by Rachel Sinclair
“I’m tired of running around like a crazy person.”
This response was the first thing that slipped out of my mouth when my mother asked the everyday “how are you?” question over the phone. Have you been there?
In many ways, we live in a society that thrives off of chaos. Give us more coffee, less hours, a bigger to-do list, a smaller budget, and we have a recipe for heroism. I don’t think most women start out with that mindset, but good intentions can easily give way to a growing ego.
I’m speaking from firsthand experience. I have always been a self-motivated go-getter, ready to finish this project well and jump ahead to the next one. We’re to work heartily unto the Lord, right? Yes, but that’s not the entire story.
I, like most Christian women, have generally understood that the motivation behind my work should be to serve Christ and not myself. What I haven’t always understood is that rest is an important, biblical practice that is necessary for following God wholeheartedly.
Lately, God has been teaching me several lessons about why rest is a necessity–not a luxury–for the Christian life.
Hard work is an important virtue emphasized throughout Scripture. However, sometimes I focus so heavily on diligence and discipline that a red flag goes up when I think about the term “biblical rest.” But biblical rest is a real thing!
The Old Testament often mentions God giving Israel rest from their enemies, referring to a time of physical, national peace. In Psalm, David talks about a different kind of rest, writing, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him” (Ps. 62:5). In the New Testament, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
There are countless other examples in Scripture, but my point is that rest is not a greedy, self-satisfying indulgence. God invites us into rest, and more specifically, rest that comes from Him.
Genesis 2:2 says that God rested on the seventh day after the work He had done in creating the world. It’s really mind-blowing when you think about it. God worked, then God rested, and He commands us to do the same. If the Creator of the universe participated in resting, why in the world (pun intended) do we think we can skip it?
Do you ever sit down to read your Bible, only to receive a flood of thoughts about errands to run, texts to send, and bills to pay? Everyday life has a way of demanding our attention right here, right now. If we want to be able to rest in Christ, we have to set aside time with Him even when it’s not “convenient.”
Jesus often withdrew from his environment to pray (Luke 5:16). If you think you have a lot of people demanding your attention, imagine how Jesus felt! Every day he was around people who desperately wanted an audience with Him, both in large crowds and within His inner circle of followers. Still, Jesus did not put other people’s expectations above His relationship with the Father. He knew that in order to best serve others, He had to be refreshed by spending time with God.
Yes, part of resting is being still and carving out time for reflection, but rest does not have to be boring. Some of my favorite ways to rest involve walking outside, doing a puzzle, playing my guitar, and attempting to bake a sweet treat. As an extrovert, I feel especially refreshed after a fun game night with close friends who know me well.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 says, “It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts.” We receive a reward as a result of good work, and we are to take pleasure in it. Don’t feel guilty about stepping away from work to experience life in ways that bring you joy.
I can light a candle, put on a facemask, and go to bed early, but if I’m not communing with God––abiding in Christ––my life is not where it should be. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”
Did you catch that? Without Jesus, we can do nothing. Through Him, we receive our life-sustaining nourishment that fuels us to accomplish the work God has set before us.
As you begin a new day, don’t view rest as a take-or-leave luxury. Remember that rest is a key part of maintaining a close walk with Christ, and do whatever is necessary to make it a priority.