As half of January has already bitten the dust, I must strain my busy mind to remember that I was on holiday just a few short weeks ago.
Due to the four seasons of Cape Town, we were blessed to enjoy a healthy mix of lazy lunches on sunny wine farms and shameless slothful relaxation at our gorgeous Airbnb, while the rain romanced us softly outside.
Yet with every workday that passes in the new year the benefits of such a rest seem to drift further and further into the back of my memory. As we hit the ground running with a crazy season at work, I find myself desperately trying to cling to the benefits of such a vacation.
Even Jesus needed rest when he was spreading the gospel here on earth. In Mark 6 we read that, together with the disciples, he was so busy that “they did not even have a chance to eat.” His solution? “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” Mark 6:31. On a podcast I listened to recently one pastor joked that even Jesus struggled with a work-life balance. 😉
If the Son of God needed to take time out to refresh and reset, how much more don’t we need to rest?
The definition of rest is (amongst others):
- cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength;
- allow to be inactive in order to regain strength or health;
- (of a problem or subject) be left without further investigation or discussion;
- place hope, trust, or confidence on or in.
Although I am a huge fan of vacation and consider traveling one of my favourite (and most expensive) hobbies, I cannot afford to wait for the next opportunity before I rest again. Living this way could be a recipe for disaster. It is essential for our wellbeing to rest and recharge on a regular basis.
So how do we create opportunities in our daily lives to stop, relax, recover and regain our strength?
I am by no means an expert in this arena. In fact, most people who know me well would rather describe me as a busy-body and overachiever. I grew up in a home where resting was for the lazy, but I married a man who balances this busy-ness out well and this forces me to try to incorporate a few strategies in my life to attempt to create more peace and renew my strength.
The first is to start each morning with a new routine. I wake up at 5 am, go to the gym, come home and have my green smoothie on the stoep while reflecting on five things I am grateful for. This doesn’t take longer than breakfast usually does, but it is a different location where I get to feel luxurious for a few minutes and get my mind settled before the crazy day starts.
A second strategy that my husband has been tirelessly trying to teach me is the art of saying “no”. I started working on this new skill last year and am getting better and better. The word “no” is a full answer. Like the famous saying goes: “if it’s not “hell yes” then it is a “no”.” Obviously, some things are not optional even though they suck, like paying taxes. But other things, for example, social events that don’t bring you joy or projects that drain you and create stress instead of building something meaningful don’t need your time and energy.
What about the other side of rest? How do you let go and place your hope and trust in God? We must take time to sit with Jesus every day and ask him to take over where we cannot go, which, to be honest, is not very far at all. I am nowhere near to proficient in this type of rest, but I am an eager student.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will give rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
When we take the time to be quiet and reflect before rushing on with our day; when we force ourselves to be still to allow the peace of God to penetrate our hearts and when we realize we will never receive all our answers this side of heaven, we can refresh our mind.
It is in these quiet moments when we can take the time to shift our focus and remind ourselves that although we are earthly minded, we should always be eternally focused. This refreshing angle will enable us to look at the day, the week and the months ahead with a new perspective.
Until our next holiday…
Enjoy the song “Still” by Hillary Scott & the Scott Family as you contemplate incorporating rest into your daily routine.