Lisa Santelli, GFC Lutz
“Come, let’s take a break and find a secluded place where you can rest a while.” Mark 6:31 TPT
Rest. What’s that? If you’re like me, making time for rest can be difficult.
Recently, I had the opportunity to get away for a retreat called Rest Quest. In full disclosure, this was my second one for the year. When I first heard of such a thing, I didn’t know what it was or what to expect, but I heard the word “rest” and was like, “Sign me up! I need that!”. My life has been jam packed over the past couple years with work and work-related travel. It’s typically hard for me to turn off the noise and find rest.
Living in such a fast-paced culture filled with busyness, deadlines, and other obligations – our mental, spiritual, and physical bodies can easily take a back-seat. Maybe you can relate. Family duties? Ministry? Demanding work schedules? Finding stillness and refreshment is tough, which is why I’ve become intentional now about scheduling these times of rest.
For this Rest Quest, the schedule was loose. The message was simple. And, the presence of God was infused through the whole experience. The idea was to unplug from all distractions, especially our phones (that means both email and social media), and to just focus on conversing with God. For some, this may be easy. For others, like me, who are so reliant on our little tech devices, it is hard to fully turn it off. I had many things going on that weekend that were trying to distract, but I put my trust in God and practiced letting go. Through this time away, God refreshed me, filled my cup, provided clarity and direction, and gave me a nourishing recharge. YES. I had to unplug to recharge. Let that sink in.
I’m not going to pretend that I have mastered rest, but I would like to share some things that I’ve been learning along the way.
Start identifying the reasons you are tired. At this quest, we were introduced to the book “Invitation to Retreat” by Ruth Haley Barton. The author mentions areas that may rob of rest. Do you relate to any of these?
- Functioning out of “oughts” and “shoulds” versus what God is calling you to. One question to ask, “Is this my BEST YES?” Spreading ourselves thin means every “Yes” only gets a slice of our best. Bump every invitation up to God and ask Him whether or not we should commit to the request.
- Finding it difficult to receive help. If you have friends wanting to give you support, don’t let pride get in the way and learn to just receive the blessing of an assist.
- Trying to ‘perform’ versus focusing on what God is calling us to. This can be hard to decipher, especially when others have placed expectations on us, whether at home or work. Something to ponder: would I still say yes, even if no one knows that I offered to help? Or, am I saying yes to look good. I don’t think this is purposeful, that we set out to “look good”. Often we do want to please others which can lead to exhaustion if we aren’t serving for the right reasons.
- Carrying the burdens of unhealed wounds. Sadness, toxicity, and tension can be tiring. Invite God into the healing process. This could be intensive, and you may need extra support, but it’s so freeing!
Being honest about where your exhaustion is coming from can help you identify the root of your tiredness. If I’m transparent, I can relate with each of these that lead to my unrest. Pride. Independence. People-pleasing. I’m learning to lean in and ask God for guidance in these areas so that I am only giving my best YES and serving others well.
Be intentional about scheduling time for rest. I understand not everyone can get away for a whole weekend, but making time is essential. Jot down a few things that rejuvenate and refresh you. Maybe you can start with a five-minute devotional, a few minutes of deep breathing, or a 15-minute walk. Years ago, I read a devotional called, Whispers of Rest by Bonnie Gray. I highly recommend this if you want to walk through a deeper journey of rest. Whatever your restful moments look like, invite God in, start the conversation, ask Him for that refreshing.
In Mark 6:30, Jesus invites His disciples to come away with Him and get rest. Jesus saw His friends and knew they were tired. So, He got them on a boat, away from the people, so they could rest. But, what happens next? The people followed Jesus. They recognized Him and drew near. And, Jesus, being Jesus, didn’t try to outrun them. Instead, He came to shore to meet them. To teach them. And, when it got late, Jesus saw that they needed nourishment, too. So, He instructed the disciples to gather up any food in the crowd, which was minimal. Then, as the scriptures layout, Jesus performed a miracle, and He multiplied the food, feeding thousands that day.
When we take time to get away with Jesus, He will feed us, provide for us and take care of our needs. Rest is not an escape, but instead, rest is a place we find refuge in God’s presence. We escape watching Netflix; we rest at the feet of Jesus. In the 1828 Webster’s dictionary, rest is defined as a “state of reconciliation with God; a place of quiet”; and also, “that on which anything leans or lies on for support”. When we find our rest in God, leaning on Him for support, He gives us that spiritual nourishment, providing for our needs, refreshing our souls, so that we can continue to serve and bless others.
As the holidays approach, our calendars may start to fill up. Be encouraged to leave margin in life for rest. Schedule time on the calendar. Whether it’s a weekend of solitude, weekly Sabbaths or only minutes at a time, be intentional to invite God into quiet moments and get recharged and rejuvenated!