I sat on the edge of the dock with my legs dangling off. My feet were flat upon the water as though I could step out on the lake at any moment. The space was calm. A slight breeze swayed the tree branches. The children found playmates with the pebbles, mud castles, and fish freshly caught. I sat there cupped in God’s nature with my heart racing. I was unable to be as calm as the water. After three days of being at the lake, I still didn’t know how to rest. For some, rest comes easy; for me, it feels like work.
I am good at being productive. I am good at being busy. I like the pressure and clock ticking and deadlines. Those powers energize me. I like using my imagination and managing people. But being here, at the family lake house makes me antsy. There is no place to be and nothing I have to do. I almost feel naked. I don’t know what to do when I have nothing to do. My body, mind, and soul need rest — I know this. But I fight rest with everything in me. Rest means wrestling with the deeper things I have been avoiding. When everything on the outside of me gets quiet then everything on the inside of me gets loud. It’s unsettling, and I want to run out on the water where my feet find ease. I want to run away from me.
I’ve taken the role as the “fishing supervisor” this vacation, and the children repeatedly bring me their tangled fishing wire. This task requires focus, patience, and gentleness. While fishing with children there are three things you won’t find: focus, patience, and gentleness. I send them off while I give all my attention to the massive knot they have managed to whip together. I’m tempted to yank and pull and throw the whole bundle of chaos away. But I wait. I slowly tug and massage the tangles apart. An unraveling begins. It doesn’t happen all at once. It is a process. If I get frustrated, the knot gets worse. If I take my time and use careful intention, the knot loosens.
As I slowly pull at the corner of the wire, I wonder if this is what God is doing within me. He is using focus, patience, and gentleness to undo the knots that have built up in me. Maybe that’s what rest is about. I’m coming back to God with my mess, and He uses love to untangle me. This renewing of my soul requires that I also practice focus, patience, and gentleness. If I fight back, more damage is done. But if I stay and allow God to care for my soul, my insides will loosen. I will be soft. God, in a literal sense, is a fisher of (wo)men. He doesn’t just catch lost souls, but He has compassion upon them and wants them to be free—untangled. For my soul to become untangled, I have to stop. I have to exhale. I have to rest.
Resting doesn’t come easy for me. I have to work at rest. I have to be okay feeling antsy and anxious just sitting at the edge of the dock. I have to feel the mess I have been avoiding. I have to look at the chaos and tangles and knots choking my chest tight. I have to let the outside beauty penetrate my inner storm. And God does this. He does this by gently untangling me one tug at a time. This time, instead of running, being busy, or avoiding, I stay. I let God do His work on my soul.
I want a lot of things in life, but one thing I desperately want is to be free inside. I don’t want hooks and wires mangled up inside of me, making it hard to breathe. I want to be fully present with the world, others, and God. The only way to be productive at anything is to learn how to rest — truly rest. At first, it might be painful. I’ll want to squirm and find something else to do. But when I give God space to tend to my soul, a beautiful freedom awaits me.
I need God’s help to rest. I need His grace to hold me as effortlessly as that dock. I am rocked and carried. God’s presence hovers over me like the trees bringing me shade. I need grace to not accomplish something. I need grace to let the tugging make me uncomfortable. I need grace to sustain me when rest feels like work. The truth is, rest is work. God is doing healing work inside of me. He is untangling and setting me free.