“Come to me, 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.”
(Matthew 11:28-29 NIV)
Growing up I spent most of my summers at my grandparent’s house. We had a summer tradition I loved; every year on the last day of school they would pick me up and take me to the mall. There I would get to pick out a new swimsuit and ten (ten!) new books. I swam all day and stayed up reading all night. Somehow I also managed to squeeze in sleepovers, beach trips, church camp, BBQ’s, and all kinds of other summer activities. I would start strong, but by the end of the summer, I’d be sleeping until noon and spending my days in an exhausted daze on the couch. The one phrase I can remember hearing most from my sweet southern grandmother was, “You look a little peaked, honey.”
Rest is so important, and it does a lot more for us than we give it credit for. The concept of summer break was created so that children and families would have an opportunity to settle down and get some rest. So why does it seem like so many people are exhausted by the time Fourth of July is over?
Our modern culture values activity and movement. When there is a lull in our schedule, we feel a compulsive need to fill it. So much of the time we find ourselves needing rest, but we don’t know how to seize the opportunity when it arises.
I think God wants us to understand the importance of rest, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. God is a God of rest! Think about it, in Genesis chapter 2, God rests after He finishes His creation. In exodus chapter 20 He commands His people to rest one out of every six days. Psalm 127:2 says that God gives rest to those He loves. In Mark chapter 6 Jesus invites His disciples to “come with Me to a quiet place and get some rest”.
The most obvious reason God wants us to rest is that when we are tired, we make tired decisions. Think about it. How many things have you said or done just because you were tired that you later regretted? How many times have you compromised just because you were tired? If you’re interested in adding to your summer reading list, I suggest you check out Genesis 25:29-34. It’s a crazy story about a guy who ruined his life because he needed a snack and a nap!
I know in the summer it’s tempting to get as much done as possible before it’s over, to try to knock out as many to do lists as we can before a new school year begins. It feels great to get a lot accomplished. But let’s remember that rest is productive! When we are rested, we are more likely to make decisions that are life giving to ourselves and others, and that honor our relationship with God.
If you’re like me and you want to be intentional about getting some rest but don’t know how to get started, here’s a prayer I think will help:
Father, thank You for giving me opportunities to rest.
Help me to recognize those opportunities when they arise, and to make the most of them.
As I choose to rest in You, thank You for speaking to my heart and drawing me closer to You.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen