How well do you rest? That’s not the same as asking if you sleep well at night, though it may be part of it. But do you know how to rest? I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard in the last number of months exclaim how exhausted they are. I’m still learning, and considering the books that have been written on the subject this little article won’t be “exhaustive” (sorry couldn’t resist) but here are a few things I’ve learned about resting well.
God prescribed for us a day of rest; the Sabbath. For our purposes here I’m not concerned with a specific day of the week rather simply a day of rest. Typically I’ve seen two approaches to Sabbath. The more traditional approach has been to assume that Sabbath is intended to be a time to focus on God, so we plan and structure our day with meetings and activities, making lists of what can and cannot be done on that day. So much so that it becomes the least restful day of the week.
The other, more recent approach to Sabbath rest is to ignore it completely and see each day as on opportunity to accomplish something. There is a uniquely western attitude that worships productivity. Many of us feel a sense of guilt if we are not doing something clearly productive with our time. Neither of these are God’s plan for our rest.
The key to resting well is that we need to consciously and intentionally make room for God. To do this requires taking time for solitude and stillness. Very few of us know how to be truly still before God; to calm and quiet our minds and simply enjoy the presence of God. And we are not able to truly be still without solitude.
For many that’s a frightening prospective. The silence is as awkward as travelling in a car with a mild acquaintance. We feel the need to fill the time with conversation. Resist and instead learn the joy and wonder of the intimacy of silence. If God wants to speak that’s wonderful, but let him initiate the conversation.
I’m not suggesting you need to spend an entire day in silence, though occasionally that can be a wonderful experience. Sabbath or resting well also includes enjoying community, which is spending unstructured time with family or close friends. Taking time for play or recreation is also important. But the foundation of learning to rest well the way God designed is to on a regular basis create that space for him.