Recently, Filipe and I had the chance to get away. Grandparents took on kid-duty, and we cleared our schedule and booked a hotel up in the North Bay. There was only one thing on our schedule those three days- REST. Coming out of a busy summer, it was a needed reprieve.
But allowing ourselves to rest isn’t always easy. In fact, at first, I still fought the pressure to fill our schedule with activity (running, hiking, sight seeing, etc.). The activity could be put more in the fun category, but it was still activity nonetheless. It didn’t take me long to realize, it was the activity that I needed a break from. I needed time to simply do nothing- with no clocks to tell me where to be when. While I knew I needed it, my mind still struggled to break away from the guilt of doing nothing.
In John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping, he talks about rest like this:
But when your soul is at rest, it occupies the throne of your life. Your will is undivided and obeys God with joy. Your mind has thoughts of truth and beauty. You desire what is wholesome and good. Your body is filled with appetites that serve the good and with habits that lead you into excellent living.
Isn’t that so powerful? Rest is so much more than not doing work (however we define that in our lives). Rest leads us to do things in our lives beyond what we could place onto our earthly to-do lists.
Rest brings our entire body, soul, and mind into harmony. Rest is what allows us to face the deadlines at work, the rebellious toddler (or teen) at home, or the underperforming coworker on our team all while still remaining faithful to who God has called us to be and to lead others to do the same.
Rest is what gives us the courage to dream new dreams, take bigger risks, and confront challenges without getting our feet pulled out from under us right when it counts. Rest is what keeps us connected with ourselves and with God.
John Ortberg continues saying,
Whether with an entire day, or periods of time set aside every day, your soul needs rest. Not a change of scenery, or a spiritual retreat- those are fine and may contribute to rest. But to remain healthy, our souls need solitude with no agenda, no distractions, no noise. If someone asks you what you did in your “time apart,” the correct response should be, “Nothing”. Doing nothing does wonders for the soul.
This perspective of rest is currently what gets me through the week. Being a full-time mom to five kids, I’ve had to strategically arrange my time so that my soul is at rest periodically throughout the day and the week. Moments of solitude in the early mornings help me greet my kids with a little more love and patience. Moments of silence in the early afternoon help me face whatever challenges my kids will likely bring after their full day at school.
And while I still struggle with pangs of guilt here and there about needing to do more or not doing enough, I’m fully aware that the enemy would love nothing more than to get me overloaded with too much causing me to neglect those who are most important right now.
For so many of us (myself included), we’ve come to associate activity with success. The more we do, the more importance we place on ourselves. But what if spiritual maturity looks more like doing less, not more?
John Ortberg writes this:
The capacity to do nothing is actually evidence of a lot of spiritual growth. The French writer Blaise Pascal wrote centuries ago: “I have discovered that all the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact, that they are unable to stay quietly in their own room.” In solitude we liberate ourselves from the pressure of the world. You don’t do that by going into solitude with a list of things you want to work on. You don’t even approach solitude with the expectation that you will come away with some deep spiritual insight. It’s not about what you’re dong to do; it’s about what you’re not going to do. In solitude you rest.
Most of us could use a little more rest in our lives in some capacity. What are some areas you in your life you might need to readjust so you can have a healthier soul? From our rest we work, not work so we can rest.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul…” Psalm 23:1-3
If you’re interested in learning more on the topic, check out John’s book, Soul Keeping, here.