alone time. He recharged. 

We can learn a lot from God’s example. He knew the importance of rest and he provides rest for us. Psalm 32:7 refers to God as our hiding place and Psalm 62:1 says, ‘Truly my soul finds rest in God’. Not to mention Psalm 23 (the Lord is my shepherd). 

And Jesus went off by himself after receiving news of the death of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13). He knew he needed that time away. We can learn a lot from Jesus. 

We can learn a lot from Jesus.

So how do we do it? How do we slow down and find that place of rest?

I have three thoughts on that:

  1. Book it in. Just like we book in appointments or schedule a holiday, book rest time. Incorporate it into your day or week somewhere. Cordon it off like a crime scene. Treat it as sacred. As important as your to-do list may be, your health and sanity is important too. Perhaps even more important. 
  2. Re-connect. If you have a hard time de-stressing, use something that helps you re-connect with your internal resting place. I use music and nature to help me re-connect with my innate ability to rest and recharge. Use what works for you. 
  3. Make it a habit. My first attempt to drive a car was woeful. I was all over the place–literally. Every movement was clunky and awkward. But these days, I can drive on autopilot. Sometimes I arrive at my destination unable to remember most of the trip. Such is the power of habit. The more you practise rest, the more natural and fluent it will become. 

Oh yeah, and we can ask for God’s help with resting. He knows how it’s done; we can ask him to show us. Lord, teach us to slow down; teach us to rest. 

We can ask for God’s help with resting.

Rest is not only good for our bodies and souls, it frees us to become more present in the here-and-now. It breathes light and space into our spirits. And it challenges the culture all around us, giving others permission to rest too. 

The next time someone asks me how I am today, I would love to be able to say, ‘Rested.’

What helps you to relax? Is it easy for you to find that resting place? What do you think of rest as an attribute of God? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

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