Got Rest?

Published May 18, 2015 by

Have you ever been so weary that you longed for a vacation with every fiber of your being?


That happened to me earlier this year. And then I was blessed with a weeklong trip with my family over spring break. And it worked wonders! Upon my return, I was restored and again able to concentrate and dream forward. It’s normal to want to just stay in the sunshine indefinitely, but near the end of a good vacation, I start to feel ready for the routine of normal life again.


What is that all about? Do our very bodies need the of rhythm of moving from normalcy to rest and back again? Clearly, yes. We need breaks. Human beings are not machines. We cannot endlessly repeat the same routines without diversion.


Have you ever been so spiritually weary that you longed for … something?


I have. And I have sometimes taken a soul vacation. A time of rest for my spirit. That can take different forms, but one of the loveliest is a silent retreat. (Does that make you say, “Oh, I could never be silent for even a couple of days!” Well, when you are soul-weary you can!) But a soul vacation might not be silent. It might be rolling up your sleeves and tackling a physical project as an act of love. For certain, a soul vacation includes stepping away from to-do lists and calendars. Listening to God rather than speaking. Being rather than doing.


What is that all about? Is it important to rest our souls? Clearly, yes. We need meaning. Human beings are not machines. We cannot go through life without reflecting on what has happened, and why, and what the future holds. We cannot go through life without wonder.


God values rest. For himself and for us. In fact, rest made it into God’s top 10. The fourth of the ten commandments is “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” If we hear that as a rule about sitting still and not having any fun, we have mis-heard the commandment. It is about our need for rest. Soul rest. If God rested, we must rest. We need soul rest so much that God commands it once a week. Not just an occasional “soul vacation” every few years – as helpful as that might be. Not just when we are on the edge of a breakdown. But every week. As part of our healthy routine. God put both blessing and holiness into the Sabbath.


So rest. Remember who you are. Remember who God is. Rest your soul.


Strangely, I think churchgoing folks are often in great danger of forgetting Sabbath. Especially those who do a lot of work in the church. Church life can be demanding. There are programs to run, events to plan, calendars to fill. But where’s the soul rest in that? How could our churches do a better job of inviting people to rest? Could you and I be part of the solution, part of a healthy church, by prioritizing rest? What might that say to a world that is harried and hurried? Might a well-rested person be a witness to the compassion and wisdom of a God who commands us to rest?


Try it out. Grab a Sabbath. When? Jews traditionally celebrate Sabbath on Saturdays. Christians moved Sabbath practice to Sundays. But maybe you work on Sunday. Sabbath is a time observed, not a particular day of the week. So do what works for you. Unplug for an afternoon. Read a Psalm. Pray aloud. Take a walk. See the wonders of creation. Sing a song. Gather with others to worship and to eat. Wonder. And BE.


I wish you rest. I wish you not only an occasional vacation from work to re-fire your passion for life, not only an occasional soul vacation for renewal’s sake, but regular, weekly soul rest to keep your internal life in working order. No one else will prioritize Sabbath for you. Do it this week. And see if you don’t find a blessing.

(This first appeared as a column in the Mining Journal newspaper, Marquette, MI, 5/16/16)

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