Monday, December 17, 2018

Getting Ready for a Timely Rest?

Ask any bear: A rest is always a good idea.
In addition to preparing for the Christmas celebration and observance of the start of a new year, this is the time when many of us are ready to take a deep breath, pause from the press of schedules and deadlines, and just rest. Sometimes, because the pace of life in the 21stcentury is so frantic, we feel guilty about resting, but it’s something we all desperately need.

Even in music, with notes following notes in a glorious cascade, an occasional rest is important to the overall composition. Think of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, where the famous “Bum-bum-bum-BAAAAH” phrases are separated by brief rests. From time to time, a rest is always appropriate – and necessary. I suspect you’ve heard about the baby whose frazzled mom called the police, who quickly arrived and charged the tot with resisting a rest?

I chuckle recalling a moment when I was a boy, probably around 10 years old. While visiting relatives in Maryland, I boldly declared that I wished we didn’t have to sleep, that we could do so much more if we didn’t need to stop and rest. (I’m sure my parents were thinking, “Are you kidding me?!”) Alas, time has taught me what a foolish young fellow I was. Now I welcome bedtime, even nap time. At times they’re the highlight of my day.

There are times, however, when more than a good night’s sleep is required. Sometimes it’s necessary to cease activity entirely, even if it’s just for a day or two. 

Even in music,
there's time
for a rest.
We find this theme recurring in the Scriptures. I’ve written in the past about Elijah’s dramatic confrontation with the 850 priests of Baal and false prophets, as recounted in 1 Kings 18. After the miraculous events of that day, Elijah fled, not out of fear but because his physical and emotional resources had been depleted. In the 19th chapter, we find that God didn’t chastise his faithful prophet. Instead, He let him rest and sent angels to minister to him.

Jesus packed an enormous amount of ministry into a span of just three years, but even He would take time to separate from His disciples and avid followers for prayer and rest.

Elsewhere we see God’s affirmation of the importance of rest. In one of my favorite chapters in all of Scripture, after we’re instructed to trust in the Lord, delight in Him, and commit all we do to Him, it says we’re to, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:3-7). My own revised paraphrase of this passage says, “Take a rest, man. Chill out a little!”

Psalm 46:10 underscores God’s emphasis on the need for periodic rest. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations I will be exalted in the earth.” While resting, we don’t need to go into a brain freeze. It’s a good time for reflecting and meditating on the Lord and who He is; that He’s the one who enables us to do whatever we need to get done, anyway.

It’s not coincidental that the very next Psalm helps us to set our minds on God, His character and His greatness. “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!... God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne” (Psalm 47:1-9).

So if you’re anticipating carving out a break in the action, taking a few days off, or even a week or more as this year draws to a close, enjoy the rest. Take advantage of some “times of refreshing,” as Acts 3:19 expresses it, and trust the Lord to prepare you for another productive, fruitful year of serving Him in 2019. 

Just as a great musical composer understands the value of a timely rest in the composition, the One who composed us is fully in favor of giving us a rest every so often, too.

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