Every week I attend a particular meeting with a woman I admire. At the start, we exchange our pleasantries, and I often ask how she’s doing. Without a second to think, she answers. “I’m ducky,” she says, unsurprisingly. Her answer is always the same. Ducky? I had no idea what that meant until she explained. On the surface, she looks pleasant, composed, even graceful, like a duck above water, but beneath the surface, she’s paddling like crazy, trying to stay afloat.
“Do you rest?” I asked her one day. Her answer reminded me of people who use the expression, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” She said, “I rest when I sleep.” Not a very good answer, but one we can all relate to at one time or another.
There’s no denying that life is work. We have to work for money; money that allows us to provide ourselves with the essentials and non-essentials. Even before modern capitalism, families and tribes worked, tilling the land so that they could have shelter, food, and water. These days we can find comfort in a 9-5, but even that can feel like a lot sometimes.
Add on top of that our relationships, recreations, and other things, and the outcome can be anxiety-inducing.
On the opposite end, being busy can produce much fruit in our lives, fruit visible through blossoming relationships, a lucrative income, and living that life of service God desires from us.
However, without self-control, even good things can become bad. Busyness can become a burden. The woman I know is hardworking, kind, and seeks to serve others, but she does so to her detriment. She drives herself like a car on ‘E’ and doesn’t hit the rest stop the way she should.
Can you relate? I can.
Are you in need of rest for your soul? I am.
Rest is required in order for us to perform at our best, whether at work, with our families, in church, or elsewhere. Rest helps us think coherently and make rational decisions. Rest keeps us spiritually sound and is one thing God wants to give us. The question is do we want rest for ourselves?
If you want your answer to be yes, but aren’t sure how to stop your busybody ways, then let’s find you some motivation.
Here are encouraging verses to find rest for your soul:
“On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.”
This verse highlights two of God’s actions: He completed His work, and He rested. There are days when we do the same, then there are days when we choose to keep going. We feel like we have to or else… We don’t know what exactly, but we imagine something bad will happen. That to-do list won’t complete itself we reason, and while that may be true, something else is also true. Two things, actually. There’s only so much time in a day. We do our best work when we are well-rested, not tired.
God set an example for rest, signifying its importance. The benefits we reap from taking time off are greater than those we find when we keep pushing ourselves to the breaking point. Let’s also not forget, rest helps us to recenter on the Lord. Our to-do list says we’re in charge. Rest reminds us of who really leads our lives.
“I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord, make me live in safety.”
Part of the reason we find ourselves burnt out is that we rely on our own strength to get things done. This is especially true during seasons when we simply don’t see God working. If He isn’t working, and we don’t, then who is? Yet, just because we don’t see God in action, or recognize Him, that doesn’t mean He’s absent, uncaring, or whatever else we imagine. That’s another reason we shouldn’t put more on ourselves than what’s realistic. Not our kind of ‘realistic,’ but an objective measure.
Doing things our way brings about anxiety, frustration, anger, and hurt when the outcome is not what we desire. If we instead turn to God, rest by waiting on Him, we can help alleviate some of those feelings.
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.”
Jesus recognized our propensity to fear. That’s why He encouraged His followers time and time again, do not be afraid. He has peace to offer, but in order to get that peace we have to seek Him. One of the ways we do this is by resting. We cease striving to make things happen and instead become wholly dependent on Him. World peace is temporary, but the peace Jesus offers is long-lasting. That makes the rest we find through Christ all the better.
“You will keep the mind that is dependent on you in perfect peace, for it is trusting in you.”
Nights when our minds are steadily going and hearts are in turmoil are typically nights devoid of rest. Rest comes more naturally when we find ourselves in peace. Now imagine how easily rest comes when we find ourselves in God’s perfect peace.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
One of the best perks to being a Christian is knowing that we are never truly alone. God is always with us. And with His presence comes His love and support. We don’t have to carry the burdens of life with our own might. The Lord is able and willing to support us. He desires to give us rest.
Now, here are three prayers to help you find rest:
Rest from Striving
I’m tired, God, but that isn’t news to you. All of this going and doing, doing and going. There’s never enough time in a day. Not that my to-do list has an end anyway. I’m bad at taking breaks, bad at going to sleep when I should, and bad at relaxing. I just don’t know how to sit still, how to cease from striving.
But what I don’t know, you can teach me. God, will you make me more like your Son? Help to know when I should be doing, and when I should be resting. Give me the discernment that I lack, and help me live the life you’ve called me to.
I pray to you now in your Son’s name. Amen.
Rest from Worry
There’s so much going on right now. More than I can handle and more than enough to keep me up at night. I desire rest, but all I find is pain. Where are you in the midst of my worries? Where are you as I grieve over my present troubles?
Can you show me a way out because right now, I don’t see one? I desire to be with you, but right now, I just don’t know how to get there. Hear my prayer, Lord. Please attend to my earnest pleas.
There’s a certain rest I can give myself, God, and then there’s the rest only you can provide. Something stronger, holier, rest that lasts longer. How do I find that kind? How do I take comfort in you rather than the world? Do I pray more, or read? Show me how, God. Show me how to attain godly rest. The kind felt in my bones, as well as in my mind. The kind that rejuvenates me, and keeps me centered on you. The kind I should strive for as a believer.
That’s the kind of rest I want. The kind that pleases you.
In your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/petrenkod
Aaron D’Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He’s an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”