The Merits of Rest

I don’t know about you, but most days I feel like I have acres of things to do. Logically, it seems like resting would be antithetical to accomplishing the maximum number of things possible in a day, despite the fact that God commands us to do it. However, as I’ve been wrestling and praying through this concept of rest over the past couple of years, these two analogies keep coming back to me–lenses through which to help me see the benefits of rest. Maybe they’ll be as helpful for you as they have been for me.

First off, I’ve mentioned before that I take a Tai Chi class. I have been so blessed to be attending the perfect class for me–for starters, everyone in the class has moderate to severe health problems, so I blend right in. šŸ™‚ I also have been so challenged by some of the perspective shifts involved in Tai Chi… it’s all about doing more with less effort. Peter Ralston calls it “effortless power.” Here’s an exercise you can try to see what I mean: Face a wall, standing arm’s length away. Stick your arm straight out in front of you. Tense up all the muscles in your arm and shoulder. Eyeball where your hand is in relation to the wall. Now relax all those muscles and check where your hand is at. I have found the more muscles I can relax, the greater my reach is. This matters in a martial setting where you want to have greater reach when you defend yourself/attack someone. I have had to completely rethink my understanding of punches. I always thought you punched with your arm muscles necessitating tense arms. Now I’ve learned your punch packs a much greater wallop if you relax your muscles because then you have the entire weight of your body behind the punch and you can reach further.

Rest likewise increases our reach and our stamina. I see this every time my husband and I start thinking we can stay up late and watch a movie (i.e., every time we expect our kids to “sleep in”). Being tired the next day means I’m fussy and my brain is foggy. It takes more time to do my tasks and I tend to make more mistakes. Resting means we’re able to do more with less effort.

Secondly, I’ve also been thinking about how God carries us along through His plan, like a log being carried in the stream. Often I spend so much time worrying about the rocks in my path (and frankly, trying to swim upstream) that I lose sight of what’s important. Resting in God’s character and sovereignty allows me to chill out and trust Him to either steer me around the rocks or use them to alter my trajectory so I don’t miss out on something amazing.

Just like diligence plans and spends time on the things that are important, rest trusts God to take care of the things we can’t change, or the things we’re not supposed to be focusing on. The more I’ve meditated on rest, the more I’ve realized my lack of rest is a reflection of my unbelief–I don’t rest because I don’t want to let go. I want to monitor every detail of every thing that touches my life… and I want to do more than I should be doing–putting extra things on my to-do list. Frankly, I’m learning that not resting can be pretty exhausting.

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