I recently took leave for the first time this year. You may think that staying alone in the suburbs for five days – while my parents were at a resort – would have been the most boring thing I could have chosen to do, but after a very busy season of shows and no weekends, it was absolutely amazing.
Well it should have been… I had dropped my car off for a major service. I had stocked up on food and had some cool books to read. The plan was to also spend a whole lot of time reading the Bible (something that I really enjoy doing. I don’t mind if you think I’m crazy). So I seemed to be set and ready to take it slow and be completely refreshed.
But another pastime of mine is being a couch potato. I am very, very good at it. And after subscribing to Netflix so I could watch series legally, that rest became less important than the next entertaining episode of Great British Castles or Luther.
Now you may think that I am being ridiculous, but one day into my holiday I realised that I have no idea how to rest. Let alone rest well. The fact is, I thrive off of the craziness and pressure of my daily life. I enjoy things that challenge my capacity to lead and be creative. So although being surrounded by silence was extremely refreshing, it was also a frustrating time for my soul.
I am a big fan of the hustle of life. I believe we were made to make a difference in the world, and the only way we do that is hard work. But you can only “go” for so long before your resources are exhausted – spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. So after ignoring the fact that I had no idea how to face rest for a day and watching ten hours (yes, ten hours) of series, I realised that I may need to learn what it means to truly find rest.
In my faith, I have found that the way you address the external issues of your life is by beginning with the internal struggles first. We live from the inside out – not allowing situations to affect us, so that we can have an effect on those situations. It is a biblical concept that had kept me going through all my crazy, so I started addressing the issue of rest by seeing what God says about it.
The first thing I read, was that God wants to lead us to rest. Rest is a strategic part of our lives that we need to be led in. Not resting is actually a form of disobedience. I realised that there were moments where I had been pushing for progress when it was actually time to lie down and chill for a bit. And that had affected me more than I was willing to admit at the time.
The second thing I read was that He restores my soul. There is no ten-step process. No quick recharge. It all stems from knowing God and allowing him to work with your life. Everyone knows we heal faster and more effectively from illness when we sleep. Rest is where God wants to deal with the “viruses” and destructive parts of who we are – “operating” on our souls. I found myself being challenged about emotions I simple bypassed in my business. There were things in my relationships and in my thinking that were really affecting me and my ability to function healthily. But it was only when I stopped for longer than a day that I could actually deal with the state of my soul and be restored.
The third thing I read was that God shelters us. He pulls us in and protects us when we need to rest. I realised I couldn’t rest well without first going for refuge. Everyone has areas in their life where they feel like they are out on a limb – those areas that challenge your resolve and make you question what you are doing. But there is no place for that in your rest! I really had to press in to God and not let the “questions of life” haunt me while I was allowing myself to be restored.
You may think these are pretty deep points coming from a momentary hermit, but I have been able to take them into my day-to-day life. For the past two weeks, I have rested more effectively than ever before and I have seen the difference in how I approach my responsibilities.
If the stress of life is really getting to you; if you genuinely believe that rest is just not part of who you are; if you are struggling to see how you could make it through today, let alone this week, then I want to firstly let you know you are not alone! I have been there. And even though my external situation and pressure did not change, allowing God to work with me in times of rest has allowed me to thrive. The only way you can rule the situation, instead of it ruling you, is if you rest well.
As I have said, true rest begins with – and is directed by God.