The Gift of Rest

My soul finds rest in God alone. ~Psalm 62:1

When do you rest? The pace of daily living in our time squeezes out the gift of rest, replacing this gift with the labor of busyness, stress, need to produce, getting active. Even when we step away from work, we come home to more work staring at us, demanding more labor and more energy from our already weary lives. When do you rest? While studying for a Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Seminary, in 2005-2009, I read a book by Fuller professor of Psychology, Dr. Archibald Hart titled Adrenalin and Stress. I also was asked to take a stress survey of my life, to determine how often my life was overly stressed. Here’s what Dr. Hart writes:

“People in a hurry never have time for recovery. Their minds have little time to meditate and pray so that problems can be put in perspective. In short, people in our age are showing signs of physiological disintegration because we are living at a pace that is too fast for our bodies.” —Archibald Hart (quoted from Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg; Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition, p. 63).

Rest is a God-given gift. The writer of the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament warns against refusing to enter into God’s rest:

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:

Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”

What effort are you making today, this week, this month, this season to “enter that rest”?

When do you pause to “hear his voice”?

What keeps your heart from hardening?

How do you find rest for your soul?

Here are a few spiritual practices to encourage you to receive the gift of rest, as stated by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun in Spiritual Disciplines Handbook:

  • set aside unhurried time to rest and be refreshed rather than work;
  • allow yourself time for restful activities: curling up by the fireplace, walking on the beach, taking a catnap, calling your parents, talking to your kids, making love to your spouse, going on a picnic;
  • set margins in the day for moments of recollection and rest;
  • take vacations and days off;
  • refrain from activities that drain you while resting: doing taxes, cleaning closets and so on;
  • develop an intentional rhythm ofrest and work in your life;
  • learn from children how to play.