Some people rest well. I am not that person.
There are times in my life that rest seems to allude me. Like in the middle of basketball season and teaching and serving in the church. Even on a day where I might try to rest, a deep level of rest doesn’t come. I might nap. I might be able to quiet my thoughts for a bit or distract myself. But that’s just a momentary rest. It is not a clear the mind all the way down to the soul kind of rest.
Or life in Guatemala. Where each day is unpredictable. It is a restful place nestled in the mountains. But there is always the next thing to do and I am not a person that can quiet my brain from the next thing. I think ahead, brainstorm. I think of what has just happened, am burdened to pray for someone or what I can be doing to help with part of a project. On my Sabbath I will head to the mountain and sit in quietness and can quiet myself for a bit. But the rest doesn’t soak in. It isn’t permanent. As soon as I descend the mountain, the rest slowly disappears and leaves me longing for the next Sabbath.
As I’ve been back in the states, I’ve taken advantage of my time with others who have served overseas for decades and asked them, “How long do you have to be home before you can truly rest?” And I didn’t like their answers. Four months. Six months. Sometimes the full year that they were on furlough. Or I’d ask, “What did you do while on the field to rest?” And they’d chuckle and say, something like you just pretend to rest. There is no opportunity to rest on the field. To me having to rest is less restful than interacting and being around people sometimes.
But I have heard it said, “The greater the resistance, the greater the need.”
And I had plenty of resistance to the thought of rest. If resistance is any indication of a need, I decided to take the path of least resistance and obey (after a few weeks of resistance of course). I knew part of what God was asking of me was to rest during this summer . To do something out of my character. I wasn’t sure how to explain that or embrace it. But He has shown me, slowly, what the purpose of rest is.
And then I read this…. “ If we are going to consistently spot the hand of God in our lives, we must cultivate a quiet, unhurried soul in a noisy, busy world. Busyness can mask the soul’s emptiness for a season, but eventually the soul’s poverty is somehow revealed when we do not rest. God calls out of our busyness into divine inactivity. It is purposeful inactivity where we attune to His presence and enter His rest. Human inactivity is often escapism. Yet Divine inactivity is restful, reparative and restorative. These quick days of rest cannot bring the rest of the Spirit’s presence.”
And I read it again. With a desire to get what was being said about the purpose of rest. But even more, I read it because I had a thirst to see the hand of God in every aspect of my life. I thought about activity and inactivity. My desire in life is never to be inactive. But I do desire to rest. And as I compared the two, I realized that God has designed divine inactivity to reach our innermost soul. So that we can say…. It is well, it is well, with my soul.
And it as if when I said Yes to God, about being obedient to the rest, that He said Yes to rejuvenating my soul. It is not like me to not have a schedule. It is not like me to be able to be content with not knowing what tomorrow will bring. And it is not like me to just sit back and allow God to fill my days and ordain my conversations without any time of schedule making. But that is what he has called me to in this last month+.
Jim Elliot was a missionary who was killed in Ecuador years ago. And I admire the joy and boldness that surrounded him. One of his famous lines was, “Where ever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” When I look at Jim’s life, I see a man who was passionate about what God put on His plate. But I also see a man who knew the Presence of God. And knew how to rest. And so, whatever season God takes me through, I want to live it out without regret.