Sometimes, I think we can mistake a time of resting for a desert. Coming out of a season of chaos, the stillness and void of continually having something to do next can feel suffocating. The confusion of moving forward in life without a million things to drag us along can leave us wondering if we did something wrong a ways back. Is God still there? Did I take a wrong turn? Am I all alone now? Have I left His will? These questions can echo through our minds as we stop to look around where we now find ourselves. The stillness, something we have grown accustom to living without, only reiterates the void of not having something more to do and the feeling of emptiness.
Seasons of rest are nothing new. The Lord called the Isrealites to rest on a weekly and annual basis.
There are six days for you to work, but the seventh day will be a special day of rest. It is a day for a holy meeting; you must not do any work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your homes. (Leviticus 23:3)
Knowing the history of the Israelites, this idea of “rest” was a foreign concept to them. For four hundred years, this people group had been oppressed by slavery and now they found themselves being commanded to do the very thing they had only dreamed of: rest. It sounded nice, no doubt. A mandated time of lounging around and doing nothing – the very same thing they saw the Egyptians doing during their time in captivity. It no doubt seemed like a dream come true! But for a people whose entire lives could be described as continual, brutal labor, “resting” was a lot simpler said than done. Just as with every other provision gifted these chosen people, they grumbled, struggled, and bucked the directions given them, but that didn’t change the fact that their God – the One who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors – had instructed them to rest.
Times of rest have a way of coming across as scary. Those moments, no doubt God mandated for our individual lives, force us to slow down and come to a head with whatever is going on in our minds, hearts, and souls. As long as we are busy, we can ignore the nagging feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, hurt, anxiety, and whatever else is plaguing us. Busyness is kind of like a band-aid. We can apply it to the scars in our hearts and pretend they don’t exist, but eventually we have to deal with what’s there and these moments we are called to rest are the perfect opportunity to be healed.
The scary part about facing off with our scars is that in order to truly move on, we must place them in the hands of Jesus. His perfect hands, outstretched to you and I right now, require us to offer everything. It means we have to let go and be vulnerable. We have to lose control and allow Someone Else to take responsibility for the outcome of our lives. It sometimes means we are led to walk a road where we come face to face with our biggest fears and address issues in our lives that have been around for decades. This is what rest times are all about. They are calms within life’s many storms reminding us Who we belong to and Who we worship. These times aren’t so we can wallow away, binge watch Netflix, or take up a new hobby. These are times to get our minds back on track, listen for direction, and grow closer to the One who holds the world.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green pastures.
He leads me to calm water.
He gives me new strength.
He leads me on paths that are right
for the good of his name.
Even if I walk through a very dark valley,
I will not be afraid,
because you are with me.
Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me.
You prepare a meal for me
in front of my enemies.
You pour oil of blessing on my head;[a]
you fill my cup to overflowing.
Surely your goodness and love will be with me
all my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
- Psalm 23