I’m on my second “sick day” of the week, complete with a dead phone and dead charger. I mention this because I currently don’t know what to do with myself; it is a truly rare occasion that I am not in class or rehearsal, or preparing for class or rehearsal, or taking a temporary break on my phone. To-do lists are the script of my life. I don’t run on caffeine. Instead, I run on the sense of accomplishment when I complete a task. Generally speaking, rest is not my preferred method of spending time.
Conviction time: Even God needs rest. The phrase “You can have too much of a good thing” applies to creation.
“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day. So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. By 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. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.” Genesis 1:31-2:3)
In order to fully appreciate the good work He accomplished, God needed rest. And because God Himself needed rest, rest became holy, meaning “set apart.” Rest is set apart because it is contrary to the human inclination to keep pressing forward. Ironically, the way to fight my natural sinful tendencies is to rest. And when I reach a state of rest, I can be godly by stepping back, appreciating the work I have done through God’s strength, and seeing it as good.
More specific than general rest, I need relational rest. I had the privilege of getting to meet Audrey Assad yesterday. Her song that I knew the best was “Restless,” so I was especially interested when she spoke of her desire (in leading worship) to lead the congregation to a place of rest before God. During a Q&A session, I got the chance to ask her to expand on this idea. She used the illustration of Mary and Martha, saying that we need a “holy imbalance” between the two; we need to pay attention to details like Martha, but it is also “necessary” for us to rest in the presence of our Savior (Luke 10:42). Being conscientious in our duties is important, but Jesus claimed that Mary made the better choice by choosing relationship over responsibility. We live for relationships–first and foremost with the Lord and then with fellow sinners in need of His grace. While all relationships are worth our investment, our relationship with the Lord is especially significant in that we are commanded to rest and be the weaker half: “‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30). Through intimacy with the Lord, we have the freedom to rest in the arms of One Who is stronger than us.
Outside of community, I need my own personal rest. Earlier I may have given the impression that I never experience rest. That would not be true, or else I wouldn’t have survived this long in college. However, I very rarely experience intentional rest; most of my rest is unintentional. At the end of a normal day of five classes, rehearsals, and work, I come back to my dorm to do homework for the next day’s five classes. (The joys of being a music major.) But recently, whenever I finally sit down to get some work done, fatigue and pain take over, leaving me no choice but to lie down and relax every muscle of my body. This is always a setback in my plan to be productive and is, therefore, very frustrating. I’m constantly reminded of my own weakness through the necessity to stop my own plans and follow the orders of my exhausted body. Yesterday I learned the root of my frustration through the lyrics of Audrey Assad’s song: “I’m restless ’til I rest in You.” Every time that I am forced to stop my own plans and rest, God is providing time to reflect on the good He is bringing out of my life and to freely enjoy His presence. The slower-paced times of my life are not a curse; it is a blessing to spend time worshipping my Savior. As Psalm 62:5 says, “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.”