Two months ago, many of the contributors and team behind (in)courage gathered for our annual retreat, and this year it was on a beach in Cancun. While we are all writers, during our time together only a few of us wrote or worked or social media-ed. Instead, we rested. We talked deep. We laughed big. We ate well. We slept hard. (Some of us slept so hard that we kept our poor roommates wide awake at night with our deep sleep snoring. Ahem. Sorry, roommate.) We sat on the beach, toes in the sand and frozen drinks in hand and books on our towels and palm trees overhead. We read. We swam.
Now. I’m a mom of three kids age five and under. I work from home. In my real life, I am un-showered and probably wearing something I picked up off the bedroom floor. If I get four uninterrupted hours of sleep in a night that lasts until 7 a.m., I’m doing pretty good.
Is it my norm to escape to a sun-drenched beach for rest? Um, no. My norm is three minutes to myself in the bathroom. That’s actually a banner day, right there.
But I have to admit – gathering together with dear heart friends at a resort awakened me to my rest deficit.
Because I forget. I forget that He calls us to peace, to a deeper sense of calm. He calls us away from hustle and bustle. He calls us into rest. And it’s pretty countercultural right now to have white space on the squares of our calendars.
All throughout Scripture, God is revealed by, found in, and caught escaping to quiet. He models for us, for our very busy-doing-all-the-things-selves, how to embrace rest. Real rest. The kind that allows us to catch our breath, to laugh, to feel peaceful.
I don’t rest like Jesus did. I don’t even try. Since I can’t run off to the spa or the beach or take a nap, I don’t even try to rest, which is so backwards! Rest does not need a beach or a spa. Rest doesn’t even need a hot cup of coffee or a nap (crazy, I know, but true.) Jesus shows us how to accept rest, and it’s vastly simpler than we make it.
The way I see it, we need to do these five things to find and accept, as Jesus did, the rest that God offers:
- Run toward rest. It will never, ever run toward you. You need to chase it down, believing it to be as important as it is.
- Make time for rest, no matter what else is pressing. How many times were the disciples looking for Jesus, only to find Him alone in the quiet with His Father? Jesus had His priorities straight, no matter what was kept waiting. Others didn’t always see it that way, but we have the benefit of seeing the whole story and we know: Rest first. Serve second.
- Search out restful places. This could be the car, parked in the driveway after a Target run. This could be in the shower. This could be while you’re still in bed, before the grind of the day finds you. Jesus sought out places of rest that were within sight, within the path of His day, and then walked towards them.
- Seek rest diligently, faithfully. This is not a one-time deal. This is an over-and-over, seek-it-daily kind of search. Thankfully, His rest isn’t a one-time offer, either. The promise of rest and God’s presence in Exodus is available at any time, in any place. But we do have to seek it (see #1) and we have to do so diligently, consistently, often, faithfully.
- Create moments for rest amidst the to-dos. Make it work for you. Squish it in and around the regular happenings of your day. Pray in the preschool pickup line. Talk to God while waiting in the grocery checkout. Write the Word during your lunch break. If you don’t make rest a part of your normal days, the benefits won’t find you either.
That’s it. These are ways we can find and embrace rest when there’s not one sandy beach in sight. Jesus was a pro at seeking and finding His Father’s presence, then embracing the rest offered. We can be too if we’re really intentional about it. Let’s be purposeful in the ways we rest — nope, scrolling through Facebook in bed doesn’t count. His presence is worth any FOMO we may have.
We can do this, sisters, and we will be all the better for spending time and resting in His presence.