”Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you” Psalm 116:7.
Rest…it’s an attractive idea. Something inside me longs to make room for rest. But in our work-oriented, results-driven culture, I think we often confuse rest with laziness. I know I did. When my life fell apart last year and I couldn’t keep pushing, Jesus showed me that I didn’t know how to rest. Not physically. Not emotionally. Not even spiritually. In the physical and emotional realm, a true day off was such a rarity – for me or for my family, as I constantly drove us to “get stuff done.” I often resented them (especially Hubby) taking time for fun and rest.
In the spiritual realm, I was puzzled by Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me (Jesus), all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” How on earth could this be true, I wondered? The Ten Commandments condemn murder, but Jesus added heart motives to the requirements and said hatred was just as bad. Coveting was equivalent to stealing, lust to adultery. So how could Jesus’ burden be light?
But oh, how liberating to realize that the Law was given, not so I could have a standard to try hard to live up to, but to point out my inability to do so. To show me the impossibility of reaching God’s perfection on my own. To lead me to Jesus, who perfectly kept God’s Law on my behalf and then went on to bear my punishment for not keeping it. (See Galatians 3.) Because He did this, a great exchange has occurred. He took my sin, and traded me for His righteousness. Now I can rest, because Jesus has indeed dealt bountifully with me. If that great exchange isn’t bounty, I don’t know what is!
When I see my sin, I can remember that it’s already paid for. I’m free to confess it and move on (1 John 1:9). It no longer defines or controls me. I’m free to rest in God’s full acceptance, to follow Him as He gently leads me beside still waters (Psalm23), to come boldly to His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). I need not be driven by fear and duty to keep on “doing” for God, trying to earn His smile or make up for my sin.
And this spills over into all areas of life. The physical work will never be done, but it’s okay (even best) to take time for rest and fun. In the emotional realm, I need to (my family needs me to) make room for the things that refill my soul. And in the spiritual realm, I have to choose to quiet my heart. This looks different for different people, and in different life seasons.
As a single person, my daily “quiet times” looked pretty predictable…a cozy spot to sit, maybe a blanket and candle, my Bible and journal – all at a designated time of the morning. It’s way less prescribed now, but still so essential. Yesterday, my “quiet time” happened at about 5:30am (a rare occurrence!) after being awakened by Little Man. I had lots of time to read my Bible and study. Today, I slept past the alarm and could only pry my eyes open after Hubby brought my cup of coffee to the bedside table. My Bible was in the living room and there was no way I wanted to wake up the troops by walking down the hall with only a few minutes til they got up on their own! But my ever-present iPhone was, of course, next to my cup of coffee, so I opened my John Piper Devotional app and read the verse and thought for the day. And my spirit rested. Rested in the amazing love and care of my precious God, who “acts for those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 64:4). Along with Dr. John, I rejoiced that “God loves to show His God-ness by working for me, and…His working is always before and under and in any working I do for Him.”
Sometimes choosing rest means playing the quiet game in the car so Mama can talk to Jesus since I’ve been running since my feet hit the floor that morning. Or reading from my Bible app when I have three minutes to myself. The point, I’ve learned, is not so much when or how I “do my quiet time.” It’s realizing that Christ IS my life (Philippians 1:21). This Christian life is meant to be lived WITH Him, abiding in Him all day long (John 15) – not just for a set amount of time in the morning.
So today, my friend, if you know Jesus, rest in Him. Spend the day with Him. Wait for Him to act on your behalf. Know that you are infinitely loved and treasured by the God who made you and cares about every tiny detail of your life and every care of your heart. He is that good, that dazzling.