Because I think about rest a lot, and truly wonder what it would be like to fully engage in all its aspects, I wrote something down a few days ago that I think might help us practice this idea of rest.
Traditionally we think of rest as coming on the Sabbath Day. The day when we are supposed to stop but usually don't because it's our day to 'catch up' instead. So what if we practiced stopping at other times, too? And I don't necessarily mean scheduling our stops. Heaven knows the minute we put one on our daily planner someone will end up with a bloody nose, a fever, an item forgotten at home, or some other circumstance that requires immediate attention. I mean an 'unscheduled, scheduled' commitment to stop based on an ending.
Most of us I would assume have things that we are constantly working on or are desperate to have relief from. So what if we began to see Sabbath rest as the day the Lord gives us rest from what we have been enduring? What if it could be seen and celebrated as the moment relief came and in that moment we stopped our work and focused on God and all He had done from start to finish?
While that may seem like rest will never come, particularly if a circumstance is long and hard, we can include the practical, little ones, that take up more of our heart and headspace than we realize.
Practically speaking, let's say a cleaning project has been weighing on our minds that we can't seem to get done. Then one day, something is unexpectedly cancelled and we find ourselves with just enough time to complete the project. When it's done? We rest. We reflect on all the ways God delayed it, met it, fulfilled it, and opened our eyes to it.
Or, we could think about science fair projects in elementary school. From the moment they are assigned it feels like the end is both out of sight and looming ominously on the horizon. But again, once they are done, we can look back and see all the ways God intervened to help.....even if we did occasionally turn into something we swore we never would and still owe several people that we live with and interacted with in public massive amounts of apologies.
I can't help but wonder if we recognized rest and celebrated it in these little things if the practice would become so appealing and enticing that we did actually long for it and followed it the way God prescribed in the beginning.
I'm writing this now because I have just been given the gift of rest earlier than I expected. I knew that my time was coming to an end but the end came much sooner and more abruptly than I anticipated. And honestly, as much as it is welcomed, I am also lost. It feels like in some way that what I was finding a lot of purpose in was just ripped away. Believe me, it is for the best, but the loss remains.
However, if I were to view this as the rest I couldn't seem to practice before, I can see this all as grace. Grace to stop me in my tracks before I seriously hurt myself by taking on too much.
And there lies the reality. Rest is work because it takes practice to learn how to do it. We are so conditioned to be productive, we don't know how to just be.
I don't know what situation is present in your life that makes you desperate for relief, but I can tell you, even before it comes, there are glimpses of what that rest will look and feel like in other areas. And maybe if we can start to recognize those, we can start to see more of the gift God gave us long ago that we haven't been taking advanatge of and then start longing for the rest He gives in more ways than we realize.