Isn’t it amazing how the Lord prepares us in advance for the challenges we will face? My 2020 word for the year was Rest. As I look back on this crazy, chaotic year, I realize how appropriate this simple one-word resolution was for me. God has taught me how to rest in so many ways this year. Lessons I’ve learned that have enriched my life and strengthened my relationship with Him.
I want to share with you what I discovered about that this year.
But first, I should tell you why I chose a one-word resolution and how it turned out to be Rest. At the beginning of the year, I decided to ditch my New Year’s resolutions and instead choose one word that I would focus on for the entire year. To find that word, I took the Dayspring Word of the Year Quiz. I also prayed before taking the quiz and asked God to show me what He wanted me to focus on this year.
Rest was not the word I expected. Honestly, I can’t think of a more boring word to receive. I was hoping for something a little more exciting. But, there it was, what I was to focus on, so I began to research the meanings of rest and what the Bible had to say about it.
And what I discovered was anything but boring!
Check out these synonyms for rest – Calmness, Tranquility, Repose, Refreshment, Restoration, Sereneness, Peace, Stillness, Quietness, Comfort, Relaxation, and Chillout.
But even more interesting were the truths I found when I searched the Bible for answers on how God wants me to rest.
Seven Wonderful Ways God teaches us How to Rest
1. Observing a day of rest each week
One of the first lessons God teaches us in the Bible is that we are to rest. Genesis 1:1&2 says after six days of creating the heavens and the earth, God rested on the seventh day. I’ve read that passage many times, but never thought of the reason why the Lord rested or what I could learn from His example.
Why should we take a day of rest each week?
"31) Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus, the heavens and the earth, all the host of them, were finished. 2) And on the seventh day God ended his work which He had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3) Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work with which God had created and made." Genesis 1:31-2:3 NKJV
God looked at everything he created and saw it was excellent. So, what did He do next? God rested. He took the day off! I think this is an important lesson for each of us. Do you ever stop at the end of the week to enjoy and reflect on what you’ve accomplished? Or, do you immediately begin another project, and another after that?
So, why did God rest in the first place? It wasn’t because He was tired. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 40:28 that “The everlasting God, the LORD, The creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary.” Instead, I think it was to teach us that we need to rest physically, mentally, and spiritually. He knew we needed a day to cease our labors, turn our thoughts towards Him, and celebrate all His goodness and greatness.
And to make sure we knew how important this day was, He even blessed it and sanctified it.
I could write this entire post just about resting on the Sabbath but there are six more ways to cover. If you’d like to read more on why you should take a day of rest, I encourage you to read Betsy de Cruz’s post, “What is the Sabbath, and is It Still Important Today?
I know it can be difficult to take an entire day of rest. At the end of the week, there always seems to be so much left to do. It’s tempting to keep working. But, when I take a day off, I feel refreshed, relaxed, and ready to face the new week’s challenges.
2. Allowing Christ to lead our lives gives us rest
The second kind of rest I experienced is the one we receive when we allow Christ to lead our lives.
"Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
Bonnie Gray does a good job describing this in her article, “How Embracing Rest Can Change Your Life” for Relevant Magazine. “He (God) is calling us to say no to the roles and responsibilities others try to place on us – and yes to who God created you to be – and return to a place of rest.” She goes on to say, “What different choices would you make if you gave yourself permission to let go of the expectations other people push you to be or do?”
And what about the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves? Isn’t it about time we let go of these and instead follow the Lord’s direction in our lives? Imagine the peace and joy we can experience by allowing Him to lead us!
3. Resting and waiting for God’s Timing
Even when we follow God’s lead, we sometimes jump ahead of Him because we think we should be doing something to get the job done. And jumping ahead of God almost always leads to stress, frustration, and a waste of time and energy. Instead, we need to learn to be quiet and wait for His lead. We need to be still long enough for the Lord to speak, for us to hear his answer, and only after that should we move in any direction.
"But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 NKJV Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21 NKJV
4. Rest so we can hear him speak
Not only do we need to wait on the Lord, we need to devote quiet, restful time with God for Him to talk to us. It’s only when we stop and spend time in quiet contemplation and prayer that our soul receives true peace and rest. We need to make time for Him every day. We should seek Him in the morning, throughout the day, and at the end of our day. If we want to grow as Christians, we must spend a great deal of quiet time with our Lord.
So be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me there on the mountain. Exodus 34:2 NKJV
5. Be Still, At Peace, And Trust God
Peace comes from trusting and resting in the arms of Jesus. It is staying calm amid the turmoil and knowing that He will take care of us.
The Scottish Reverend and Professor Henry Drummond describes it like this: “Rest is not some holy feeling that comes upon us in church. It is a state of calm rising from a heart deeply and firmly established in God.”
It’s choosing to embrace faith over fear and trusting that no matter what happens, the Lord is with us and He will guide us through any circumstance. The more we do this, the more our lives will be at peace and the stronger in Christ we will become.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10 NKJV
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3
6. Don’t stress! Rest!
When we find ourselves stressing, fretting, or restless during the day, its time to take a rest. That’s when we need to find a quiet place to be alone. Closing your eyes for a few minutes, taking deep breaths, saying a prayer, listening to music, or just taking a walk in the sunshine. Anything that will help to calm you and renew your energy is a welcome practice.
And He said to them, "Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. Mark 6:31-31 NKJV
7. learning to rest is good for your health
Focusing on learning to rest this year has made me healthier, happier, and more at peace within my soul. I never realized how much stress I carried in my every day life. Nor did I realize the pressure I put on myself by taking on burdens that weren’t mine to carry.
For thus says the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: "In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15 NKJV
And in these crazy times we live in, it’s vital for us to learn and apply all the different ways God shows us to rest.
I hope my thoughts on these seven wonderful ways God has taught me to rest this year has inspired you to embrace rest. If it has, please share this post with your friends. And, let me know what you think in the comments below.
NKJV – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.