You need more rest than you think you do.

Recently, we’ve been talking about some of the core issues that cause us to be too busy. Last week we looked at how our overuse of technology might be compounding the busyness that we feel. Today we want to look at the reality that you need more rest than you think that you do.

In a lot of cultures, being busy and overly tired is a badge of honor. A few years back, a member of my family worked in New York City at a prestigious law firm. She told me stories about how the partners in the law firm would often brag about how busy they were, and how many hours they billed. It was quite common, actually, for partners to brag about missing important events because they were stuck at the office. This included, but was not limited to things like, their kids birthday parties or family holidays. All of this was as if to say, “Look at me. I work so hard. I don’t need normal things that normal humans need. I got what it takes. Do you?”

In 2008, my wife, Gina, and I spent a month in Japan with some families as we considered whether or not we might consider moving there for ministry. One couple told us that when you get into Tokyo and other major cities, it is not uncommon to find business professionals taking naps at their desk. Matter of fact, if you walk in on someone taking a nap, it is almost something that should cause you to think, “Wow! She’s working so hard that she fell asleep! I respect that!”

Busyness is often a bragging point for today’s driven professionals, but is it what God intended for us?

Jesus described the answer this way, “The sabbath was made for men, not men for the sabbath.” The sabbath - taking a day of rest - was never designed to simply be some rule to follow ‘or else.’ God told his people to set aside a day of rest because he knew that we needed it!

We work better from a place of rest. Our relationships are healthier when we are rested. We experience more joy in life when we are rested. We see God more clearly when we slow down and rest. So why don’t we rest? Because we have too much stuff to do!

Friends, we need to learn how to rest. I hope by now, after writing about busyness all summer, you see that loud and clear. But here is something you may not have considered: many of us are less busy than we think, but because we don’t rest we are constantly overwhelmed.

What if rest and busyness is a vicious cycle? What if you feel overwhelmed because you aren’t rested and then you won’t rest because you feel overwhelmed? What if you chose to ignore some responsibilities in order to get some much needed rest with the understanding that it would make you all the more productive and healthier.  Here is some advice on rest.

You need to rest. Who cares if your house is a mess. If you know me personally, you know that I am borderline neurotic about putting things away. I have a hard time doing anything that I am supposed to be doing if my house isn’t tidy. It doesn’t need to be clean - just tidy is good enough for me! That being said, I am often guilty of cleaning the table and washing the dishes instead of sitting and talking to our guests, or following after my kids and cleaning up the trail of toys instead of sitting down and playing with them. Maybe what I need in my life is a little bit of a mess. If the fear of a mess is keeping you from rest, then you are bound to be stressed (yep, I just made a rhyme).

Take a day and truly rest. Don’t check your email, don’t pick up the phone, truly and completely rest! Imagine going for a hike in the woods and not bringing your cell phone. Imagine watching a sunset without wondering if you can take a good picture of it without the image being washed out. Imagine leaving the house in the morning with your kids, and enjoying a day at the beach without any strings attached. It’s hard to imagine such a day - at least it is for me.  Every time I have a free day, I feel burdened by all the things that I should be doing (cleaning out my gutters, mowing my lawn, weed whacking, cleaning the garage, fixing that piece of trim in my bathroom, and on and on). If I am to truly rest, I need to let those things wait until another day and enjoy the moment.

Spiritually you should rest too. Your soul is overwhelmed with so many things. Take some time to rest your spirit and give your cares to the Lord. My daily practice is to read the Bible, to journal about what I am thinking, and to spend time praying with my bride. Weekly, we all would benefit from extended time doing those same things in a deeper way. Jesus invites us to enter into his rest. Come, taste, and see that the Lord is good and that he wants to give you rest for your weary soul!