Do You Need Rest?

If you need proof that we need rest, just ask ten people how they are doing. Many times, people will respond with “busy” or, “It has been another crazy week.” People may even say “good” then add “but busy.” How many times do you find yourself running to another cup of coffee or looking for a snack to stay awake? The reality is we are a very busy society. Even if our bodies are not that active, we are busy processing life events in our brains; all of this drains energy from us.

Why are we so busy? Why is it so hard for us to take the time we need to rest, reflect, and enjoy the present? Most of us push ourselves harder than we should; we say yes to too many things, we let our kids say yes to too many things, and we have no margins in life. Why do we push ourselves beyond our ability? Possible reasons could include: addiction to business, fear, illusion of success / faithfulness, over-ambitious, stress, over-emphasized work ethic, and worry.

Now, worry is something almost everyone struggles with. Have you ever taken time to think about why you worry? Why do you let things get you so anxious that you can’t sleep? I know when I worry, it is usually because I desire to control a situation that I have no control over. I worry when I try to make something happen by my own strength. Worry is fed by the illusion that I have some level of control over life situations. What worry really comes down to is that I am not trusting in the Lord. I am trusting and relying on myself to get things done, and not resting in the fact that the Lord is actively being merciful and loving in my life.

WHERE THERE IS TRUST, THERE IS REST

God says in Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” The context to this text is Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the LORD’s salvation, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you only need to be still.”

God is good and, like a good Father, He knows we need rest. In fact, He commanded it. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” To keep it holy means to separate it from work. God knows work can run us and start to define us. He commanded a day separate from the others so we can rest and separate ourselves. How can we rest for the Sabbath?

      1. We worship. In worship, our lives are renewed in His grace. Our primary identity, meaning, and value is reaffirmed as God’s beloved child. We are reminded of God’s great faithfulness. Not to mention the incredible benefit of gathering with other Christians who love and encourage.
      2. Reflection: One of my sayings is, “Going 6 days in the wrong direction is too long.” We need to reflect on our life. Are we living the life we believe God called us to? Is what I am saying yes to best for me? What is good that God is doing?
      3. Proflection: It is a made-up term, but it fits. We need to take what we reflected on and move forward with it. We need to make changes or commitments. Plus, we should plan out our week. Block out your calendar and put rest in there too.
      4. Recreation: The word says it all. We need to re-create by actively engaging in some form of recreation or physical activity that can make us feel refreshed. In fact, exercise gives us a greater energy and capacity to handle life. My favorite recreation is bike riding. I often say, “Just give me 20 minutes.”

Here are some more ways to rest. Passive rest includes taking power naps from 6 to 20 minutes in length, or REM naps that are 90 minutes plus. Some of the best advice given to me was to take a power nap instead of the afternoon coffee. It is better for you and it feels great. You can also engage in active rest which includes Physical: deep breathing and stretching; Mental: meditation, gratitude, soothing music; Social: family, friends; and Spiritual: prayer.

5 Tips to Make Rest a Priority

      1. Commit to sleeping 7 – 9 hours. Health benefits of sleep kick in around 7 hours.
      2. Develop a routine for sleep and start it 30 minutes before your set time.
      3. Turn off screens 1 – 3 hours before sleep. This lowers the endorphins in your brain so it can rest.
      4. If married, ask if your spouse can be on the same schedule. This practice is also very helpful in building your bond in your marriage.
      5. As you lay in bed, put every muscle to sleep by flexing it and then relaxing it. Start at your head and work down to your toes. Do this each night and you will never make it to your toes.

Take it a step further and read Psalm 118. Enjoy His rest!

1Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

2Let Israel say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
3Let the house of Aaron say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”
4Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His steadfast love endures forever.”

5Out of my distress I called on the LORD;
the LORD answered me and set me free.
6The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
7The LORD is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

8It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in princes.

10All nations surrounded me;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
11They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
12They surrounded me like bees;
they went out like a fire among thorns;
in the name of the LORD I cut them off!
13I was pushed hard,a so that I was falling,
but the LORD helped me.

14The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
15Glad songs of salvation
are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the LORD does valiantly,
16the right hand of the LORD exalts,
the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!”

17I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the LORD.
18The LORD has disciplined me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.

19Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.b
23This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25Save us, we pray, O LORD!
O LORD, we pray, give us success!

26Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
27The LORD is God,
and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!

28You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God; I will extol you.
29Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!

by: Rev. Jason Scheler, Mission Executive of the LCMS Southern District

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