With calendars that are bursting at the seams and to-do lists longer than a prescription side-effect warning label it seems that taking time to rest is not only impossible but foolish, indulgent and frivolous. Rest is for the other guy, a luxury we just can’t afford. We are forever tethered to our phones, our computers, our calendars. Even if our bodies find a moment’s rest our minds never do: Netflix binges, retail therapy, another drink to numb the pain all fruitless efforts to find relief.
As I type this my soul is aching for rest. Just a moment where there isn’t something demanding my attention, but that’s not life is it? Perhaps a few seconds where I’m enough and I don’t feel the need to be more, but that’s more of a fantasy than reality. I’m a busy person, I do have a lot on my calendar but I don’t hate that. What keeps me in unrest is my constant striving to be more than I am. I so desperately want to be accepted and loved for me, just the way I am and that leads to struggle and frustration.
My entire life has been marked with an underlying hum of self-hatred. Countless birthday wishes spent on ‘make me different’, ‘make me not so me’. Add to that the fact that I know I’m not suppose to feel this way and the war in my mind never ceases. Some days, weeks, months even I’ll feel differently but the land mines of mistakes and misunderstandings are always waiting.
How does a girl who loves Jesus reconcile this? How does she find rest in the mess of emotions and pain? I wish it were easy, a simple – say this prayer, recite this verse – and everything falls into place. What I have found is this is all out war. The enemy wants us to stay tangled up in ourselves. What others think of us, what we think of us – He doesn’t want us giving a moment’s thought to what God thinks of us. And when the voices in your head are screaming at rock concert decibels it’s hard to hear anything else.
When you’re in a war you have two choices, 1) lay down and die or 2) fight like hell. I definitely have moments where I really like option 1. It appears restful (laying down? Sign me up!) and it’s easy. (It’s not hard to lay like a bump on a log.) Option 2, now that takes work. (I thought this was suppose to be rest!) In war you get hurt, you get knocked down, you may even feel like you’re going to die. So how in the world could we ever find rest being at war?
War is all about tactics, having a plan, knowing what moves to make and when. If we’re trying to figure all of these things out on our own we’re going to be defeated before we even hit the battlefield. The good news is we have One who knows the enemy’s every move and knows exactly what we need to do to be victorious. He knows when to move and when to wait, when to be silent and when to let out a battle cry. This, right here is the rest we need. To know that we don’t have to figure it all out, He already has. He goes before us and He leads the way. When we stumble, He waits with us helping us up and even carrying us to safety. When we jump the gun He gently brings us back and teaches us the practice of patience. When we’re weary, injured and frightened He sings over us, comforting and healing our brokenness.
I’m not a lay down and die kind of girl. I’m a fighter through and through. I have my moments that are dark, so very dark and painful. But the hope of Christ is alive and well in me and it’s because of that that I can’t quit. I refuse to quit. I’m going to tuck myself into the shadow of my General and I’m going to put my laser focus on Him and allow Him to help me across the battlefield. I’m going to tune my ears to His voice, doing everything I can to not miss a thing. If I can learn this and live this then I can rest in this.
You see, we think we don’t have time to rest when it’s by taking the time to rest that we find time for everything else. Resting in the finished work of the cross, resting in the knowledge of God’s love for us. Resting in who we are and that God has a very real, very good plan for our lives is how we let go of the frivolous battles, stop wasting energy on the wrong things and are able to deal with the right things.
The enemy wants to distract us from our calling and our purpose, he desperately wants us to miss God’s plan. He wants us to be exhausted from wrestling the demons of self so that we have no energy to enforce the victory of the cross. If he can keep us on the comparison treadmill or the self-doubt marathon then we’ll never have the strength to go deeper with God and live out the dreams He has for us.
You think you don’t have time to rest, I say you don’t have time not to. Being able to rest in God means you’re going to have to spend time with Him, digging into His Word, talking to Him and listening. You have to know what He says about you and what He’s saying to you right now. Then and only then will we ever find true rest for our souls.