What is rest?
R & R is a military term meaning “rest and recuperation.” Often equated with sleep, rest is so much more than just recuperating physically. Certainly, sleep is of core importance, and I encourage you to make it a priority, but true rest is so much more than getting enough sleep.
Rest is the refreshing quiet, peace, tranquility, and calm that comes with good sleep. Rest is also the refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor as well as relief or freedom from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs. Rest also comes in the form of mental and spiritual calm.
Generally speaking, rest is physical, mental, and spiritual in nature. Its goal is restoration, rejuvenation, recovery, refreshment, renewal, revitalization, recuperation, and relaxation.
How often do you feel any of these things?
Benefits of Rest
Lack of adequate rest leads to mental and physical issues. To put a positive spin on it, regular rest, according to Inc., has the following benefits:
- Stress reduction
- Physical transformation
- Reduced inflammation
- Less risk of heart disease
- Immune system boost
- Restoration of mental energy
- More creativity
- Increased productivity
- Better focus
- Short-term memory improvement
The Simple Complexity of Rest
We all need rest, and the activities that provide it are usually pretty basic. Our bodies will even force us to rest eventually if we don’t choose to do so.
Everybody rests differently. My husband sleeps hard, whether at night or for power naps, and receives mental rest from physical exertion. I need a consistent nightly sleep routine, but I find rest by reading or walking in the woods.
Unfortunately, rest is often the first thing we neglect when life gets busy. It’s also difficult to get back into restful habits once we neglect them long enough.
The types of rest also overlap. For example, exercise is mentally restful but fatigues you physically. Journaling, crosswords, reading, and the like can be mentally taxing and restful at the same time. Good sleep is restful in all ways.
The Bible says a lot about how we can find rest. Take a few minutes to read the following verses for just a sampling of what it says: Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Psalm 4:8; Psalm 37:7; Matthew 11:28-30; and Mark 6:31. From these verses alone, we learn the following about rest:
- God set a pattern for regular rest from work.
- Rest is a commandment, not a suggestion.
- We find rest when we place our confidence in God.
- Rest comes when we wait on God’s timing.
- A patient soul results from resting in God.
- Jesus gives us rest from the burden of sin.
- Jesus encouraged his disciples to take time away to rest.
- We can learn to take time to rest.
- Jesus’ life often got away to rest and connect with God.
Why are we rest deprived?
“For this is what the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.’ But you were not willing.” (Isaiah 30:15)
In the OT, the Israelites had this pattern of rebellion and returning to God. Their rebellion involved syncretism, which is a combining of religions, and it basically involved trying to create their own solutions for living life.
Like the Israelites, we’re often focused on the causes of lack of rest in our lives. We try to control our lives – often by using quick fixes – instead of looking for real solutions. In other words, we’re just not willing to find the true rest God provides.
Commit to Christ
Instead of conforming to culture – in this context, looking for quick fixes and letting busyness be the norm – we can commit to getting closer to Christ, where rest is truly found.
We need to realize that life isn’t meant to be lived like a buffet. We are meant to be nourished, and only resting in Christ can do that. We are meant to focus on Jesus and let his Holy Spirit direct our steps. We aren’t meant to syncretize our lives, so we feel in control, which is an illusion anyway.
Getting Enough Rest
Ask yourself, “Why don’t I get enough rest?” Then ask, “What can I do to become better rested?” Look at the major areas of rest – physical, mental, and spiritual – and let the Holy Spirit lead you. Spend quality time with Christ, learning about the type of rest he offers.
Soul rest is possible, but we need to pursue Christ to obtain it. Are you willing?