The autumn season is upon us, and along with it everything that makes autumn beautiful. I love living in a state that has all 4 seasons, but my favorite season is surely fall. The whole world changes color. There are places on Earth that are permanently summer, and places that are permanently winter. If there were a place that was permanently fall, that would be my number one vacation spot. Even though I know the world around me is preparing for a dormant season and the only color we will see for a long time is white, the crisp air and the new colors still feel new and fresh to experience. And the beauty of it is breath taking.
Our science teachers all the way from kindergarten have been telling us what is happening when the trees change color in the fall. The tree is preparing to rest. It stops actively making/using the chlorophyll in the leaves and the chlorophyll starts to dissipate. The chlorophyll was making the leaves green in color, but as it leaves the true colors of the leaves come out. This was the color of the leaves all along, but only when the tree stopped working could the beauty start to show.
~Let’s take this lesson from nature
on how beautiful it can be to rest.~
Our country is the most overworked, under rested developed nation on Earth. The average American only uses 50% of their vacation time in a year, sleeps 15% less than our European counterparts on a nightly basis, and spends a majority of our down time engaged in other forms of social contact such as social media, T.V. and other media platforms. * Do we ever sleep? Do we ever rest our minds? Do we ever allow ourselves to just experience the world around us instead of accomplishing it? Sleep is not the only important notion to consider. When our minds are continually engaged in one thing or another, we lose the precious time it has to make connections. Our brain never stops working, but if we allow it time to itself to stop taking in stimuli then we open the doorway for greater learning retention, focused attention, and productivity.
Rest comes in so many different ways. Physical, emotional, spiritual. Do you remember the feeling when you are far enough along in a friendship that you actually relax and allow yourself to just be who you are because you know the person across from you truly does accept you that way? Do you remember that ‘rest’? It’s the same release we feel when we hit the pillow just before bed, the same rest we feel when we cry deeply for something. They are all forms of rest, and they are many times forms of relationships. Our beauty rest is of course in the form of sleep and mindfulness, but it’s also in allowing ourselves to be in relationship with other people. Letting them speak into our lives and give us that rest and freedom we didn’t even know we needed until they provided it.
My greatest reminders for the need of rest are my children. Our oldest started full days of school this year. We live a little ways from the school, but not too far. We decided that our children would walk to and from school. We thought it was a pretty normal decision, but as we are one of the only people on the sidewalk in the mornings, I’m beginning to realize how rare it is that kids walk to school anymore. I didn’t realize what a treasure this would be. Our children start school at different times, so I have a time just with them each day as we walk to and from school. Even though we are walking, it’s become one of the most restful times of the day. When we walk side by side, there’s a freedom for them to just talk. There’s no pressure for eye contact or conversation so they just say whatever they want. This is the time of day that I hear all about their day, their friends, their joys and their struggles. This is when there’s an opening to provide encouragement and an empathetic ear. Between the time I pick them up from school and the time we walk through our door, I can see the tension leave their bodies. They let go of the stimulation from their busy day and rest in the presence of our relationship. Their little hands creep into mine as they likely haven’t touched a single person all day. They rest in the kind touch and the ability to just be there together. They let out the emotions of their day that they have been bottling up to keep their cool with everyone else. They ask for advice on problems they have. And sometimes we just walk in silence as they enjoy just being outside for a while. I wouldn’t trade this time with them for anything. In total I walk 5.6 miles a day (even though they each walk a total of 1.4 miles) getting my kids to and from school. That’s a lot of walking, but it’s nothing compared to the rest my kids receive by having someone to walk with as they start and end their day. By walking to school, it’s created a space for rest that I didn’t know was needed, but has become truly valuable, and so relationaly beautiful.
Christ asks us to take rest seriously. From the beginning of the Bible, God shows us how important rest is by modeling it on the 7th day. But even Christ shows us that physical rest is not the only rest God is talking about. Throughout his entire ministry, Christ provides rest for people. Physical healing, emotional acceptance, and spiritual freedom from religious mandates. He stops along his path to be with people. He ministers to people as he is walking. He loves people by giving them rest from their afflictions. When people say ‘I have a friend in Jesus’ they don’t mean they have a pal to hang out with. They mean they have a relationship that they will always be accepted and always find true relational rest. Not only does he fill our hearts, he lifts our burdens. Often times, not by doing anything but just being there in the middle of the walk home. Creating space for our hearts to let go. Giving encouragement and empathy for what’s happening. Allowing us to put our lives in his hands and just hold ours while we are together. The beauty of rest in Christ is infinite, and provides true rest for our souls.
*National Sleep Foundation*
Consider the Word
Adding Christ to our lives does not add greater burden. It also does not promise easy living, but just because we make time for Christ doesn’t mean we won’t be able to enjoy the fullness of life. He can provide rest and rejuvenation like no other experience we could chase. He will help carry our burdens. They are not to be done alone. When you go to bed tonight and the to-do list starts running in your mind or the burden you are carrying starts to surface and you start reaching for whatever it is that will distract you long enough to fall asleep; reach for this verse. Let it give your soul the rest it needs.
Spend some time with this passage. The Psalms weren’t meant to be studied, they were meant to be experienced. What stands out to you? What portion of God’s character is shining through to you? What words are there for you today, that speak to where you are? What part of you feels unsettled that needs to lay its foundation on Christ?
This passage can get a little confusing on figuring out ‘how’ we can enjoy God’s rest. The bottom line is faith. Belief in Christ. We don’t do something to be able to rest in God’s peace. We simply trust Christ, and he will take care of it. But the point is, it’s there. Available to us now. True rest for our souls in the embrace of God. Spend some time with this passage, and ask God to show you his presence and rest.
Reflections and Questions to Consider
-Where do you find rest? Who do you find relational rest with? Do you find rest or do you find distraction?
– Who can you reach out to, to provide relational rest for another? Who needs to be loved, accepted, and cared for?