Rest is vital.
However, I am terrible about resting. It makes me anxious. I have so many tasks to complete and people to see and projects to work on and emails to send and papers to write and articles to read and books to skim and meetings to attend and events to plan and research to do and food to make and rooms to clean and time to spend doing this activity and classes to teach and lessons to plan and so many things-I-can't-remember-at-this-time-but-that-need-to-get-done that I have no time to devote to resting. Resting, in my head, equates doing nothing. It's not productive. It's taking time that I could be spending reading, researching, writing, working, doing something that might help ease this seemingly infinite workload.
But really, that's a lie, and I have to constantly remind myself of that. Resting is not "doing nothing." It is not "unproductive." If nothing else, it allows me to keep working. Because if I work non-stop without resting (which is what the last few weeks have seemed like at times) my body will most definitely rebel. Since I have an anxiety disorder, and a few other health issues which can be triggered by stress, if I push too hard for too long, I end up down for the count for a few days due to illness, nerve pain, or something else that confines me to the house.
But rest is more than just a preventative measure to prevent physical breakdown. It is an exercise in trust: trust in God over my own work ethic. At Second Mile a few weeks ago, Chad asked, "Do you trust God enough to rest?" The truth is that I often don't. I believe that the only way to get everything done is for me to work myself till exhaustion, and even then, I probably need to work harder. Worse, much of that work is often "ministry" and any moment I take for myself I later feel guilty about because I should be devoting more of my time to "ministry." Sadly, at these times I am probably quite far from what God is actually asking of me. God commands us to rest (it is not optional). He knows how vital it is for our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. And God wants us to reflect him: he wants us to be filled with his joy and peace, to rejoice in his love, to love others well, to express compassion and always be ready to serve others. That is difficult for us to do if we are sick, burned-out, exhausted, and on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
This is not an excuse for inaction or apathy. Genesis 2:2-3 reads, "On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation." We do have work to do. But if God, infinite in power, took time to rest, how much more should we, finite and weak, take time to rest as well? Taking time to rest is an exercise in obedience, one that declares that we trust God enough not to rely solely on our own strength and work to get everything done.
This week is going to be another rather crazy week filled with numerous tasks to do and not much time to get them done in. I apologize if my posts are a bit irregular; I may have to wait till the weekend to be able to spare some time for blogging. But I will be taking time to rest, with friends, in God's Word, in prayer, and in time for myself. And I challenge you to do the same.
All photos taken by Kara Haberstock, July 2009, all rights reserved