Back in July of 2006, I did something I could not have imagined myself ever doing. I went on a cruise. We sailed out of Port Canaveral in Florida, and then headed down to Cozumel, MX, then on to Belize City, then over to Costa Maya in MX, then to Nassau in the Bahamas. It was a decadent experience, but it was fun. But I have to say I was glad to return to the world of routine and service to the Lord, free from the buffet lines of a cruise ship. I got very full. Way too full.
What can be gained from a time like that? Well for one, learning how to properly rest is a very important thing. In our frenetic, fast-paced society, we have far too little real rest. Rest is recuperation. Rest is revitalization. Rest is restorative. Rest provides perspective. Rest is a regrouping process. Rest is therapeutic. Rest is the non-activity or activity that accomplishes these ends. Rest can even include the absence of noise.
Many times in the past—when on vacation—I scurried around thinking that I needed to get in as much “fun” as possible. Driving here and there, doing this or that, I’d oftentimes have to come home and rest from my “rest.”
Consider the best Biblical definition or description of rest that I’ve been able to find in the Bible:
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:10)
That’s it! In the context of Hebrews, God is talking about the ability to stop trying to earn God’s favor. It’s the cessation of works which we think are meritorious (i.e., that “earn” our grace). Biblical rest is trusting wholly in Jesus Christ, and in what He has accomplished for us in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, exaltation, and High Priestly ministry. It is the utter reliance upon God, with nothing coming from ourselves as a source of rightness or wholeness with God.
Taking that principle in the direction of how we should go about this business of resting, the implication is that we stop trying to do. We just are. We end our own efforts and we just settle down into a state of solitude, into a posture of peace. We trust God, knowing that it’s His will that we get restored, healed, rejuvenated, etc.
How much rest do we need? Well, the Bible teaches that a weekly dose is the minimum. One day a week. But then there are other periodic opportunities we can also take advantage of during any given year. Vacations, longer weekends, just about any time that God gives us.
As we remember rest’s purposes—and as we focus on and trust in the Lord to fulfill those purposes in our lives—we’ll be strengthened for the battles and ministry ahead of us. This is the time to serve the Lord! We need all the strength we can get. There are six other days in each week in which fellowship with God, life, service, family, struggles, trials, joys, and sorrows take place.
I’m trying to learn how to live in the moment. Trying to learn how to “be” where I am. Trying to learn to soak in the power and grace of God Himself. Trying to not have to be accomplishing something all of the time.
I must be making some progress … the other day after a busy morning at church I found myself in the kitchen with my wife. Nothing was on the immediate schedule, and I was able to just chill out. I was resting. I liked it.
Hi, Bill – knowing you and your personality helps to make your take on rest a little more meaningful. Do you think that personality type has something to do with the ability to rest and ‘get away from it all’? You’re a Type A personality. Last time I checked, I am a Type C- personality. It seems that the Type A personality has a more difficult time ‘resting’. Or is it mainly a matter of spiritually grasping rest? What do you think?
Yes, I do think that personality type plays a big part in the kind of rest that gets away from it all. I find it hard to stop my mind and shift into mental/emotional neutral. But as you say, I think it has a lot to do with how I’m wired. It’s getting better, though (I hope … I think).
As far as Biblical rest is concerned, a la Hebrews 4, I don’t think personality type is a factor at all. A “Type C” man can rely on himself just as severely as a “Type A” man. Grace is an experiential stranger to such a one.
What do you think? Back at ya!
I think I agree with you!
My wife and I went on a 4 day cruise a little over a year ago. It was the week following her last finals in nursing school, and it was truly the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever had.
I’m sure like you, I have a hard time shutting my brain off, and having iPhones and iPads and MacBooks and the like is no help for that. But while we were out on the ocean, our cell phones didn’t work and we didn’t bring any iPads. Although there is a lot of stuff to do on one of these things, more than anything we caught up on sleep. It was very nice. We’ve been talking about doing another 4 day deal in the fall. It’s a good thing.
When thinking of rest I always come back to two of my favorite passages…
Matthew 11:28 ~ Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Hebrews 4:11 ~ Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
I love that Hebrews 4:11 says “Labor to enter into that rest.” Seems like a paradox, but I’ve certainly found that it often takes work for me to enter into rest.
Thanks, Miles. I can fully relate with your comments. I had the same experience. NO INTERNET! I went through withdrawals.
My wife recently asked me if I’d be willing to leave my technology at the office, except for my iPhone. It’s been a few weeks now. Wow, what a difference it’s made in our time together. Now I’m having to re-learn “rest” while at home. It’s been good for us, but not without a significant learning curve on my part.
I love those passages too. And I too have been struck by the seeming paradox of Hebrews 4:11. It’s work for me too.
Technology is a double-edged sword. It can make certain tasks take less time, but often multiplies the tasks can/need [to] be done. My wife is regularly keeping me in check, which is a good thing, and not just with the techno toys, but my brain. I can’t seem to shut it off from thinking about the “many things” that “should” be done.
This last week I’ve been struck [again] by the simple message Jesus gave to Martha when he said, “You are worried about many things, but one thing is needful.” I know that the one thing in that passage was Mary’s focus upon the Lord at that moment, but what has struck me this week has been the “many things” verses “one thing.” It is very easy to become consumed with the many things that MUST get done, and miss the one thing you’re working on in the moment.
I think one of my biggest failures is to see the one thing I’m doing in the moment as my worship unto the Lord in that moment. I can fly through 30 tasks in a day and never actually do 1 Corinthians 10:31…
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
…God, help me not to lose You in the minutia of the many moments in my day.
I don’t like this comment thread! Far too convicting as iEverything + Internet creates for great effectiveness and wastefulness all at the same time! Most of us that are type A’s and love to charge. I am horrible at taking Sabbaths…one of my greatest sins. Again, thanks Bill and Miles for convicting me! 🙂
You’re welcome, I think. It wasn’t my intention to convict you though! I was just sharing my stuff.
We do need to provoke each other in these areas, though … don’t you think? I know I need a band of brothers!
It’s good stuff!
If God judged Israel as severely as He did for failing to rest, then He is pretty serious about rest… far more so—to my shame—than I tend to be.
Our Women’s Bible study this week, was on this very topic… Great thread here, could be the Lord is trying to tell me something to 🙂
I know what it is…. I need to take a cruise!