The Importance Of Rest
Updated: Sep 22, 2019
As a 20-something, life only seems to get bigger and more uncertain each day. With my first leap into the depths that is the “real world,” I desperately tried to build up a façade of control to cope. I found myself under the impression that my calculated steps were what could save me from life’s relentless chaos. I was searching—for an undeniable passion? A prosperous career path? A healthy relationship? Something certain to create and preserve my contentment and give me rest in a chaotic world.
Long story short—that didn’t work out well. Through my attempts to shape life’s circumstances
into something that would give me what only God could provide, I was positioning myself for a
mess of confusion and anxiety when my façade of control crumbled. And, as life goes, my
façade crumbling was something I most definitely should’ve anticipated. Because, at the end of the day, there’s a whole lot of uncontrollable in my world. And, even if I am in a place where I feel like everything’s pretty O.K., my circumstances ultimately can’t provide the true
contentment and rest my soul longs for.
You see, no matter how much control I attempt to exercise over my life, each morning there is an unforeseen threat that everything might go horribly, awfully wrong. Despite what some might lead you to believe, there’s no promise that making the all “right” decisions will lead you to a happy, easy life. Your hard work won’t necessarily pay off in your career. Your kindness won’t necessarily be returned. Illness and disease don’t necessarily spare the healthy heart. Broken men do horrible things to incredible people. I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but we do live in a fallen, turbulent world. And so it goes, if I’m turning to the world to find my peace and
contentment, I’m in for a lot of disappointment.
The Little (g)ods
My circumstances became my god in the sense that I was relying on them for that which only
God could provide. When we associate the goodness of our God with the quality our
circumstances, God is no longer God to us. The god of our lives becomes our finances, our
relationships, our health, our leaders. And perhaps, in our attempt to control these things, we try become our own god as well. Regardless, we find ourselves looking in the wrong places for the things we desperately desire—hope, peace, rest, assurance, contentment.
The thing is, these earthly gods, no matter how much I wrestled with them to be otherwise, were ever-changing and victim to the consequences of the fall just like me. So, the contentment that I tied up into my circumstances was constantly subject to life’s riptides. The rest I so desperately worked towards never came. When things were good, I felt great—but always on edge. When my circumstances shifted, as I was afraid they would, my contentment was lost. I was tiring myself trying to find peace and rest in the world—tiring my mind and soul attempting to position myself in a place of power over life.
The One Who Stays the Same
I was wrestling with these earthly gods to give me something they were never created to provide. Change in the world—it’s inevitable. And controlling its uncontrollable's, by definition, is impossible. Yet, amidst His ever-changing creation, our Creator remains the same (read Hebrews 1:10-12). And in looking beyond creation to our Creator—that’s where we can find the rest our souls ache for in the midst of life’s chaos. The simple call to be still and know that He is God (read Psalm 46:10) is our reminder that He is where our salvation, our hope, our strength, and our rest can be found—not within ourselves or our circumstances. Not our finances or our careers. Not a single one of the billion wandering souls seeking to make sense of the chaos just like we are. Not even our church nor our pastors.
Through His grace, He is where I’ve come to know my peace, rest, and contentment can be
found. We don’t have to wait for the eye of the storm to pass over us to find the rest we desire. Yet, staying in His peace, rest, and contentment takes conscious, daily decisions to be still—to enter in his presence and loosen the grip on our life.
Here are three opportunities I take throughout the day to be still and remind myself of His
goodness, grace, love, and faithfulness:
1. Commuting: Before the stress of my circumstances gets the chance to set the tone of my
day, meditating on His word helps me position myself in His strength and guidance. Here
are a few of the songs currently in rotation on my morning commute, each one centered
on resting in Him:
- Not in a Hurry by Will Raegan & United Pursuit
- Rest in You by All Sons and Daughters
- Slow Down by Jonathan Ogden
- In Your Midst by Allie Paige
- Take This Slowly by The Gray Havens
2. Creating: Whether it’s actually picking up a paintbrush or simply watching a sunset, both
creating and admiring what He’s created have always brought me to a place of rest. I’m
able to be still, listen, and meditate on His character.
3. Centering: Throughout the work day, I’ll take a few minutes here and there to go on a
walk around the block and re-center my thoughts on Him. On crazy days where that’s
not possible, sometimes it’s just as simple as closing my eyes to take a breath and remind
myself what’s important and who’s in control.
When I keep God at the center of everything, even though the desire to grip tight on the wheel of my own life may still tempt me, I only need to be still in His presence to be reminded where my hope comes from. I have a good Father who extends His glory to me—His victory over the world and all of its chaos (Read Romans 8:17).
This week, what are some ways that you enter in His presence to experience rest?