This morning as I was praying, I was made acutely aware that I was approaching the end of summer very quickly. Even more so, I was approaching a host of commitments I had on my plate that I really needed to get prepared for. My mind swirled for a minute, where do I begin? How do I prepare? The Lord took me a very different preparation route than I expected. He told me I needed to practice resting. What?!?! resting?!? How is this going to help me stay ahead or the at least on schedule with everything I will have to do? This is His beautiful explanation to me:
Our walk with the Lord is a marathon race. Paul describes it as a race in 1 Corithians 9, and we are to go into strict training and we are to beat our bodies and make them our slave. Well, let’s say before a big race I trained only in the weight room. I built up my muscles and and made them strong and powerful. I focused solely on the strengthening of my skeletal muscles that I never actually strengthened my heart and lungs for a longer race. The heart and lungs, a vital part in endurance, will not be strong enough to carry the necessary oxygen to these powerful muscles to keep them from fatiguing and cramping. Come big race day, I might have prepared but I did not prepare correctly. I will begin the race fast and strong but I will soon tire quickly and become fatigued and overwhelmed. I will not be able to finish the race. However, if I train appropriately strengthening the heart and the lungs I will learn to pace myself and take the necessary “breathers” that I will need to persevere.
Learning to rest, which seems ridiculous that you would need to learn to rest, is the training of the heart and lungs for the marathon season that lays ahead. So what types of rest are there? The Lord pointed out that I need three types of rest:
1. Spiritual Rest: this is resting in the Lord. Finding solitude with Him every day. Having Him renew my mind and resting/trusting in His assurances. This rest prioritizes everything else in life. It is where anxiety and stress is laid down and peace is picked up. This is where I can say I don’t have to do it all, and I let go of worldly expectations.
2. Mental Rest: This rest is a pouring into of the mind. So often life demands so much of us mentally. Always thinking of what we have to do. We also pour out into others lives praying and caring for others. Mental rest is a time to pour back into our minds. The best source to pour in is scripture because it feeds all parts of our body. Paul also speaks about whatever if lovely, honorable or praise worthy think about such things. I found when I listen to praise music or read a Christ centered book for my encouragement or teaching this pours into my mind and gives me rest from pouring out.
3. Physical rest: This rest seems to be a no brainer but too often it doesn’t happen. In America, if you aren’t moving and going you are losing or falling behind. We even have a city that is considered the city the never sleeps. Physical rest is stepping away from our normal every day work to pour into our bodies. Sometimes that is literally a nap. Other times it is exercise or a fun activity that honors the Lord.
When we pour what is good into our bodies and minds, it comes back out. For a long time, the enemy deceived me about rest. I was convinced that I must keep going. I must keep serving. Taking time away was selfish but where that landed me was an extremely overwhelmed and stressed out mom who had a short fuse. The enemy hates when Gods people rest, because rest restores the Lords army to keep waging war. If we never rest, we will become battle fatigued and overwhelmed. So how are you resting? Is rest apart of your life? Your family’s life? We all have our marathon seasons to run will you have trained in all ways including rest so that you can endure when the pressure is on?
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Philippians 4:6-8 NIV