By: Ginger Hughes
I don’t know about you, but around here, Summer has been busy—a little too busy. Our calendar has been full—a bit too full.
Summer is often touted as being a fun and relaxing season, but I’m not so sure. Sure we’ve had some fun, but relaxed? Not so much. We’ve enjoyed VBS, ball games, and visits to see family. We’ve worked, taken the kids for swim lessons, and even traveled across the country. We’ve run errands, cleaned house, and tried to complete some projects here at home.
But today, I looked at my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “I’m tired. Bone tired.” Though I’m grateful for our experiences, I long for rest. I long for a replenishing, soul-giving rest.
In the Bible, rest was an essential aspect of life. At the dawn of Creation, God worked six days and rested on the seventh. In the law as seen in Exodus 34:21, the Bible says “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest, you must rest.” In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, there is a powerful image of Jesus ministering to the community late into the evening, and then early the next morning while it was still dark, He went off by Himself to pray. He went away from the crowds to recharge and replenish that which was expended.
So I can’t help but wonder—if God created it, the law required it, and Jesus modeled it, why don’t we live it? Why have we not made rest an important part of life and faith today?
While the reasons are numerous, I do think there are a few core issues that affect many of us. First, we’re overcommitted. We have no time to slow down because we have another activity already on the docket, and then another, and then another after that. “There is no rest for the weary,” we laughingly say, meanwhile our bodies are tired and our hearts are weary. Another reason is we often equate our worth with our work. We surmise that if anyone saw us resting, they may think less of us. “We don’t want to be lazy,” we say. And for some of us, we simply have a hard time saying “no.” Whether it be to our children, our extended family, our friends, or our co-workers, we don’t want to let anyone down. We push harder to please, even to our own detriment. “You can count on me,” we promise, as we desperately try to keep all of the balls in the air. However, this workload comes at a steep price. The result of all the doing and striving is that we end up exhausted and lacking the joy and peace God freely gives.
Yes, we are meant to work hard, but not to the point of exhaustion. We are meant to serve others, but not to become slaves to people-pleasing. We are meant to enjoy activities that give life, not fill our lives with activities that drain the life out of us.
So if, like me, you’re feeling worn down by life, then perhaps we need to reevaluate some things. Perhaps we need to look at the God of creation and realize that if God created rest, then it’s worthy of our time. If Jesus, God’s perfect Son, took time to rest, how much more do we need rest for our souls?
Maybe this is the month we can commit to living as God intended by intentionally setting aside time, creating margin, and resting. What can we say “no” to in the coming days? How can we make space for rest? Are we willing to step back and follow God’s lead, even if He leads us to a place of rest?
I hope the answer is yes.
-Ginger Hughes is the wife of a pastor, a mother of two and an accountant. She is a Georgia native currently living in the foothills of North Carolina. Her passion for writing is fueled by the desire to offer encouragement, grace and a deeper understanding that we are all God’s children. Her blogging for Nurturing Faith is sponsored by a gift from First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Ga. Additional writings may be found at nomamasperfect.com.