Last year I underwent surgery for the first time. I was given only one piece of advice from the hospital to aid my recovery. Rest. I am a physically active person, task orientated and have a busy analytical and problem solving mind, so this was going to be a challenge. However, I took it as an opportunity to explore what rest really meant.
Firstly, I went to scripture and discovered that finding rest in God doesn’t mean doing nothing. It comes from pursuing the activities that will bring us life. “Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (mat 11:28). “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Lk 11:9). “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Ps 55:22). These are all verbs – doing words. In order to rest well we need to know how to get our tanks filled by the very giver of life. Giving time to intentionally seek His presence through prayer, worship, solitude and reading The Bible is a key part of how we can rest. In this place we make room for Him to speak, to bring peace and revelation. In a busy, noisy world we need time with the one who can help us make sense of ourselves and the part we have to play and this is restful for our souls. I would suggest we need an element of this everyday with perhaps an extended time once a week or month.
Secondly I found that I need to find a place that feels spacious, where I can enjoy interests and activities just for pleasure. This provides a break from the things I have to do, such as paid employment or responsibilities around the home. For me, this includes running, photography, reading and being in the outdoors. As I turn my attention away from work and onto other simple pursuits my mind and emotions settle from the burdens of the day and I can see clear sky again. I can come back from a long run and realise I have thought about nothing else other than running for an hour. This rests my mind from the things it is usually thinking about and helps me connect with who I am rather than what I do.
Thirdly I am rested when I spend quality time with others. Whether that be with lots of people if you are an extrovert or the chosen few if you are an introvert. We are all relational beings and having those relationships where we can unburden ourselves, laugh, cry, admonish and encourage each other is a tonic to our souls. Finding solace from the pressures of the day with a partner or friend provides pockets of time where I feel I can get recharged before getting going again. This can sometimes be in the evening or sometimes in the day, when I meet someone for coffee or when I am out and about with a work colleague. Identifying those people who can help bring life to us is a very important part of rest.
So there we have it. Three ways I have found to get rest is through connecting with God, connecting with myself and connecting with others. It has actually been quite a pleasant journey discovering these things – I can recommend it.