Finding Room to Breathe
“If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth" ~ Brene Brown
If I'm honest with you, and myself, I have lived a long season of rushing and racing through life. I'm guilty of living in bondage to my to-do lists, and I have suffered from an overwhelmed schedule and an underwhelmed soul because I have committed to more than what God has asked of me. I have been deceived and kept away from the true plan God has had for my life; all because I have refused to stop, rest, play and let God restore me.
Have you ever felt this way too?
• Are you captive to your commitments, or free to respond to God's invitation to do life with Him?
• Do the vast majority of the things you say "yes" to fill you up and open your eyes to the way that God is moving in your midst, or do they drain you to the point where you find yourself exhausted, simply rushing from one thing to the next?
Nothing drains us more than signing up for things that God hasn't asked us to do.
Somehow, our culture has caused us to believe that busier is better. We’ve become unknowingly convinced that taking time to create rest and tranquility means that we are unfit, weak, or incompetent. We’ve rejected the art of saying “no” without heaps of guilt resting heavily on our shoulders. We’ve fallen prey to the myth that if we don’t have as much or don’t do as much as others, then we are somehow not as valuable.
If the devil can't make us bad, he'll make us busy. He wants us to think that our worth, and our relationship with God is defined by what we can do for God. But, nothing can be further from the truth!
“God does not have to depend on human exhaustion to get His work done. God is not so desperate for resources to accomplish His purposes that we have to abandon the raising of our children in order to accommodate Him. Chronic overloading is not a spiritual prerequisite for authentic Christianity. Quite the opposite is true, overloading is often what we do when we forget who God is." ~ Richard Swenson, Margin/The Overload Syndrome
Rest is one of God’s greatest gifts for us.
Throughout the Bible, we are called to embrace rest. In fact, in Hebrews 4 it says that we are to MAKE EVERY EFFORT to enter into rest. When we push the stressful aside, it allows us to focus and be ministered to by the One who loves us most. This slowing down enables us to have a fresh encounter with God, and it's a sacred place where God clears our thinking, slows our heart rate and restores our sanity.
In addition to being good medicine for our souls, rest is important to God. In her book, Breathe; making room for Sabbath, Priscilla Shirer dissects the concept of rest and defines it as one of God’s greatest creations.
The word for Sabbath in Hebrew is shabbat, and it means to cease, to stop, to pause, to come to an end. In Genesis 2, it says, “By the 7th day God completed His work, and He rested.” Did you catch that? BY THE 7th DAY, GOD COMPLETED HIS WORK. If He had wrapped up everything on the 6th day, the Bible would have said that by the 6th day God had completed His work. But it says that by the 7th day, His work was complete. That means that after creating the universe in the previous 6 days, there was something else for God to do on the 7th.
The purpose of that 7th day was not for God to kickback, chill-out and sleep things off. God Almighty was not tired or worn out! He ceased His creation activities so He could express His complete satisfaction with what He had done. Enough was enough, creation was complete, so He rested. And in doing so, He demonstrated the act of rest to humanity, and placed the capstone on all of His creation.
“On that 7th day, God did more than withdraw from labor, He brought into existence the very thing that the universe would be incomplete without: Tranquility, serenity, peace and repose."
If rest is important to God, and it's essential to our wellbeing, why don't we make more room for it?
Take a look at some of these motivations and see if any of them seem to inform the way you spend your time:
• To impress
• To manage others' opinions of you
• To gain acceptance and approval
• Fear of being rejected
• To fill a gap or role that God hasn't asked you to fill (note to self: Just because I can, doesn't always mean that I should)
• To avoid conflict
• To compensate for shortcoming in another area of life
The first step in turning away from a life of fatigue is to dig in and discover why you refuse to be still. It's painful work, but it's the kind of work the Holy Spirit specializes in.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up my yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
When you share God's yoke, He gives you an anchor of peace that holds you firm when life comes to blow you down. Jesus came and died for us so that we can have an abundant and free life. God does not want us to be a slave to anyone or anything. He paid far too high a price for us to share our allegiance with any other. So, make your choice: be yoked with stress or be yoked with Jesus. Stand in your pride or submit, rest, and receive help from your Savior.
Will you join me in saying enough is enough?
Let's initiate a change. Let’s resolve to be different, and beg for God's help to embrace rest and play. Let's MAKE EVERY EFFORT to:
• Leave behind control, fear, people pleasing, busyness and comparison.
• Move towards still and quiet times, trust, listening, and brave obedience.
• Run our own race, and cheer for others in theirs without feeling threatened.
• Run to Jesus and where the Holy Spirit leads us- fully entrusting ourselves to Him.
• Stop, Rest, & Play, and let God RESTORE us.
“Busy is a choice. Stress is a choice. Joy is a choice. Choose well" ~ Ann Voskamp